For ten years the UK government sought to improve public services through a combination of increased investment and a 'tough' regime of top-down performance management. The programme was driven by national targets, regulation, standard setting, performance assessment and direct intervention where services were found to be failing. However, the government has had to admit the limitations of this approach. It has now signalled a major change of direction, introducing a new model of reform that seeks to balance top-down measures with pressures from below (greater user choice and voice) and horizontal pressures (market incentives and improving the capability and capacity of the workforce). Public Sector Reform offers a critical appraisal of this new model, which the authors argue is not well supported by research evidence. They suggest an alternative approach for education, based upon a set of principles for improving the quality of learning. They argue for a realistic programme which would balance reform and maintenance; moderate change and sustainability; central and local direction; teacher empowerment and professional accountability.
In all, teaching and learning must be at the heart of the system.