Benchmarking is one way of ensuring academic depth and rigour in teacher education. After making a case for setting benchmarks in teacher education based on the widely recognised intra-education system contextual factors, the importance of also taking into account the external (e.g. the national-social) context in which teacher education occurs is highlighted. A five-step plan is offered for ensuring academic depth and rigour in teacher education through benchmarking. The process is illustrated with examples from the South African situation. The article concludes with an outline of the contextual conditions with which teacher educators in South Africa have to cope.