23 SES 09 C, Governing By Inspection I: A European Inspectorate?
Symposium, Part 1
This symposium reports on current funded research into Inspection regimes in three national education systems- Sweden, England and Scotland – which explores the role of inspectors in governing education. The research so far has investigated how inspectors in Europe share, communicate and build knowledge and influence across national boundaries and through the Standing International Conference on Inspection (SICI), with particular emphasis on how the three countries in the study interact with SICI and with each other. Our theoretical resources support analysis of the development of the ‘performance-evaluation nexus’ (Clarke 2009) at a moment of particular tension in the governing of education in Europe between performance monitoring through target-setting, indicators and benchmarks, and the turn to self-evaluation and ‘light touch’ regulation that expresses a ‘softer’ governance turn, and a concern to promote self-regulation as the best basis for constant improvement (Lawn 2006). Inspection offers a key location for the exploration of these governing tensions: and the three national systems offer a range of contrasting approaches to inspection, all of which are in a significant state of development and change. There is a continuum from the centralised and highly regulatory policy space of Ofsted in England, now increasingly focused on narrow versions of inspection, to Sweden, where inspection was reintroduced in 2003, and which seems to be caught between an advisory and a more regulatory role, to Scotland, which is currently developing models of self-evaluation and promoting them throughout Europe and beyond (Grek and Ozga 2012), while extending inspection to include mentoring, support and development across the curriculum. We draw on (a) a critical policy sociology approach (Ball 2006) to understanding governing through inspection in comparative contexts and (b) an interdisciplinary approach to governance understood as linked to the crisis in governability and the emergence of tensions within and between centralised and decentralised administrations, and de-regulation and the growth of regulatory instruments within and across nation states. Governance is also understood as linked to knowledge (Ozga, Grek and Lawn 2010), and the Inspectorate is understood as a governing resource in managing the tension between saturation of information and evidence-based policy-making and as combating the perverse effects of audit and performance management (Strathern 2000, Power 2003)
Methodologically, we focus our enquiry on the incidence and management of the ‘tension in governance’ between performance management and self-evaluation, or between hard and soft governance that is encapsulated in inspection, with particular attention to the ways in which these tensions play out in the relation between ‘judgement’ and ‘evidence’ in the inspection process. We make extensive use of policy text analysis, and we are carrying out extensive interviews with key system actors at all levels. The research is underpinned by an understanding of policy as discourse, where policy texts carry definitions of problems, reference particular forms of evidence, and produce ‘knowledge’ of particular kinds to guide the implementation of policy solutions (Fairclough 2003).
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.