In 1997, New Labour set about the task of reforming public services in the United Kingdom through the use of an ideology that became known as the ‘ Third Way ’ . This research examines the context from which this concept emerged, and explores its relationship with the tools of delivery, with particular reference to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The paper begins by reviewing the Third Way, before analysing the arguments for and against PFI. Using an example from the Northern Ireland education sector, the paper argues that the characteristics associated with the Third Way are mirrored in the operational tools of public service delivery, such as PFI. The paper concludes that, within the context of the case study reviewed, there is a ‘ consistent pragmatism ’ in play in relation to how these delivery initiatives are operated and how they relate to their conceptual underpinnings.