Astra is providing a highly effective and professional local route for local people to train to be teachers. This is certainly having a significant contribution in supporting the teacher supply issues that we have in this area of Buckinghamshire

Kevin Patrick, Principal, Chiltern Hills Academy, Buckinghamshire

Dr Challoner's Grammar School is the lead school in the Astra SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) and the Astra Teaching School Hub, Buckinghamshire, working across over 250 local primary and secondary schools, as well as Alternative Provision and Special Schools. This status as both a SCITT and DfE accredited Teaching School Hub ensures outstanding networking and high quality resourcing for teaching staff, including the deployment of expertly trained and specialist colleagues from Dr Challoner’s and other schools across our region, who contribute significantly to the partnership.

Map of Astra SCITT placement schools and Astra Hub

Our Qualified Teacher training programmes build on nearly a decade of initial teacher training (ITT) experience and are based on the Core Content Framework to cover the most effective pedagogies and classroom interventions. Our ITT curriculum aims to enhance teachers’ capabilities and understanding in order to improve pupil outcomes over time through synchronous and asynchronous learning, creating communities of practice with trainee workload and wellbeing in mind. Astra teacher educators are selected for their ability to model effective pedagogy and work with trainees to set timely and realistic targets that are monitored through weekly mentor meetings, formative assessment points and QTS assignments. Links to our PGCE provider, Goldsmiths University of London, are strong, and this provision is seamlessly integrated into our QTS programme, benefitting all trainees.

Our Assessment Only route to QTS also provides a clear and flexible framework for colleagues with two years planning, teaching and assessment experience to gain QTS outside our core QTS training programme. Links to our PGCE provider, Goldsmiths University of London, are strong, and this provision is seamlessly integrated into our QTS programme, benefitting all trainees.

Colleagues designated as Astra and Buckinghamshire Leaders of Education (ABLEs) are also deployed into the SCITT and Teaching School Hub. They are rigorously trained in the fields of leadership development, mentoring and cognitive science. Additionally, skills of our ITT mentors are further enhanced through both centre-led training and our twilight mentor certification programme, co-facilitated by Buckinghamshire New University, which has been operational over five years.

Distinctive features of the Astra SCITT include:

  • A programme that was judged by Ofsted in 2018 as 'Outstanding' in all categories
  • Both QTS only and PGCE routes into gaining Qualified Teacher Status
  • A PGCE - worth 60 masters credits - offered in partnership with Goldsmiths, University of London
  • A well established, research led and evidence informed programme, with considerable experience of training teachers
  • Training by experienced subject and phase experts
  • An exceptionally close relationship between partner schools across and beyond Buckinghamshire
  • Careful consideration of placement schools, ensuring that trainees are well matched to their specialisms
  • High employment and completion rates, well above national benchmarking figures
  • Two contrasting placement schools and additional visits to a range of educational settings.

To find out more:

  • Please contact a member of the Astra SCITT team via or telephone 01494 787573.
  • A link to the Astra Prospectus for 2022/23 is here and more information about our training can be found on the Astra website, linked here.
  • You can also watch the Astra Principal, Stephanie Rodgers, speaking to David Atkinson about the Astra organisation here