To read this content please select one of the options below:

“A long way to go before we win the battle” : The propaganda war over the Picot report and Tomorrow's Schools

Roger Openshaw (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

History of Education Review

ISSN: 0819-8691

Article publication date: 24 June 2011




During the late 1980s New Zealand, in common with a number of other nations, underwent a controversial restructuring of its public sector, including education. The radical nature of education reform was to be epitomised in the documents Administering for Excellence (the Picot report), and the Labour Government's official response, Tomorrow's Schools. The publication of these documents, however, tended to polarize New Zealand's education sector and the public at large into opposite and opposing camps. This paper aims to address these issues.


In producing a step‐by‐step analysis of the techniques of persuasion employed during a crucial period of New Zealand's educational history, it will be shown how many of the arguments presented during this time have continued to shape the way we view the educational reforms and their impact more than 20 years later.


It will be demonstrated that the nature and style of propaganda on both sides was highly sophisticated, expressly aimed at building a constituency that was either supportive or hostile to reform.


This paper is perhaps the first to critically examine the nature and role of propaganda in both promoting the educational reforms and in galvanizing resistance to them. In utilising the very considerable amount of hitherto un‐cited documentary material now available, this paper makes a major contribution to education policy research.



Openshaw, R. (2011), "“A long way to go before we win the battle” : The propaganda war over the Picot report and Tomorrow's Schools", History of Education Review, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 62-80.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles