Knowledge, authority and judgement: the changing practices of school inspection in England

Baxter, Jacqueline and Clarke, John (2014). Knowledge, authority and judgement: the changing practices of school inspection in England. Sisyphus Journal of Education, 2(1) pp. 106–127.

URL: http://revistas.rcaap.pt/sisyphus/issue/view/300

Abstract

School Inspection involves the construction and mobilisation of particular conceptions of knowledge, judgement and expertise. These constructions change over time and between different inspection regimes. In this paper we explore some of the shifting criteria and practices of inspection that have been visible in the recent development of school inspection in England as organised through the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). At stake in these processes are the shifting relationships between different types of knowledge (not least data and observation); the types of expertise and authority understood to be embodied in the inspector; and the forms of judgement that are exercised in inspection. In the work of Ofsted, these changing constructions and mobilisations of knowledge are also linked to the changing practices and criteria used in the evaluation of school performance: most dramatically the reclassification of the evaluation grade of ‘satisfactory’ to ‘requires improvement’. The paper explores the political and governmental pressures that drive changes in the construction and mobilisation of knowledge in school inspection and consider what new problems may arise as a consequence of such changes.

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