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Conservative Party Education Policies, 1976–1997

The Influence of Politics and Personality

Author Text to Follow

This book examines education policy making with close reference to interview evidence of protagonists and observers of the period, who include senior officials, ministers and ministerial special advisers. It introduces an original typology of regulars, irregulars and politicos, to classify those involved and examines the personal and political context in which they operated, how these contexts impacted on their decisions, and the subsequent course of education policies.

The theme of the book is that people matter. Introducing ‘personality’ into our understanding and interpretation of the development of education policy, constitutes a significant original contribution. Too often individual policy-makers have been portrayed as ‘caricature creatures of a “role”, or an “interest”. The actions, or inter-actions, of individuals are viewed and analysed through the prism of policies or assumed ideological positions. The book explores the reverse relationship, where the course of policies is not studied through ‘abstract generalities’ but through the concrete experiences of individuals, the personal and political contingencies they faced. It was not that politics and personality were all that mattered between 1976 and 1997. Rather, the problem was that they mattered too much.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-120-7
Hardback Price: £19.95 / $45.00
Release Date: October 2005
Page Extent / Format: 272 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


Dramatis personae
List of abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 No longer ‘positive, helpful, worthy and dull’: 1976 –1979

3 At the margins: May 1979– September 1981

4 Different drummers: September 1981–May 1986

5 Dash for glory: May 1986– July 1987

6 Unforeseen ways: July 1987– July 1989

7 ‘ The worst job in government’: July 1989–November 1990

8 The ‘uncomplicated bloke’: November 1990–April 1992

9 Crisis, disorder, confusion and mismanagement’: May 1992– July 1994

10 Leaden Evening: July 1994–April 1997

11 Conclusion


Very well informed, attractively written and an original contribution to our understanding of this period.
Professor Gary McCulloch, Dean of Research and Consultancy and Brian Simon Professor of the History of Education at the Institute of Education

The writing is a delight, the insights into human nature and their effects on the policy process are quite delicious.
Professor Richard Aldrich, Emeritus Professor of History of Education at the Institute of Education

Daniel Callaghan has had great fun in the writing of this book and the result is something of a tour de force. … Callaghan persuaded most of the leading figures in Conservative education politics of the period to speak with him candidly. The fruits of these interviews have been interwoven with great skill among a wide range of other first hand accounts to form a sustained, blow-by-blow account of the making of ‘high policy’ over the period in England and Wales, with mesmerizing results. Indeed, the effect is of a bizarre cavalcade of figures processing across the political stage, a kind of crazed procession of political carnival floats passing before the spectator’s eye. And to think: these people governed the country!
London Review of Education

“Daniel Callaghan has written a shrewd, interesting and readable book on a topic of lasting importance…. Callaghan has spoken with ministers, their advisors, Conservative activists and civil servants – supported by wide and intelligent reading of secondary sources.” British Journal of Educational Studies

Callaghan’s copious research and attention to accuracy and details … serve to counterpoint the exact opposite characteristics of those about whom he is writing. … He develops dense character studies and a thorough and balanced analysis of the times. There are many lessons embedded in the book. One, augmented by scandals …is that we should keep hammering out our expectations for others and ourselves about ethical leadership … The book also offers support for knowledgeable management of leadership succession.
Canadian Journal of Education

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