This paper draws on the Learning to Teach Study (LETS), the first of its kind on the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Ireland, funded by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), which developed and implemented a study of initial teacher education in the PGDE in post-primary education. Adopting an interpretive approach, LETS involved the collaborative development of three interviews protocols and a survey by the research team. Seventeen (n=17) students were interviewed three times over the course of PGDE programme, and one hundred and thirty three students completed a detailed survey on their learning to teach experience (n=133, i.e. response rate of 63% of the 212 students in the PGDE 2008/09 cohort, of whom thirty were learning to teach mathematics. We highlight two key findings in this paper: (i) the low to moderate levels of support for student teachers on teaching practice allied with (ii) the challenges experienced by student teachers in enacting the meaning of the `real world¿ a theme central to current reform-oriented mathematics in Irish post-primary schools. We locate these claims in terms of the issues they raise if we consider assisted performance central to learning to teach and crucially important in efforts to reform teaching.