This chapter focuses on three definably different periods in education policy making in England since Butler's 1944 Education Act. It argues that the first could be dubbed an age of 'optimism and trust'; the second, one of 'doubt, disillusion and uncertainty' and the third, one of 'markets and managerialism', which is even now giving way to another period of transition. The first period, which caught the post-war spirit of optimism, lasted until the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was an age of 'optimism and trust', characterised by partners in education knowing their respective roles and exercising them energetically, as all were agreed that education was a public good and people needed more of it. The chapter discusses about a no-holds-barred attack on markets and managerialism as the Caroline Benn, Brian Simon memorial lecture, 'Dreams and Nightmares', speculating about two possible scenarios of ever-widening hierarchies of schools in urban areas.