This article compares English and French approaches to secondary Initial Teacher Training, from the perspectives of trainee teachers just completing their programmes. The research explored three main issues with the two groups of trainees: How well prepared did they feel to meet the demands and challenges of teaching? How well supported were they by mentors in the school‐based element of the training? How did they view the procedures and criteria used to assess their fitness for teaching? Their responses revealed some experiences in common (for example, concern about their preparation for working with difficult pupils, and the value of developmental feedback from mentors), but also some significant differences, such as the balance between theory and practice and the assessment processes. The comparative analysis raises important issues about the values and assumptions underpinning teaching and how they influence the training process.