This article analyses the learning opportunities afforded pre-service teachers when participating in a primary school placement in London, England as part of their university teacher education course. Cultural historical activity theory is used as a theoretical framework to address how pre-service teacher learning opportunities are constructed. Building on a previous year-long ethnographic study which explored how and why pre-service teacher learning opportunities differed in school settings, this paper introduces a small scale pilot study. The study integrates developmental work research into an initial teacher education school/university partnership, and considers the role of the school leader in this. Possibilities for pre-service teachers, teachers and teacher educators to work together in a research process that is integral to an initial teacher education partnership are forwarded, with the aim of ensuring that critical enquiry and learning are kept at the forefront of the activity.