A key feature of the reflective action planning (RAP) scheme as it operates in Kent is that each school-based programme is a bespoke arrangement. There are essential elements determined by the model but the precise arrangements to support the reflective action planning process are the results of negotiation between the HEI and the school. It is also the case that each programme develops and changes in an organic way as group membership changes and as other internal factors come into play. In this chapter therefore, we want to explore the way these groups work by presenting a case study of the model as it operates in one school—St James’, a co-educational, comprehensive school in an urban area.
We did not choose this school because it is typical, although most of the issues about the running of such groups did in fact arise in this case. We chose St James’ because it was one of the schools represented in the research project set up to evaluate the RAP scheme (the ESACS project; see Chapter 5) and so we had collected data systematically in this school. It was also an advantage that all of us had first hand experience of working with that school’s RAP group and had therefore discussed the issues at some length as part of our research process.
The school became involved with the RAP scheme when Gary Holden was first appointed staff development co-ordinator. He wanted to try to overcome some of the problems associated with ‘traditional’, off-site INSET courses provided by external agencies. Typically, the teacher would return from such a course with ideas, but insufficient time, resources or opportunity to put them into practice (see Chapter 2). Gary wanted to put in place a programme of in-service activities more closely geared to the needs of the school and its staff.
RAP groups had already been established in several other schools, and there was increasing evidence of the model working successfully to support schools and individual teachers in their attempts to bring about school improvement through strategic planning, sustained systematic inquiry and