Education is one of the key objectives of, and means for, development. Its value is widely accepted though we rarely investigate the way different theories of development inform widely differing justifications and strategies for education. This article explores some of these issues and proposes five main paradigms regarding the education-development nexus. These we term neoliberalism, retroliberalism, neostructuralism, place-based and radical. Each is linked to particular concepts of development, each involves certain forms of education, and each is linked to particular policy discourses. Although these are largely abstract paradigms and in practice we see more hybridised forms co-existing, we consider implications of each paradigm for education with examples from Oceania.