Development Education (DE) finds a significant part of its public face in England through the activities of local NGOs/Development Education Centres (DECs). DECs have emerged over a period of about 30 years as civil society institutions with little central government support. The creation of a Department for International Development (DFID) in 1997 encouraged fresh engagement with central government. The paper shows how inter-organisational relations deteriorated after 2000 producing disillusion. The paper then reflects on structural reasons for this process and finds clues in how the concept of citizenship has historically emerged. The paper concludes that changing the public face of development education depends on changes in governance in the UK.