Scrutiny of education in the UK is carried out by professional inspectorates, of which Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, is the best known. Separate, independent inspection agencies exist for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2007, the Adult Learning Inspectorate, work from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration, and the current work of Ofsted merged to form today’s Ofsted. This was in line with the Government’s Education and Inspections Act commitment to provide a ‘joined-up’ inspection regime for the entirety of children’s services, improving efficiency and effectiveness of the public services it inspects and regulates.
Less specialist, but still significant forms of scrutiny are provided by Local Education Authorities, Schools Forums, and school governing bodies, all of which combine decision-making executive functions with a monitoring and evaluation role. Schools Forums, in particular, reflect the principle of involving schools, parents and local communities more closely in the decisions that affect them.
The creation prior to 2010 of academies, and since 2010 of "free schools" poses new challenges and opportunities for governance in schools. We explore these issues in more depth in Policy Briefing 13, on accountability in education, published in October 2011.