In the closing years of the twentieth century, assessment of the quality of education in the UK is all-embracing, extending from pre-school nurseries to the university sector. Coupled with this drive to assess is the increasing growth of ‘consumerism’ in education, as in other areas of public policy such as health care and public transport. Parents want to know they are getting ‘value for money’ for their children and that they are guaranteed to experience a minimum standard of education, wherever they live and whichever kind of educational institution they attend.