The United Kingdom Central Council's proposals for nurse education (Project 2000: A New Preparation for Practice) were implemented in 13 demonstration districts in England in 1989. In 1991, as part of an English National Board-funded research study, the author conducted 15 interviews with first line managers from three of these demonstration districts. The data were reinterpreted in 1995; the experience of implementing educational change in the community setting was discovered to be a complex and difficult process for the managers involved. They found themselves confronted with sometimes conflicting responsibilities; their perception of their role encompassed the meeting of a range of needs, which are presented in this paper within three categories. Firstly, the managers felt they had an obligation to meet the needs of students and of education in general in order both to provide an adequate experience for each individual student and to safeguard standards in community nursing in the long term. Secondly, they were confronted with the need to mitigate the pressures Project 2000 placed on‘their’staff. The new educational programme meant that community nurses spent much more time with students than formerly, and the difficulties they encountered were exacerbated by uncertainty about their role with these students. Finally, and most importantly, managers were responsible for ensuring that clients’needs were met. In particular, they saw it as their role to ensure that the presence of large numbers of students in the community for long periods of time did not compromise standards in the delivery of community nursing services.