'As Deming reminds us, perfection is never a prequisite for improvement interventions, but a willingness to work systematically to reduce errors is.'
Martin Barlosky and Steve Lawton, Developing Quality Schools
Institutional self-assessment is of growing importance in education. It is a major element of quality improvement and marks a step away from inspection towards the institution taking responsibility for its own quality that is a key mark of organizational maturity. It is an essential element of the culture of continuous improvement. It is the process by which educational institutions make considered judgements on their own performance and use these as the data for future enhancement of their service. An institution that takes self-assessment seriously is likely to be one that prospers. Self-assessment is a key to better meeting the needs of learners.
The use of self-assessment or quality audit is an excellent first diagnostic step on the path to total quality. Having a self-assessment checklist is a standard against which the institution can measure itself. It provides a framework for building up an understanding of quality. It allows the organization to discern its strengths and weaknesses and from such an analysis to decide how best to make improvements. As such, self-assessment is a catalyst for making educational improvement and driving up standards. From this an organization can build an action plan for its future development.
Such checklists can also usefully be employed at intervals to measure progress and to evaluate success and failure. There is a range of self-assessment frameworks available. The European Foundation for Quality