Using the approach of critical discourse analysis this paper presents an examination of the notion of good teaching as constructed in the strategy document Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions. The aim is to draw attention to, and question how the language used in educational policy documents constructs particular meanings and purposes to concepts such as teaching and learning, as well as creating a particular version of the social relations within educational institutions. This in turn positions teachers and students in particular ways, constructing and limiting who they are and what they do. While contradictory discourses are found about the quality of teaching improvements are presented as being necessary for economic improvement. Similarly contradictory discourses are evident in relation to what good teaching is. However the need for reform is argued. Academics are positioned as passively following an institution-led research agenda, hence uninterested in teaching and in need of training, threats, incentives and monitoring to improve their teaching. Students are positioned as having one choice, to gain the knowledge and skills required for employment.