Employability is an organising narrative within the global, neoliberal economic discourse, with relevance across different educational contexts. Most attention is paid to attaining the knowledge and skills relevant to gain employment and competitive advantage. This is particularly concerning in university programmes that develop professionals who work with children. Placements are a common approach to embedding employability within university curricula. This article explores student placements in primary school settings in the north of England. Analysis considers students’ engagement with their own learning and with the children who are essential to that learning, who may be marginalised as a feature of it.