Curriculum commentators have identified well-documented participatory pathways for key competency development. However, there is a paucity of New Zealand research that takes a poststructural view of how competencies play out in classroom discourses. It is the contention of this article that, rather than learners ‘having’ agency to transfer competencies from one situation to the next, competencies can be produced and enacted as learners shift subjectivities across discourses. The findings are particularly relevant to New Zealand schooling contexts that seek to embed key competencies into day-to-day classroom practices. Located in a Year 9 English classroom of a regional high school, this analysis furnishes an example of learner agency in action when a student navigates classroom discourses to take up a position as both a novice writer and a leader.