This paper addresses two questions: how successful has the SCQF really been? and can its ‘success’ be attributed to its character as a communications framework? It revisits the celebratory account and compares it with an alternative, ‘sceptical account’ which draws attention to the SCQF’s long pre-history and the role of earlier sub-frameworks in laying its foundations. The paper is thus an exercise in the science of cross-national policy learning, which aims to identify valid policy lessons from other countries’ experience. This is distinguished from the sociology of policy learning, which examines the learning that actually occurs and the cross-national influences on policy behaviour. Both types of policy learning are, of course, relevant to NQFs.