"Ideology without competence is a dangerous vice. But competence without ideology is a limited virtue." (D. Miliband, Minister of State for School Standards, DfES).<br/><br/>Opportunistic attempts have been made by successive governments to establish - some would say impose - sets of criteria against which the effectiveness of not-for-profit organisations like schools can be gauged. Most have been subjective: the extent of staff involvement in decision making, the appropriateness of the leadership shown by senior managers, the percentage of inspected classes regarded as ‘good’, and so on. Lately, UK government rhetoric, using a lexicon borrowed from Business and Economics, suggests a willingness to move to new systems of reportage; centred on improvement rather than blame, on critical friendship more than on confrontation. There appears no longer to be the puritanical tendency among policy-makers to adopt measures that cause pain in the belief that they alone can be right, but do they constitute (as critics like Thrupp suggest) a random collection of well-intentioned but poorly theorised policies, or can they be cogently conceptualised into a whole? <br/>Previously, improvement measures judged schooling simply, in terms of external stakeholder outcomes, but failed to capture the essence of what it was to be (or what it took to become) a successful improving school. This paper suggests that current government policy, whether knowingly or not, is essentially describing improvement from a different perspective - an internal perspective of ‘Intellectual Capital’. The paper knits together government policy statements on school improvement with a re-conceptualisation of Intellectual Capital specifically designed for schools, offering an imposed coherence to government policy that could potentially change the way we think about inspection
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