Introduction: some issues of inspection
The inspection of schools and other agencies seems like a fairly recent phenomenon, but the issues that it addresses are ancient. They are matters of power and control, of personal and public accountability. They invoke complex questions about the nature of evidence, and the effects of change. There have always been questions about judgements, the significance of ancedote and personal opinion, and the effects of these on other people. Judgements are always made, privately if not always publicly. What is relatively recent is not only the ever-growing manifestation of inspection, as demonstrated in so many more public 'watchdogs', nor the rise of state education and other systems, but the separation of the public from the private (Elias, 1 978) . The concept of 'accountability' raises all kinds of questions.