The Department of Education and Skills operates a programme of inspection to evaluate the quality of education provision in schools and to contribute to school improvement. The whole-school evaluation (WSE) process is designed “to monitor and assess the quality, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the education system provided in the state by recognised schools and centres for education” (Education Act 1998, section 7 (2)(b)). This study set out to hear directly from principals, teachers, parents and students how they had experienced a whole-school evaluation and their perceptions of its usefulness for the school. The research approach adopted was qualitative, rooted in social constructivism. A basic tenet was that the same WSE experience could be understood from multiple perspectives, each equally valid and worth engaging with.
The data set emerged from the talk of the principals, teachers, students and parents who participated in seven focus group discussions. By examining ...