Initial conclusions
  1. Although there is a general trend in many countries towards a greater emphasis on measuring the “outputs” of the process of education in schools, it has only reached a high level of intensity in the UK and to a lesser extent the Netherlands, where features of a “market” system are in operation.

  2. One of the reasons for the development of targets and performance indicators is to enable judgements to be made about the relative performance of schools, as measured by the results of the pupils. However, for this system of intense scrutiny and accountability to work effectively, it needs to be underpinned by a degree of regulation.

  3. As the quality ‘loop’ is also dependent on the inputs – such as the teachers, the curriculum and the school buildings/facilities – these too need to be subject to standards prescribed by law.

  4. The use of school inspection regimes of various degrees of intensity and diverse organisational patterns (local or national), combined with rules about the qualification of teachers, form part of national educational traditions. However, it was possible to identify two models that did have comparable elements, but also have quite distinctive characteristics:
    - The Continental model – relies very much on central inspection and control and operates principally by disciplinary and control measures and not by the establishment of school liability
    - The UK Model – is based on strong elements of central direction, but organises schools as a decentralised market with strong elements of school autonomy and school liability

  5. Under the UK model, the rules on inspection and teacher qualification have become intensified because these matters are seen as integral aspects of the new quality agenda for schools. At the same time, new risks of civil liability have emerged, related to issues of quality in education.

  6. States that decide to adopt the UK model as a means to driving up standards of education in their schools will need to expect that an increase in legal claims is a possibility.

  7. Concrete and clear provisions governing transferability of general educational qualifications at pre-university level remain conspicuously absent from the European social policy agenda.

  8. Whether it would be possible to prescribe or recommend on a Europe-wide level certain minimum institutional and regulatory requirements to ensure that all states take effective steps to improve, monitor and enforce standards of education in their schools is very difficult to assess.

  9. Although Article 126 of the EU Treaty makes provision for common European issues to be the subject of broad regulatory aims, it is very much dependent on “political will”. There is a potential conflict with the “principle of subsidiarity” and the risk that it might undermine national autonomy in terms of cultural and national identify.

  10. However, although there may be concern about loss of national identify related to a State’s curriculum, it is less clear that national identify would be undermined if there was European Union legislation on matters like school inspections or performance measures.

  11. Equally though, it is unclear how EU requirements on those matters would support the aims of free movement and the inculcation of a sense of common European identity, thereby making them incompatible with the subsidiarity principle.
 
In any event, it is difficult to determine whether such a pan-European initiative would be necessary given the strong political, social and economic imperatives to maintain an effective schools system, underpinned by national legislation and, in many cases, constitutional requirements. This is part of a broader issue relating to governance and policy making that will be considered later in the project.