Prepared for a Strategic Education Governance learning seminar, this working paper analyses the ways in which the Dutch government tried to reach overarching goals in education, in a system characterised by a high degree of distributed autonomy of education institutions and the participation of multiple actors, and consequently a government highly dependent on the collaboration with stakeholders. The paper introduces four perspectives on governance: ‘traditional public administration’, ‘new public management’, ‘network governance’ and ‘societal resilience’. In practice, these perspectives do not exclude each other. Based on three cases the paper shows that the Dutch government used simultaneously different perspectives in each case and across the cases, in various combinations. Each combination proved to have its pros and cons. The paper argues for a deliberate consideration and choice of governance perspectives as an important element of policy preparation.