This interview-based study investigates staff perceptions of their involvement in a university centre which focuses on the development of assessment for learning (AfL) approaches. Learning about assessment is examined both as conceptual change and within communities of practice. Involvement in the centre ranged from perceived exclusion to culture change. Interviewees held diverse, yet student-focused understandings of AfL and perceived the centre as a community of like-minded practitioners and a symbol of the university endorsing AfL practices. The centre contributed to the establishment of local ‘communities of assessment practice’, with some members acting as ‘brokers’ between communities. The study highlights the benefits of conceptually underpinned academic development and the role of AfL as a concept for the integration of implicit and explicit knowledge.