Inspection in education is an organised or formal exercise which involves the measurement, testing, and evaluation of certain characteristics of activities in the school system, assessment being one of those activities. Inspection results are usually compared to specified requirements and standards so as to determine whether an activity is in line with set targets.
Inspection has been regarded as the ancestor of quality assurance, and because of that, often unfortunately used as a means of quality assurance, yet in actual fact, it is an aspect of quality control. This is because quality assurance focuses on preventing quality failures and providing assurance that the required standard of a product will be achieved at a minimal cost, by entrenching quality into the production process. Thus quality assurance is aimed at eliminating the causes of imperfection and imperfection itself and not just their effects.
On the other hand, quality control is the fulfilment of quality requirements hence performed at the end of the production or service cycle, to check for conformity to standards. Because of this, inspection as a quality control feature, has been viewed as a task or assessment of fault-finding and fact-finding, and teachers tend to see it as an external imposition with inspectors given too much authority. However, inspection could be conducted to become part of quality assurance processes for operational improvement.
This is achieved by entrenching inspection into the system so that schools and teachers do reflective professional inspection to know themselves well and identify the best way forward for their learners. By bringing inspection to the point of operation helps to remove the feeling of being policed, and provides the teachers an increased involvement in the decision-making process, the responsibility for the quality of the process and more involvement in the improvement of students learning. Done this way inspection becomes more of a quality assurance aspect as it seeks to among others to remove to the greatest extent possible the need for inspection and therefore inspection itself.
This self-inspection is very important and effective as an iterative, spontaneous and continuous process, embedded in the culture of a school. Thus for effective improvement of the school’s assessment, the external system of inspection should exist to support and guide schools to conduct self-assessment, provide performance indicators or Self-Evaluation Frameworks to enhance the process of self-evaluation. Self-evaluation is forward looking. It is about change and improvement, whether gradual or transformational, and is based on professional reflection, challenge and support. Thus schools would therefore need training in self-evaluation methods.
The external system or inspectorate department cannot effectively conduct inspection of all schools. It does not have the capacity and the time. Furthermore, the outcomes do not reflect the reality on the ground. There is completely no correlation between what is seen during inspection day and any other normal day.
Once schools have been capacitated to conduct own self-inspection, there would be no need for regularly inspections, particularly to those that are doing well, unless they have made a special request. Otherwise, schools’ inspections would be on ‘’proportionate to need’’ and this helps the Inspectorate Department to focus its resources on those schools that are not doing well and where inspection can have the most impact. In this regard, inspection will be viewed as developmental with desirable mutual trust between the parties and honest self-evaluation.
Yes, It’s Possible!