The Open University has been working with the University of Fort Hare on its Distance Education Project since 1997, helping to develop its innovative distance education programme for primary teachers in the Eastern Cape. Recently the OU has been involved in researching the impact of this programme on teachers’ perceptions of their practice and their classroom practice. This case study explores the context in which the programme was developed, the philosophy that underpinned its development, its structure, materials and the role played by the Open University. Using preliminary findings of teacher‐learner perceptions of the programme, the case study examines the effectiveness of the teacher support and their responses to the programme. Initial findings from questionnaires and semi‐structured interviews highlight the cohesive and holistic impact of the programme. The focus on context and culture in developing the programme is seen as significant by all teacher‐learners in challenging and motivating different ways of thinking about their teaching, learning and their practice.