This paper reports on the initial findings of research carried out with a cohort of science teachers engaged in a professional development course. The aim was to investigate how professional development was perceived by participants and explore the experiences of those who undertook the course. Results suggest that initially a utilitarian discourse which framed professional development as needing to fulfil identified needs, and an alignment of the benefits of undertaking professional development with training for quantifiable career advancement took precedence over personal growth. However as the course developed, the teachers began to recognise their integration into a professional community, and also saw the course as an opportunity for self-development. We suggest that a utilitarian paradigm can sit alongside a purpose which seeks to develop teacher’s self-reflection and personal growth as a route to enrichment of pupil experience rather than focused on producing quantifiable progress in examination results.