In the drive to improve standards, the collection and dissemination of numerical data still directs much contemporary educational policy. However, recent publications and debates seemingly attempt to reorient discussion from performance to learning. In support, constructivism is often referenced as a contributor in this endeavour. However, constructivism is not a single unified theory either of knowledge or pedagogy. This article identifies one version of constructivist thinking, social constructivism, both in terms of its underlying epistemology (theory of knowledge) and related pedagogy. Contemporary educational theories are then outlined to demonstrate that many practical solutions and theoretical ideas now presented as ‘good learning and teaching’ have much in common with social constructivist thinking. Finally, the article concludes by identifying two issues that require further discussion and debate if pedagogy of a social constructivist nature is to be considered.