I have suggested elsewhere (Adler, 1990: 70) that the changes brought about by the parental choice provisions in the 1980 Education Act and the 1981 Education (Scotland) Act (which were inserted into the 1980 Education (Scotland) Act) can be interpreted in a number of ways:

As a shift away from an authority-wide approach to school admissions (which enables education authorities to prevent overcrowding and under-enrolment, deploy resources in an efficient manner and pursue their own conception of social justice) towards a parent-centred approach (in which parents decide what is best for their children and parents’ concerns have priority over those of the education authorities).

More generally, as a shift away from a collective-welfare orientation (which focuses on the achievement of collective ends, is primarily concerned with the overall pattern of decisionmaking, develops rules and procedures to achieve the programme’s ends, and recognises the necessity for trade-offs between the various ends the policy is trying to achieve) towards an individual-client orientation (which focuses on each individual case, respects individual autonomy and assumes that individuals are capable of deciding and acting for themselves, allows individuals to challenge unfavourable decisions and precludes the possibility of trade-offs).

As the first step of a two-part deregulation of the educational system in which market-like relationships between schools and parents replace bureaucratic and political forms of accountability. In this two-stage process, the first stage comprised the introduction of parental choice while the second stage involved 48the delegation of powers and responsibilities from education authorities to individual schools and a greater involvement of parents in their management.