The Picot report, Administering For Excellence: Effective Administration In Education, was published a quarter of a century after the Currie report on education of 1962. During that time, the national consensus on education that Currie celebrated has visibly evaporated. Growing social, political and economic difficulties, together with accumulating evidence of persistent inequalities in education, have led to potent radical and marxist critiques of the system, and more recently an incipient ‘New Right’ has also begun to emerge. The Picot report of May 1988 may be interpreted as a high-level initiative to acknowledge and respond to these differing criticisms of the education system. It has thus abandoned the liberal-progressive assumptions associated with Currie. But the report also represents an important attempt to restore public confidence in the ability of the state education system to create social equality. In this latter sense it is squarely in the dominant tradition of educational policy in twentieth century New Zealand. The present article will seek to locate the Picot report in its historical and political contexts, and to indicate Picot’s likely implications for the future.