This paper reports on the findings of a study on the role of social work field education programmes in the transmission of developmental social work knowledge in Southern and East Africa. It highlights the challenges in locating developmental social work placements and the creativity shown by social work educators in addressing these challenges and improving learning opportunities for social work students. Both academics and students were found to be committed to developmental social work, within a willing practice environment hampered by knowledge, capacity and resource constraints. Social work education was found to be playing a transformative role through the teaching of a developmental social work curriculum and the creation of collaborative developmental social work learning experiences. Social work educators trained and supported agency supervisors in developmental social work, while students served as conduits, modelling developmental social work practice. What has yet to be determined in future research is the students’ perspective of this developmental educational environment.