Tikunoff, Ward & Lazar (1980) argue that parity or 'equality of status' (p.12) is one of the most important ingredients of successful collaboration. During the placement of students on teaching practice (TP), therefore, it can be argued that school and university personnel should be equal partners if the collaboration is to be effective. This paper reports one set of data from a study of Irish physical education teacher education (PETE) students and considers the impact of ineffective school-university partnerships on their professional learning during TP. The study employed a range of qualitative research methods centred on one umbrella case study and five individual case studies. Data were analysed using a systematic grounded theory process and findings indicated a perceived lack of parity between schools and the university. This resulted in PETE students developing in an unsupported and often isolated manner. The implications for career-long professional learning are considered.