Strong moral and political purposes have underpinned the development of the post-war government of education. These purposes have centred upon the importance of education in providing the conditions for citizenship in a democratic society. What has changed is the conception of those conditions. For much of the period following the 1944 Education Act the emphasis was upon professional planning to develop the individual powers and capacities of all young people. From the mid-1970s this professional domination was challenged: education had to become more accountable to the society which resourced it, and the learning process more responsive to the needs of employers and wealth production. The 1980s has seen a more radical attack upon 'the producers' of education. Because, it is claimed, professional control has created dependent, rather than active and autonomous, citizens, the organization of the government of education has undermined, rather than supported, its expressed purpose. The solution is to contract the bureaucracy and to extend public choice and accountability to users and consumers of the service.