Objective: To identify trainers’, senior house officers’ (SHOs) and their nursing colleagues’ perceptions of learning in a neonatal unit. Design: Three questionnaires were administered to staff of the neonatal intensive care unit. The first one asked consultants about activities that trainees are exposed to, a second explored the views of other permanent staff regarding the value of the educational activities available for trainees and a third explored the perception of the SHOs of their learning experiences. Setting: Regional neonatal intensive care unit. Results: Permanent clinical staff felt that the consultant ward round, emergency management, protected teaching, practical procedures and informal discussion were the most valuable learning experiences. Trainees felt that consultant and handover ward rounds were important and formal protected teaching less so. Conclusion: A mismatch of perception of learning experiences was identified in the department. These mismatches can be addressed by acknowledging the importance of when the trainees perceive they learn best and improving the learning experience in situations where they do not.