This book is about teachers as agents of change and this chapter aims to explore teachers’ capacity to exercise leadership amd to initiate and manage school improvement work, through an illustrative case study. It is essentially a story about one teacher’s apprenticeship as a change agent. Andrew’s story was told in his own critical narrative account; it was then explored and developed in tape recorded critical conversations with his tutor and in research interviews with his senior managers.
Andrew entered the profession in 1992, a science teacher bringing with him the highest of recommendations from his PGCE course. In his second year of teaching he joined the school’s Reflective Action Planning group, which supported him through his first experiences of initiating and managing development work.
At the beginning of his second year with the programme, Andrew experienced some difficulty in being clear about his personal development priorities. He felt that he was expected to continue with the small-scale curriculum development work he had been dealing with previously, but he was more interested in matters beyond his own classroom teaching and even beyond the science department. The RAP group provided Andrew with a forum within which he could explore his professional values and ideas about the school. He was concerned about what a number of colleagues thought to be high levels of pupil disaffection and low standards of pupil behaviour in the school; he believed that the selective system in Kent had led to low levels of expectation and a lack of respect for students. The school had a wide ability intake but, at the end of Year 8, the top 25 per cent of the ability range was selected for the grammar school; in Andrew’s view, this had a demoralizing effect on the majority of the students, who were not selected and remained at the school.
Andrew had read about ‘student councils’ in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) and had begun to think about the impact that such an innovation