Making a Difference? The Voices of School Inspectors and Managers in Sweden

  • Agneta HultEmail author
  • Christina Segerholm
Part of the Accountability and Educational Improvement book series (ACED)


A cadre of school inspectors with different backgrounds visit thousands of schools annually in Sweden as is also the case in several other European and other nations. Do these inspectors believe that they ‘make a difference’? In this chapter we elaborate on inspection effects as they are perceived by Swedish inspectors and inspection managers at different levels of the Inspectorate, and on the policy problems the creation of the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (SI) was intended to solve according to, on the one hand policy documents and on the other hand problems reported in interviews with inspectors and inspection managers. Central to inspection practice are the ‘assumptive worlds’ of the inspectors and managers at the Inspectorate, i.e. their notions of school inspection. Both groups’ notions of the policy problem inspection is to solve, agree with national intentions and motivations the managers stressing the declining school performance, and the inspectors emphasising the lack of equivalence between schools and municipalities. Analysis of interviewees’ notions of what problems are indeed solved, points foremost to different types of implementation problems at all levels in a top-down ‘chain of governing’, also noting problems within the national level.


Assumptive worlds Inspection managers School inspectors Policy implementation 



The Swedish part of Governing by Inspection (no. 2009-5770) was financed by the Swedish Research Council and the UK part by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The authors also acknowledge the close links and collaborative work with the projects Swedish national school inspections: introducing centralised instruments for governing in a decentralised context (financed by the National Research Council, project no. 2007-3579, project leader Dr. Linda Rönnberg), and Inspecting theMarket’: education at the intersection of marketisation and central state control (financed by Umeå University, no. 223-514-09), project leader D. Linda Rönnberg.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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