Student activism played a significant role in the political emancipation of South Africa, and when the S.A. Schools Act was promulgated provision was made for learner participation in school governance. This study shows how education policy was mediated at a representative number of Western Cape schools from, using the structural, symbolic, human resource and political frames of Bolman and Deal (1997) as the basis of the investigation. The research produced diverse findings. At the one end there were many schools at which the RCL received the full support of most of the main roleplayers. These councils were fully functional and were making a significant contribution to effective school governance. At the other end of the spectrum there were significant numbers of councils that were not receiving the requisite support, and were merely tolerated to ensure legal compliance. The factors preventing the development of education policy into praxis were found to be of a technical, cultural and political nature. Suggestions are made as to how these varied and complex challenges could be met in the interests of furthering the democratic goals that underpin the policy.