Bruce Robertson, Highland's director of education, has been involved in a national group which has been drawing up guidelines for the inspections and, having been two years in the Inverness post, he requested an early inspection.
Mr Robertson welcomed the decision nd said: "It is always useful to have an external view of your work." The timing was helpful since the results would influence the council's service plan for 2001.
The five-strong inspection team will be led by Ian Ronald from HMI's quality, standards and audit division. It will include an officer from Audit Scotland, the value-for-money watchdog, and an assessor who will be a senior education official from another authority.
They will test the effectiveness of Highland's educational operations by interviewing councillors, officials and consumers as well as visiting schools.