The study examines how the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) is currently being implemented in South African schools. It focuses on the contradictory discourses found within the IQMS, i.e. accountability and professional development. I argue that these two discourses are in a problematic relationship to one another. They can therefore only be implemented simultaneously with great difficulty. Emphasis is also placed on the importance of context when implementing policy, also referred to as policy 'enactment' (Ball, Maguire & Braun 2011). It is argued that policy is interpreted and made sense of differently, depending on the context. Context matters on two levels. First, because the IQMS contains both international and national ideas. The former deals with the neoliberal and global trends encompassed within accountability, while the latter is a discourse aimed at addressing uniquely localised education issues in South Africa. Second, context matters insofar as the IQMS is implemented in different school and classroom contexts in South Africa. In an effort to understand teachers and school management team members' perceptions of accountability and professional development in the IQMS, a qualitative, multiple case study design was used. Teachers and school management team members were interviewed at two distinct schools, one former model C school and one township school in order to determine different contexts' effects on the enactment of the IQMS. By conducting qualitative case studies, the perceptions and experiences of teachers in real life settings are depicted. What emerged was criticism of the IQMS across contexts, in that it neither effectively holds teachers accountable nor professionally develops them. Although context did not influence teachers' views and perceptions of the IQMS, it did influence the extent to which they met certain IQMS requirements. Other noteworthy findings include South African teachers' acceptance of high-stakes accountability and, contrary to the literature, teachers stating that they prefer more, albeit revised, ways to evaluate their work.