Throughout the 1960s and 1970s efforts were made in the USA, UK and Australia to harnass national resurces to improve the quality of the school curriculum. The various activities were initially well received but by the early 1980s political and economic constraints led to a withdrawal of support for major initiatives. In Australia, this situation was reviewed by the newly elected Labor government in 1983. The result was the reactivation of the national Curriculum Development Centre with a brief to work collaboratively with local education authorities. There was a deliberate move away from a centralized research and development model to one that relied on the identification of exemplary local initiatives that had the potential to inform educational practice on a national scale. It is too early to provide any definitive evaluation of the success of this approach to national curriculum development. Yet there are indicators that it has been accepted by both policy makers and practitioners thus creating an important constituency of support for national curriculum efforts. Copyright © 1989 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.