This chapter aims to identify the many and diverse strands which have shaped primary education in the United Kingdom, in a way which encourages readers familiar with the education systems of other countries to see similarities and comparisons. It can be argued that the British system is a poor candidate for the central role in this discussion. Whilst all national education systems have distinctive features which are particularly related to their historical and cultural origins, the British experience contrasts more sharply with international patterns than most. Significant trends and influences which can be identified in many other nations are notable by their absence or neglect in the UK. Whereas other countries, sometimes during periods of great stress, have confronted the big issueslike what education is for and how much national effort should be invested in it-the UK has favoured an evolutionary, piecemeal approach which has been characteristic of its endeavours in other fields too.