Any examination of the state of education in the United Kingdom (UK) in the late 1990s must acknowledge the importance of the key themes which pervade the reforms of educational provision and organization taking place at every level of the system. The intentions of recent reforms include: • the improvement of quality across the education service in relation to the

needs of the economy, international comparisons of pupil performance and the need to tackle the consequences of under-performance and underachievement;

• the eradication of variations in performance which continue to exist between the best and worst performing schools, colleges and local education authorities with adverse consequences in terms of individual entitlement and the effect on society and the economy as a whole;

• the promotion of the capacity of the education system to manage change in a society in which technological progress and development in communications makes modernization of education essential;

• the identification of the most appropriate ways to combine the benefits of school autonomy, diversity of provision in a competitive environment and local responses to identified needs with a national framework of curriculum organization, regulation of standards and requirement for rigorous inspection and accountability.