School autonomy or the self-governing school was an idea of the 1980s which has the potential to influence the next few decades of British education. Since the Butler Act of 1944, it had been assumed that state education should be the responsibility of local government authorities-they were ‘the market stallholders’. As a result, large, and in some cases monolithic, bureaucracies grew up. Local education authorities wielded considerable power and influence

through the appointment and allocation of staff, the allocation of budgets, the influence and control of local inspectors and the patronage of education officers.