A Class Act!


Viewpoint of a school governor on School Centred Initial Teacher Training


Jess juggling

Like it or not, the days of standing still or “resting on our educational  laurels” have long gone.   As we know, the rate and pace of change in teaching is so dramatic that it may even seem frightening, especially when it feels like it’s being imposed ‘from above’.  However, the ‘juggling act’ of teaching works because the people involved are always responsive, nimble and up for a challenge, not just for the sake of change but to ensure we do not get left behind.  Teachers and leaders in the best schools are never slow to innovate because our students expect, and deserve, the best education we can provide them in the context of the 21st century.

And one of our main challenges is the recruitment and retention of high quality teaching staff, particularly in some subject areas.


It’s true that with every challenge comes a new opportunity to change the way we do things for the better.  In the past, most schools have worked with universities to help train teachers, rather than leading the way themselves.  But today, schools in Buckinghamshire are able to embrace the future by taking a far more central role, joining with Dr Challoner’s as a School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) provider with the status to train and accredit new teachers rather than relying on universities to do so.

Jess Ivey and students

This prestigious SCITT status was awarded to Dr Challoner’s in May 2015 following a lengthy bidding process, working in collaboration with a group of local schools (some 28 primaries, secondaries, special schools and pupil referral units are part of the scheme).  Together, we will form a central hub for up to 75 postgraduate teacher training places in 2016/17 for graduates and career changers from our local area.  Applications open via UCAS on 27th October 2015, and trainees will gain qualified teacher status (QTS) with or without PGCE and know the schools they will train in; this is in contrast to the more traditional approach where graduates are placed in schools by the university and schools have little say in where they train.

Our training rates for fee-funded QTS are competitive at £7K for the year, and our PGCE partner will be the world-renowned Institute of Education, University College London, costing an extra £2K.  Trainees can also access up to £25K in a tax-free bursary for training to teach in some subjects.  Salaried routes are also available for some subjects.

So what’s “in it” for local schools in Bucks?

Bucks SCITT map


Through the Astra SCITT, schools from Aylesbury to Beaconsfield to Amersham are able to recruit, train and hopefully employ the very best new teachers who want to be a part of the local education system.  This is critical at a time when finding the best teachers is challenging in many subject areas and for many schools. For our existing staff, there is the opportunity to mentor trainees, providing an opportunity to reflect on their own teaching methods and providing another avenue for teaching methods at DCGS and other schools to remain at the ‘cutting edge’.

Another advantage is the way the SCITT provides an ‘umbrella’ bringing schools closer together in order to share best practice, as well as offering trainees a career pathway for the future in Buckinghamshire - a model of leadership development within the Astra Alliance Teaching School that works for everyone’s benefit.

So if you would like to know more, please visit our website: www.astra-alliance.com (Train to Teach) or give our SCITT team a call to find out more!

Shaun Kennedy, DCGS Governor

September 2015