National and local policy is an area in which red herrings ride hobbyhorses up blind alleys in abundance. In exposing myths, we can easily build up equally fallacious opposite propositions. Strong ministries do not necessar ily make for good education, but neither do weak ones. Undoubtedly, the national authority has a right to create frameworks within which public ser vices work. My point is that there has to be a carefully worked out balance and interaction between national policies and the factors that actually bring about quality in education. These are not statements from ministers or their courtiers. They include the knowledge, values and immediate work ing contexts within which teachers and other practitioners work. A system that sucks power to the centre but fails to clarify the mandate within which teachers work, will fail. I hope this chapter will stimulate thinking about that mandate.