In conducting inspections, each diocese is exercising a pastoral function on behalf of their Bishop. Inspection is one of the ways a Bishop acts as a shepherd of his schools, protecting, supporting and encouraging them. For this reason, dioceses also have a canonical and legal responsibility to ensure that the inspection of their schools witnesses to Catholic values and are compatible with both the teachings of the Church and the law of the land. Dioceses will exercise this responsibility by appointing accredited inspectors who are able to carry out this pastoral and legal function effectively.
In November 2019, the Bishops’ Conference unanimously agreed to a National Framework for the Inspection of Catholic Schools, Colleges and Academies. This provided, inter alia, for all inspectors to be accredited, on behalf of every diocesan bishop, in accordance with a nationally agreed protocol approved by the Department of Education and Formation, to inspect in any diocese.
When an inspector carries out an inspection, they are acting on behalf of the Bishop in whose diocese the school is situated. For this reason, they must be able to act with integrity as his representative and must therefore be practising Catholics in full communion with the Catholic Church