The Department of Inspection and Quality Assurance (DIQA) was established in 2002. Since that time, the department has gone through a number of phases. It has moved from quality control and compliance to quality assurance and school improvement. Though mainly grounded in open inquiry, as are OFSTED Inspections, the system is unique and very pertinent to The City School Network. The framework of school inspection ascribes special significance to the rigour and quality of school self-review and subsequent school improvement planning. The Inspection Department aims to provide high level evaluation to ensure high quality education for all students in The City School.
Teams of inspectors visit the schools and conduct an in-depth study of the activities that take place in the schools before making their assessments. Schools are expected to measure up to what is considered to be good practice at The City School (as detailed in the Handbook of School Inspection and Quality Assurance). The main focus of inspection is on student engagement, progress and achievement; quality teaching and curriculum implementation; a safe and caring environment; support and governance provided by the Regional and the Head Offices, and the role of the Head as an instructional leader. The assessment of a school is based on a variety of telling evidences that are collected by observing the lessons, examining the school environment and available resources, talking to students and teachers and analysing the relevant documents.
Parents, being the third and complementary side of the triangle of learning, are also consulted and spoken with, to ascertain their expectations of the school. All information collected is recorded, analysed and compiled into a School Inspection Report. The first draft of the report is sent to the School Head who confirms that the facts mentioned in the report are correct. After confirmation of the report, copies are forwarded to the Regional Directors and senior management, who in turn are expected to initiate follow-up action for maintaining their areas of strength and overcoming any inadequacies mentioned in the reports.
The schools are aware of this procedure and have great faith in the inspection process to generate an unbiased and comprehensive report of the school activities. School inspection reports provide schools with an external perspective of how they are performing so that they can set requisite targets and strive to achieve them before the next inspection cycle begins, as they are aware of what the inspection teams will look for. The schools are also supported to strengthen their self-review practices which help them to identify areas where improvement is needed and plan accordingly. The Regional Office academic staff supports the School Heads.
All inspectors are senior academicians who are trained in the school inspection procedures and practices. Their professional development is given utmost importance and in-house training is organised during every academic session. The inspectors are also engaged in professional debate to enhance their analytical and evaluative skills.