Initial teacher training for post-compulsory education in England is currently undergoing profound change in terms of central direction of curricula and the provision of financial support for trainees. Within a discourse of the 'professionalisation' of teaching in the sector, unprecedented control of the detailed structure and content of training courses has been established and is increasing in extent. At the same time, principles of free access to Cert. Ed. and PGCE courses are being set aside, so that those universities which provide training are simultaneously contending with imposed curriculum change and with a serious threat to student recruitment. This article examines the origins and nature of these developments, considers the political and economic background from which they stem, and discusses in detail some features of the characteristic discourse of the reforms instituted by central government. It goes on to consider the likely effects of the recent and on-going changes in university-led training and suggests that the outcome of the reforms might be to undermine the government's own aspirations for professionalisation of the teaching workforce in post-compulsory education.