Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to explore how education workers position themselves with an organisational culture and fashion a workplace identity. The research involved both professionally qualified teachers and support staff in an inclusive approach and drew theoretical concepts from Structuralist approaches such as labour process theory to Foucauldian post-structuralism and Habermasian critical theory on the nature of identity, power and control. This paper also sought to establish whether there was any difference in the positions taken by teaching and support staff. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology used a mixed methods approach. Following on from a pilot questionnaire, a series of research conversations was conducted drawing on Habermas’s interpretation of phenomenology and the co-construction of knowledge. Findings – The findings suggest that there are clear differences in the way teaching and support staff construct their workplace identity. In general, teachers were more critical of Central Government policy, as well as the practices of senior management,thanwasthe case for support staff that tended to bemoredeferential. Research limitations/implications – As a case study of a single institution, there are inherent limitations in the generalisability of such research. However, as a snap shot of organisational life, the research provides a useful insight into the complexities of workplace relationships and the identities workers take. Originality/value – This paper, albeit on a small scale, provides an insight into two areas not often reported on. First, on reporting on a Sixth Form College, the research aims to address the paucity of published research on this particular organisation type in the English educational system. Second, in placing teaching and support staff alongside each other, it provides a deeper insight into organisational life from differing positions.