Setting expectations for good education: How Dutch school inspections drive improvement

Melanie Ehren*, Jane Perryman, Nichola Shackleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


With decentralisation becoming increasingly widespread across Europe, evaluation and accountability are becoming key issues in ensuring quality provision for all (Altrichter & Maag Merki, 2010; Eurydice, 2004). In Europe, the dominant arrangement for educational accountability is school inspections. The purpose of this research is to identify and analyse the ways in which school inspections in The Netherlands impact on the work of schools. The results of 2 years of survey data of principals and teachers in primary and secondary schools show that inspection primarily drives change indirectly, through encouraging certain developmental processes, rather than through more direct and coercive methods, such as schools reacting to inspection feedback. Specifically, results indicate that school inspections which set clear expectations on what constitutes “good education” for schools and their stakeholders are strong determinants of improvement actions; principals and schools feel pressure to respond to these prompts and improve their education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-327
Number of pages32
JournalSchool effectiveness and school improvement
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


  • Accountability
  • School improvement
  • School inspections
  • 2023 OA procedure


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