In 1995, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) had the first opportunity to look at a substantial number of inspection reports from across the education system. Using this analysis, the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and Lambeth were identified as having over 40% of their schools within the category of 'serious weaknesses' or 'failing'. In direct response to these findings OFSTED announced an accelerated inspection programme for all schools within each borough. This article discusses the main conclusions from an external evaluation of the Accelerated Inspection Programme (AIP) in Waltham Forest. It focuses upon the critical relationships between OFSTED, the local education authority (LEA) and schools during the period of the AIP and considers the relationship between inspection and improvement based upon the evaluation findings. The article concludes by discussing some of the necessary preconditions for strengthening the link between inspection and improvement.