In this paper, we describe part of an Australian national research project that aimed to find out how well prepared beginning teachers are to teach literacy. A majority of beginning teachers participating in a series of national surveys and focus group meetings were confident about their personal literacy skills, their conceptual understandings of literacy, their understanding of curriculum documents and assessment strategies and their broad preparation to teach. Fewer beginning teachers were confident about their capacity to teach specific aspects of literacy such as viewing, spelling, grammar and phonics, or about their capacity to meet the challenges of student diversity. Senior staff working with beginning teachers were generally sceptical about the quality of teacher preparation for teaching literacy and were less confident than the beginning teachers about personal literacy skills. We discuss these findings in relation to the relative importance placed on particular substantive and structural issues by the study participants and in terms of previous findings.