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“The quality of provision is outstanding.  Leaders, managers, tutors and mentors have worked purposefully and persistently to develop, establish and advance the partnership’s core principles of excellence, collaboration, innovation and support.” 
Ofsted ITE Inspection Report, 2018

 

Who we are

We are an outstanding, forward-thinking partnership offering initial teacher training, early career teacher induction, continuing professional development and school to school support, led by Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham.  Having gained Teaching School Hub accreditation - one of only 87 schools in the country to do so - we are in a position to extend our provision further beyond our existing Teaching School, SCITT and ECT Appropriate Body services in order to further address the recruitment and retention needs of our local area.  This includes the implementation of the Early Career Framework and revised suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs).  Our focus is to provide high quality training and support to benefit the learning of all teachers and students, underpinned by our commitment to excellence, collaboration, innovation and support.

We are linked to a range of research institutions, including University of London for the SCITT’s PGCE provision.  We have collaborated with CAMSTAR (Cambridge, School Teachers and Research) on action research projects and we are in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University for our well-established mentor support programme.

Our partners are part of a genuinely collaborative school-led partnership with an Ofsted Outstanding ITE provider that works for the benefit of its local community.  Working with Astra is exciting and very rewarding with a positive range of benefits including exceptional professional development and working with a supportive team of experienced professionals based in an OFSTED Outstanding lead school.  We have an innovative approach to training and technology, embracing new challenges and working collaboratively with our partner schools.  We aim to reflect our lead school’s motto, Excellence with Integrity and the core values of Aspiration, Kindness and Resilience are embedded in our practice.  

 

Background and Context

Established in 2013, the Astra Teaching School was a founding partnership of just four local schools.  Since then, it has grown to include nearly 200 schools both within and beyond Buckinghamshire.  

The Astra SCITT gained accreditation from the DfE as an ITT provider in 2015 and has since awarded QTS to over 300 new entrants, including those on the Assessment Only route, meeting the needs of local primary and secondary schools, including selective, non-selective, comprehensive, special schools, PRUs and schools in all Ofsted Categories.  Each year the trainee cohort is placed in local primary and secondary  state schools.  The Astra SCITT has two recruitment Hubs in Bucks (Amersham and Aylesbury) and provides outstanding support for new teachers and their mentors, rated ‘outstanding’ in all categories for ITE by Ofsted in November 2018. 

Our Appropriate Body provision for ECT induction is also the largest in Bucks and, like our Assessment Only provision, serves schools throughout the UK and overseas. 

We are also an experienced delivery agent for research-led CPD; we accredit, train and deploy over 100 ABLE's (Astra/Buckinghamshire Leaders of Education)  from and into a range of schools in Buckinghamshire. 

Our prestigious Teaching School Hub accreditation celebrates the exceptional work of our partnership so far, and provides an excellent opportunity to extend our activities and network even further.  Our current reach into Buckinghamshire primary and secondary state schools is shown below, with engagement through ITT, ECT and ECF, NPQs and research-led CPD.

 

“Astra was the obvious choice of training providers, with the wide range of schools, and enthusiastic leaders.  It provided a great starting point towards a brand new career!” 

“For me, it was vitally important that I worked with an institution that would push and develop me to my fullest potential.”