A Case Study of Astra TALENT Development


TPAMr Patteson's journey from Head of Department to Senior Leadership    

At Astra, we are incredibly proud to say that the impact of a range of outstanding professional development opportunities can be extremely powerful, as Mr Tim Patteson, Head of Geography (who has recently been appointed as Assistant Headteacher at Chesham Grammar School) has recently revealed.  Before leaving Challoner’s for his new role at the end of the 2014/15 school year, he agreed to be interviewed by sixth form student, Toby Pickard:

How did the Astra TALENT leadership opportunities help you to reach your goals?

From 2013, I had the opportunity to facilitate the Outstanding Teaching Programme (OTP), which aims to enhance the practice of teachers who are securely ‘good’.  This was an invaluable learning experience which involved coaching other teachers outside my own school to help them reflect and improve their own practice - and it was immensely rewarding to see so many ‘outstanding’ judgements by the end of the sessions.  There were also significant networking opportunities involved, as I worked alongside the Assistant Head teacher from Beaconsfield School to facilitate the 6 session course.

During 2014/15, I also took the ‘brave’ decision to shadow the Director of the Astra SCITT and Teaching School, Stephanie Rodgers, including interviewing prospective trainees and organising their open afternoon and induction sessions.  It was an eye-opening and exhilarating experience, which inspired me even further towards senior leadership - as well as showing me its realities!

I also took part last year in the Astra / Wycombe High School Internship Programme for middle and senior leaders.  This programme allows teachers / leaders to complete a short project with an agreed focus in another school and then present findings to their senior leadership team.  I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Sir William Ramsey school in Hazlemere, where I investigated stretch and challenge in the sixth form.  It was a powerful and enlightening experience, which honed my skills of observation, professionalism and presentation.

Finally, early last year I successfully bid for an Astra Research Bursary of £500, and used the money towards starting my NPQSL, a qualification for senior leaders or aspiring senior leaders, where you have to study four online modules over the year, and then run a whole school project on formative assessment.  I am looking forward to publishing my final research project via the Astra Alliance website in 2016.

What have been the highlights of your professional development with Astra?

I’ve really enjoyed them all, because they have taken me outside my own context in the Geography team, working with a greater number of people from a diverse range of backgrounds; ultimately it has given me a really great insight into what it is like to be an Assistant Headteacher before starting my new role, and was also invaluable interview preparation!

What advice would you give to others wanting to develop their career into Senior Leadership?

I think when you are preparing for SLT, you have to have evidence that you are both committed to your own professional development (the NPQSL has been crucial to show this) and you have had an impact across the whole school, not just in your department.  Everything I have done with the Astra Alliance has provided examples where I have had an impact across different schools.

Do you hope to continue to work to develop your career with Astra Alliance in the future?

Very closely; my role there is partly to be in charge of professional development of staff at Chesham Grammar School, and it is also going to be looking after trainees recruited through Astra.  As Astra is now a SCITT, I anticipate that I will continue to work closely with Astra schools, and I’m excited to be involved at such a pivotal and innovative time.

Toby Pickard, Year 12,  July 2015


If you are interested in pursuing some of the Astra TALENT opportunities mentioned above, details can be found via the links below:


Research Bursaries: three bursaries worth £500 each for teachers across Buckinghamshire, (closing date for applications is 1st December 2015).  Please see here shortly for more details about eligibility criteria and how to apply.