Astra Teaching School Hub

The Astra Teaching School Hub, a NASBTT member, is the government’s designated Hub for Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe). Originally established in 2013, the Astra Teaching School was a founding partnership of just four local schools. Since then, it has grown to include over 200 schools within and beyond Buckinghamshire.

As an ITT provider, the Astra SCITT gained accreditation from the Department for Education in 2015 having previously been a School Direct Lead School. It has since awarded QTS to over 500 new entrants, including those on the Assessment Only route, meeting the needs of local primary and secondary schools for all subjects apart from early years. It was ranked ‘Outstanding’ in all ITE categories by Ofsted in 2018.

The prestigious Teaching School Hub accreditation, announced in January 2021, is recognition of the partnership’s exceptional work and provides an excellent opportunity to extend its activities and network even further. Astra’s current reach into Buckinghamshire primary and secondary state schools includes engagement through Appropriate Body services, Early Career Framework, NPQs, CPD, ITT and school to school support.

“We have a long-standing relationship with NASBTT and now having Teaching School Hub membership is fantastic,” said Astra Principal, and Teaching School Hub lead, Stephanie Rodgers. “Since we got Hub accreditation we have recruited three new members of staff, all of whom are able to access the NASBTT community and sources of information that are helping us to navigate our new status. As a Hub member, the NASBTT team assists all our staff, providing individualised support; the offer is bespoke.”

NASBTT played a critical role in advising on Astra’s bid to become a SCITT six years ago and Stephanie explained that the team had been a huge source of support to their development ever since. “We feel we are part of a bigger community and NASBTT are always there if we have an issue, and do not know what we should do or where we should go,” she revealed. ”They are incredibly responsive and knowing we will get a quick reply to any questions is tremendously reassuring. In turn, this has given us the power to make decisions with strength behind us. NASBTT are, and always have been, a really effective sounding board.”

Astra colleagues have benefitted from various aspects of NASBTT membership. “The subject knowledge enhancement networks we have accessed for the SCITT means we have huge confidence in this area as a result, and the administrators’ training and safer recruitment training we undertook were both really informative, invaluable and practically extremely useful,” Stephanie said. “Additionally, I personally value accessing the weekly blog (I especially like the regularity and diversity of the content), and colleagues have commented how the member voice articles have supported their work, including an excellent piece on cognitive science. We cannot get that intel anywhere else.”

Stephanie also personally attended the first Appropriate Bodies Hub meeting in September as part of the Teaching School Hub membership with NASBTT. “Following a great introduction by Emma Hollis (NASBTT Executive Director) we broke out into small groups via regions, which brought an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences, especially on the impact of the Early Career Framework, with our Appropriate Body hats on,” she reflected. “I swapped emails with other providers following the meeting, thus broadening our networks. These events are free as part of the membership, and easily accessible, supporting the sector in helping itself.”

She added: “Emma has done a fantastic job developing NASBTT and moved it into a league where it is the voice of providers, is trusted, and acts with credibility, integrity and professionalism. Teaching School Hubs and SCITTs clearly link together, and we are getting a healthy sharing of ideas as a result of our membership. As we attend the Teaching School Hub Council meetings, we can help NASBTT too.”


Leave a Comment