The article examines the constructions of learners and learning held by staff development officers working in further education colleges located in the English Midlands. In addition the article draws upon their understanding of the developmental needs of lecturers working in the sector. In the case of both learners and lecturers there is a tendency for staff development officers to individualise the process of learning. This rests alongside a predisposition to construct the learner as an object upon which interventions are made. The article argues this tendency is encouraged by the performative context in which colleges are placed. It is however suggested that alongside these processes lies the embryonic development of alternatives that prefigure progressive practice, characterised by dialogue and deliberation.