This article examines the influence of the Standards for Subject Leaders that have been available for the professional development of middle managers in English schools since 1998. The Standards represent an unprecedented attempt by the government to centralise and standardise the career development of teachers at middle management level. The text of the Standards is explored in order to extract what it reveals about the theoretical and ideological influences on the view of the professional development of teachers held by the Government via the Teacher Training Agency (the TTA), and also to examine what the Standards can offer teachers and teacher educators. This article also attempts to offer the reader insights into one country's governmental response to the professional development of teachers so that opportunities for comparisons with other countries may be made as well as raising questions about the implementation of the Standards in schools, partnership programmes with Higher Education and individual teachers' professional development portfolios. Finally, a ‘real’ partnership model Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course, based explicitly on the Standards, is examined in the light of these explorations in order to judge how useful the Standards are to practitioners at all levels.