Research Digest: News from the Old Country

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 3:55pm.
Fred Rossoff's picture

Jerald, Craig. (2012, 1). On Her Majesty’s School Inspection Service. Education Sector Reports. Retrieved from
here.

I am always meaning to research how other countries have structured their educational systems. Nations are, after all, a little bit like social science laboratories, and the experiments they undertake can provide a lot of useful information when determining future educational policy. That’s why I pounced on this research article from Education Sector, which highlights a little known British custom.

Description: The article reports on Britain’s system of school inspections, which offer routine and detailed analyses and assessments of what schools are doing right and wrong, information that parents can use when choosing where to send their kids, and schools can use when attempting to develop workable reforms.

Craig Jerald, the author of the report, highlights how the inspection rubric contains multiple dimensions of performance, so that other important aspects of teaching aren’t drowned out by a narrow focus on test performance. There seems to be a great deal of discretion (perhaps too much) on how much weight each factor will be given, but the goal seems laudable.

Inspections are traditionally announced two days in advance, which may, to some extent, defeat the purpose, and the general system, which involves multiple steps and plenty of room for feedback and adjustment, which will strike you as sensibly flexible or just more bureaucratic inertia, depending on your opinion of British schools in general. I particularly like the focus on providing parents reliable information on the quality of schools.

I am sorry the report limited itself to description, as opposed to evaluation, but in any event it offers up a lot of information for future investigation.

EdLab Relevance: Although we tend, for some reason, to hear a lot of about Finland’s educational sector, mostly our education conversation seems restricted to the American experience. I am myself something of a chauvinist, but foreign countries could at least provide object lessons in what not do to.