Game, Set and Match for the Astra SCITT!

Partners meet to talk strategy for SCITT vision and recruitment

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Unlike the 2015 Wimbledon men’s final, the Astra SCITT partners’ meeting on 30th June was held on one of England’s hottest recent days.  Perhaps some visitors were feeling the heat in more ways than one as they made their way to HP6 (rather than SW19) to set the vision, purpose and identity of our SCITT, as well as ambitious plans to recruit up to 75 trainee teachers in 2016/17.  Wisely, the SCITT team prioritised lowering the room temperatures, in order to facilitate out the cool, calm collective thinking necessary!

Having identified excellence, innovation, support and collaboration as our core values, we believe we can show potential applicants (whether university leavers or career changers) that we are the ‘hot’ choice for them as an outstanding provider they can trust, and with whom they can excel.

We know that communicating our message and vision effectively is essential; and timing is critical.  Between now and October, when the UCAS application system opens, we aim to ensure the Astra name is highly visible and recognisable through a well-orchestrated marketing, publicity and advertising campaign.  Avenues such as social media, posters, school banners and even magnetic signs for school minibuses are being explored, as well as more traditional methods of print media and advertising.  Yet we also know never to doubt the power of word of mouth – so we are calling on our parents and alumni and for partner schools to do the same.  

In Buckinghamshire, For Buckinghamshire

Sweltering under a cloudless sky, we dedicated most of this well-attended meeting to ensuring we have a winning combination and an effective, joined up strategy for success.

In the background, there are a variety of factors combine to make it a challenging time for recruitment, with rising demand and scarce supply of trainees entering the profession.  There was unanimity over a common cause: we are custodians of great schools and we need great teachers to ensure standards continue to rise for our students. They only get a single shot at education and it is our duty to make sure they succeed.  We agreed that it is simply not enough to just recruit trainee teachers who achieve QTS; those teachers must feel supported in their ambition to grow a career in Bucks in order to stay in Bucks;  local supply meeting local demand, benefiting all our children.

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New Astra mentors and staff talk strategy and opportunities for 2016/17

To do that, we must nurture our own, providing great places to work and retain the teachers we train, offering them a rewarding, challenging, career with high job satisfaction.  

So what did we decide should feature in our offer to attract and retain talented trainees?  

  1. Top of the list is excellence. The Astra SCITT is the first secondary-led SCITT in Bucks and we aim to also be the best through innovation, support and collaboration - our agreed values;

  2. Our partnership may be new, but we call on 28 respected schools who bring genuine quality together with a long and successful history of initial teacher training provision;

  3. We offer breadth, depth and diversity, with experience in a wide variety of school environments that trainees need: primary, secondary, grammar, non-selective, comprehensive, urban, rural, co-ed and single sex - you name it, we have it!

  4. The Astra Alliance is supported by our world-leading university partner, The Institute of Education (UCL) for our optional PGCE, and we aim to engage in leading edge thinking and research into pedagogy where trainees thrive in a genuinely creative and innovative culture.  

  5. We are extremely well organised and inspirationally led, incredibly supportive and caring.  We mentor our colleagues too, providing great feedback, and support, for trainees at every stage.

  6. We offer extensive continuing professional development opportunities during and beyond the training year – we don’t let up, providing timely training and development throughout a teacher’s career.

  7. Finally, we have real integrity; trainees can see this from appointment to induction, from training to completion. We mean what we say - and we deliver all that we say we will.

 

Inevitably there will be some heat to face, even when the summer sun starts to fade in the Autumn, and some serious competition from more established University providers that might even make Djokovic pause for breath.  However, we know we have to be the best if we want to attract and retain the very best for our students, and we’re more than up for that challenge.   You’ve got to be in it to win it and so we want to thank our 28 partner schools for all their support so far - and hope that they share our sentiments to bring the SCITT on - game, set and match!

Dr Mark Pegg, SCITT and School Governor, 13 July 2015