This paper attempts to provide an overview of the key assumptions underpinning the Whole SchoolEvaluation (WSE) inspection policy developed in Ireland since 2003. Beginning with a documentary analysis the paper argues that the capacity to generate useful self evaluative data in schools was seen as being at the heart of the model of school evaluation proposed by the Department of Education and Science. It further suggests that while the rhetoric of self evaluative capacity building has been key to the emerging system the lack of a meaningful structural response within schools means that this has remained aspirational. The latter part of the paper seeks to test this contention, examining the research base in the area of school evaluation and inspection in Ireland and conducting a number of targeted focus groups with school leaders. For the most part the initial contention is confirmed although there is a sense that there may be significant new pressures emerging in the near future that could cause the whole system to be revisited and perhaps be radically overhauled. An initial indicator of these potential changes can be seen in the emergence of a refined WSE Management, Leadership and Learning inspection policy which has yet to be widely implemented. © 2012 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.