Conflict was perhaps inevitable between an occupational group committed to respect for individual and group difference, social justice and anti-discriminatory policies and practice, and a government intent on re-establishing more traditional, individualistic and market principles in public life. Social work educators have strong roots in the professional field and many retain a close association with it, arguably to the detriment of developing the discipline and their own academic identities. Lack of consistency in the departmental location of social work education mirrors a long-standing struggle about the siting of social work as a professional activity in the UK. Social work’s 19th century origins as an ancillary activity in institutions concerned with punishment, rehabilitation, health care and schooling are still evident in the marginal position of probation officers, hospital social workers and education social workers. Many factors impact on the development of good working relationships between allied professionals, not all of them amenable to change by social workers.