This paper examines a programme which aimed at creating alternative school‐based experiences for postgraduate students following a 1‐year higher diploma of education course at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. The programme was premised on the belief that critical reflection is necessary for educational transformation, and that teacher educators increasingly will be expected to raise the quality of teaching in schools. The background to the Mentor Programme is described and the underlying rationale is discussed. Whilst the evidence from the study reflects mentor satisfaction at the quality and range of teaching skills developed by students during the programme, the investigators express disappointment at their lack of success in attaining critical reflection by their students. Students generally did not look critically, as they had been encouraged to do, at the institutional or societal context of their teaching. The discussion identifies three possible reasons for this, but concludes that any approach to teacher education which does not encourage teachers to reflect critically on their own educational views and on the nature of education as it is realised in the institutional setting of schools will be inherently flawed.