Most education systems have some form of inspection services to check what is going on in schools. However, it is rare to find a purposeful and systematic inspection regime with the capacity to drive up teaching and learning standards. More often, inspections are limited in scope, infrequent and focused more on administrative matters than the quality of interactions in the classroom. This is an inefficient use of resources and an ineffective means of improving the quality of education.
Quality assurance is key to ensuring education systems function well. In addition to managing and conducting inspections in the UK and the USA, we have been instrumental in reforming inspection services under major programmes in Nigeria, Tanzania and China. A key focus of our work has been to clearly establish desired standards and monitor actual practice against those standards. In practical terms this has involved supporting the restructure of inspection services, refocusing them on learning outcomes and building the capacity of inspectors.