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 former work of Ofsted merged to form the Ofsted we see today. This was in line with the Government’s Education and Inspections Act (2006) 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 have a consultative, 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. While Local Education Authorities have gradually been exerting less direct control over schools, ever since the 1980s when local management schools came in, they retain overarching responsibility for raising standards of attainment and many exercise an active scrutiny role in challenging - and supporting - schools to improve.
The creation prior to 2010 of academies, and since 2010 of "free schools" poses new challenges and opportunities for governance and accountability of schools.
In July 2013 The Department for Education issued a consultation document proposing to grant schools even more autonomy over their budget and teaching methods, whilst making them subject to extended public scrutiny. Parents and the public should be involved in the scrutiny process, by having access to more data on the school performance. The Department for Education also proposes the revision of the floor standards in order to improve school performance measurement. The new measures ought to be implemented after 2015.