Central governments and their service ministries of education hold the responsibility for underpinning the development of education with quantitative, independent advice on the state of the system. The twin responsibilities of quality control and quality improvement are undertaken by through supervision and inspection. These give rise to the need for supervision and an element of inspection in the schools.
This essay will define the terms supervision and inspection in the context of educational institutions, and then will proceed to describe the historical perspective of supervision. Although supervision is now the leading method through which efficiency in educational institutions is now approached, it is inspection that precede it in the early days of formal educational institutions, and the focus was on ensuring personnel towed the line and were compliant.
The different bases of authority and power will then be discussed, noting that these affect the relationship between a supervisor and supervisee. Those types of power and authority that are most desirable are those that rely less on coercion and more on respect and professional expertise.
The models of supervision are then discussed, noting some strengths and weaknesses of each. It is concluded that those models that uphold the supervisor as the supreme and only source of knowledge are now outdated, and are being replaced by more relevant and applicable ones that acknowledge and take note of the supervisee as a unique individual whose idiosyncrasies need to be taken into account by the supervisor. Inspection, as a form of data collection, can still be used in some models, but only in so far as it is a means to the end of supervising, and therefore improving the teaching-learning process.
Definition of Concepts
What is Supervision?
Oliva and Pawlas (2004) argue that it is extremely difficult to come up with a succinct definition of supervision. Mosher and Purpel (1972:3) in Oliva and Pawlas (2004) explain the cause of such difficulty as follows:
‘The difficulty of defining supervision in relation to education also stems, in a large part, from unsolved theoretical problems about teaching. … When we have achieved more understanding of what and how to teach, and with what special effects on students, we will be much less vague about the supervision of these processes.’
As a word, supervision is derived from the Latin word “super video” which means to oversee. Many occupations outside education use the services of supervisors as overseers. They demonstrate techniques, offer suggestions, give orders, evaluate employees’ performance and check on results, or products. (Sullivan and Glanz 2009) define school supervision as the process of bringing about improvement in instruction by working with people who are working with pupils. It has also been described as a process of stimulating growth and a means of helping teachers to achieve excellence in teaching. Supervision in school therefore is a vital process and combination of activities which is concerned with the teaching and improvement of the teaching in the school framework. The supervisor is not and should not be the overseer or prescriber but rather the guide, facilitator, or collaborator (Sullivan and Glanz 2009).
Ideally, the purpose of the supervision process is to provide a safe, supportive opportunity for individuals to engage in critical reflection in order to raise issues, explore problems, and discover new ways of handling both the situation and oneself. It has the potential to educate.
Inspection can be described as the process of information gathering as a basis of supervision. It could be described as the critical examination and evaluation of a school as a place of learning (Sullivan and Glanz 2009). Through inspection, necessary and relevant advice may be given for the...