Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested.
(Winston Churchill, My Early Life)
The previous chapter discussed the design of policies aimed at motivating professionals to produce quality services that balanced user and professional power with respect to decision-making in the context of health care. This chapter undertakes a similar task with respect to school education. It will be seen that, although there are fundamental similarities between the two cases, some of the more detailed proposals are rather different. Again, the chapter concentrates on the British case; again, though, the ideas and policies discussed are capable of more general application.
As outlined in Chapter One , state school education in England and Wales, like health care, underwent an organisational transformation in the late 1980s. Prior to that, the school education system in England and Wales relied upon a combination of command and control and professional trust. The local government of the area where a school was located had control of all schools' budgets and admissions. Budgets were set essentially on a historical basis and admissions were determined according to the local government's own criteria (usually related to geographical proximity and capacity). Schools had little flexibility in the way they could spend their budget; they had little control over who attended their classes. On the other hand, they had considerable freedom over what and how they taught. Parental choice was heavily constrained, with little choice over where their children went to school and what their children were taught when they were there.
The motivational and agency structures were thus a combination of knight and pawn. Local government officials were assumed to be knights, making budgetary and admissions decisions in the public interest. School head teachers and their staff were supposed to be pawn-like in their acceptance of these decisions but knightly in the way that they devised and implemented their