We comment critically on the notion that teachers can experience ownership of curriculum change. The evidence base for this commentary is our work on two curriculum development projects in health and physical education between 1993 and 1998. Applying a theoretical framework adapted from Bernstein's writing on the social construction of pedagogic discourse, we contend that the possibilities for teacher ownership of curriculum change are circumscribed by the anchoring of their authority to speak on curriculum matters in the local context of implementation. We argue that this anchoring of teacher voice provides a key to understanding the perennial problem of the transformation of innovative ideas from conception to implementation. We also provide some insights into the extent to which genuine participation by teachers in education reform might be possible, and we conclude with a discussion of the possibilities that exist for partnerships in reforming health and physical education.