Site-based education development now constitutes a common approach to preparing learners for particular occupations, enabling them to secure employment and at the same time achieve broader social, economic and personal outcomes. New forms of partnerships, other than traditional vendor–client relations, are necessary to achieve such multi-faceted goals. This can be achieved by recognising and appropriately integrating pedagogical contributions in different sites to cater for learning needs. Accordingly, professionals from educational institutions need to actively collaborate and engage with a range of key personnel to form partnerships for the purposes of harnessing and facilitating learning opportunities within the constraints of given sites. An action research process enables participating partners to work towards and achieve agreed outcomes. Outcomes addressing areas causing concern are developed and discussed ‘on site’, forming site-based education development. Using a collaborative action research methodology that addresses issues identified by those in particular sites, solutions can be made visible and problems worked through. This enables the partners to achieve agreed outcomes developed during the life of the partnership. Outcomes and possible training areas are developed and discussed by key partners, particularly those in workplaces. In this article, we draw on intersecting sets of understandings around the philosophy of site-based education development, founded mainly on two overarching theories of workplace learning and practice architectures, to theorise partnerships for site-based education development. Some findings and ideas from two exemplar action research projects are presented to exemplify the key concepts.