Further education has become pivotal to English educational policy with the sector being central to strategies that seek to raise educational standards and widen participation. This article derives from a study of trainee further education (FE) teachers on a full-time, postgraduate certificate course in the Midlands. It seeks to examine trainee experiences of their placement college and of the pedagogic relations in which they are placed. In particular, the article analyses trainees' initial orientation towards learning and teaching in the sector, and sets this against college experiences. Heuristically, trainees' understandings of care are located within and mediated by the pedagogic context in which they labour. Conceptualisations of emotional labour, performativity, and the relations between learner and teacher are central to understanding these orientations to care.