Satisfactory Progress? Keywords in English School Inspection

Clarke, John and Baxter, Jacqueline (2014). Satisfactory Progress? Keywords in English School Inspection. Education Inquiry, 5(4) pp. 481–496.



In this paper, we explore some of the keywords around which the practice of school
inspection is ordered in England. As part of a project that explores the role of inspection in governing schooling in England, Scotland and Sweden, we have examined some of the key sources through which Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) publicly announces its role and purpose. In considering these texts we have turned to Raymond Williams’ conception of ‘keywords’ (1988) to frame our analysis. We suggest that these sources are marked by the presence of a series of such keywords that underpin and legitimize the practice of school inspection by Ofsted. We conclude by considering some of the changing terminology that followed from the Coalition Government that took office in the UK in 2010 and which made education reform a centre piece of its first period in power.

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