Variety, Commonality and Change
Edited by Christopher Hood, Oliver James, B. Guy Peters and Colin Scott
Chapter 1: Controlling public services and government: towards a cross-national perspective
Christopher Hood 1 INTRODUCTION: FROM FOLK TALES TO STRUCTURED COMPARISONS Schoolteachers in England swapping stories about the ‘reign of terror’ inspection system that was introduced in that country in the early 1990s often come up with an apocryphal tale that begins with a school gearing up for its fouryearly inspection, and going through the usual processes of frantic redecoration, clean-ups and strategy committees working late into the night drafting documents in what is hoped to be the latest and most acceptable educational jargon. Then (the tale runs) it turns out that the teachers and students will have to deal with more than one set of inspectors, because the conduct of the inspection is itself to be inspected by a higher-level set of central inspectors. And shortly afterwards the school’s harassed pupils, teachers and support staff learn they are to face scrutiny from yet another source. A team of academics based at a neighbouring university has been commissioned by the central ministry of education to question students, teachers and school administrators as part of a study designed to explore behaviour during school inspections when the inspectors are themselves being inspected. At the same time, it turns out that an international educational non-governmental organization (NGO) has asked to send two observers to monitor the process and ask some questions as part of an international appraisal of different national systems for quality control in education. As the inspectors and the various meta-inspectors arrive, a television crew also descends on the long-suffering school to...
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