When the first edition of my book appeared in 1993, quality was a new subject. My prefaces to the first and second editions of this book were aimed at persuading sceptical educationalists to embrace total quality management. I wanted to extol the virtues of TQM and to introduce the world of education to the then somewhat alien concept of quality assurance.
In the new millennium there is less need to make this call to arms. Quality is nowadays, quite rightly, a high priority and has become almost the very stuff of the education debate. But while the novelty may have worn off, the need to understand how to assure quality in education remains. It is an interesting question whether quality in education is really understood.
So while many of us may feel that we are now all part of the quality movement, there is still a huge gap between the rhetoric and real understanding. The philosophies of the pioneers of the quality movement, Deming, Juran and Crosby, have not been translated very accurately into the practice of education. Do we really believe that quality is about improving students' learning, empowering teachers, supporting teamwork, providing leadership or that in pursuit of quality we are driving out fear fear in our institutions?
Too often today quality has become synonymous with the latest government stricture on standards, examination success, school performance, league tables or part of the latest party political pronouncements on education before an election. I do not say this with any sense of cynicism. Rather I sense it is the way of the world. Once the message of quality had become popularized, there was always a danger of it becoming vulgarized.
One wonders what W Edward Deming, the famous exponent of TQM who introduced the quality message to the Japanese after World War II,