This article draws on an action research project in primary and secondary schools which was funded through the Campaign for Learning, and supported by Newcastle University with a focus on ‘Learning to Learn’. This is a potentially useful concept for teachers and academics as attempts are made to move beyond curriculum‐driven and assessment‐dominated education towards inclusive and lifelong learning. At the end of the academic years 2003–2004 and 2004–2005, a total of 43 teachers from schools involved in researching Learning to Learn completed questionnaires and were interviewed about the progress of their individual research projects in the context of the wider programme. They were asked to discuss issues of autonomy and control, expectations and motivation and how change was manifesting itself in their contexts. Clear messages about the need for teacher ownership of the research balanced with the need for scaffolding emerged from the analysis.