An outstanding year

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Congratulations to our most recent Astra School Direct teacher trainees, who have all achieved their Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and been graded ‘outstanding’; a testament to their hard work, dedication and the fantastic support they have received throughout the year from Astra schools, including Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Dr Challoner’s High School, The Misbourne, Chesham Grammar School, Amersham School, Alfriston Special School, The Wycombe Grange Pupil Referral Unit and The Beaconsfield School.

Trainees meal June 15

Some of the Astra Class of 2015

Graduates of the Astra Teacher Training programme, currently run alongside Reading University, tell us that a big incentive for choosing the Astra Alliance School Direct scheme is the variety of schools in the local area we work with.  For the schools participating in the School Direct scheme, teacher training also gives rich opportunities for existing staff to observe, mentor and reflect on their own practice, engaging in on-going debates about what makes outstanding teaching and learning for our students in school.

Experiences of training to teach with Astra

Over the course of 2014/15, each recent graduate of the teacher training programme has had their own individual experiences, although they all thoroughly enjoyed teaching their classes!  Whilst some teachers such as Mrs Ingram (History) emphasised a specific enjoyment in teaching certain year groups, which in her case was Year 10 class, others relished teaching across an array of ages, including Mr Hamill (Biology) who adapted his style to teach his subject to students at various key stages. Mr Hamill would absolutely recommend the Alliance for people with a passion for their subject and teaching.

Miss Toms (Drama) was particularly impressed by the Astra Alliance’s desire to improve her development, individualising their approach to accommodate her needs.  The Astra Alliance’s support provision and good reputation were the key factors that drew Mr Hammerton (PE) towards the DCGS-­led organisation. The highlights for him were the excellent mentoring available, for support and guidance, and the opportunity to improve knowledge in a wide range of physical activities, as well as training at an excellent school.  It is also evident that all the trainee teachers learned lots about school life and relished the many opportunities to get involved. Ms Taylor (Art) took on the role of a form tutor and found she was able to develop relationships with individual students, taking pride in seeing the personal progression from student to student and watching their confidence grow.


James HLooking to the future

It seems that the trainees for September 2015 are eagerly anticipating the start of a new school year already.  Mr Ashcroft (PE), currently working at DCGS as a PE Assistant has commented that the friendly school environment has already helped him to become fully immersed in school life. Additionally, ex-Challoner student Mr Stephenson will be starting his training in the English Department at The Misbourne School in September, although will be doing part of his placement at DCGS as well. 

In total, next academic year we are delighted to be welcoming 16 new trainees to train through the Astra Learning Alliance, working across our network of seven secondary schools in Buckinghamshire ­in a wide range of subjects including History, Art, Physics, Music and Biology.  This is of course in anticipation of an even larger cohort for the first year of our SCITT operation in September 2016!

We are also very proud to welcome Mrs Whitby and Mrs Timpson to Dr Challoner's after both decided to take up permanent jobs in the English and Physics departments respectively from September 2015

Karen W


Mrs Whitby (English)

Lydia T




Mrs Timpson (Physics)






More information

If you would like to know more about teacher training opportunities with DCGS/Astra Alliance, including starting your own career in teaching, please contact Mrs Stephanie Rodgers, AHT/Director of Teaching School at or Ms Gill Byrne, Teacher Training Administrator at  We would also welcome your support in marketing and publicising teacher training opportunities, so please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and connect with us on Linkedin!


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