The transitional chief executive of Education Scotland, the body formed in July by merging HMIE and Learning and Teaching Scotland, told the committee that its formation heralded the end of "one size fits all" inspections.
"Inspection has become more and more strongly focused on evaluating provision against the outcomes being achieved by learners, rather than seeking to standardise the process through which these outcomes are achieved," said Bill Maxwell.
"It has become increasingly responsive and flexible to considering a wider range of teaching and learning approaches through which good outcomes might be achieved," he added.
Rather than visit every school regularly, there would be more of an onus on self-evaluation. Inspectors would visit struggling schools, but also exceptional ones, to find out the reasons for their success and share them across the country.
Dr Maxwell had a vision of an education system that would "almost virally spread ideas about the most effective professional practice".