Annual Astra Partnership Conference - not just any Wednesday.......

With joy and (some) relief, Wednesday 22nd May marked the ‘beginning of the end’ for the Astra training year at our final midweek professional studies session before the conclusion to the QTS course.


And what a Wednesday it turned out to be!  With workshops, a Headteacher panel, Professor Guy Claxton and plenty of sandwiches, I would like to think it was a real highlight in our training calendar this year, bringing together Astra trainees past and present as well as colleagues from other ITT providers and students from Bucks New Uni.  The photos featured in this report capture some of the smiles and key moments of the day - although I am sure there will have been many others that my camera missed.

Thank Yous …

The Astra Team are really grateful to Bucks New Uni for hosting us for the second annual conference, particularly “John the MC”, Rebecca Rochon and Paul Morgan for speaking and organising things so beautifully.  Thanks as well to all who submitted questions in advance so that the Headteachers were suitably “grilled” under the spotlight about various controversial topics concerning both national and local issues in education.  Guy Claxton’s thought-provoking session provoked one delegate to “completely rethink the purpose of exams and the curriculum”, and I am sure he also appreciated the questioning from trainees afterwards, showing that new career entrants are not afraid to challenge even the most high profile educationalists!


Evaluation forms gathered at the end of the day record that the event was “welcoming”, “informative”, “well organised”, “inspiring” and “illuminating”.  Comments also show that the workshops provided “lots to take away” and apply immediately, such as many trainees commenting on the fantastic and “practical strategies for dealing with bullying”.  It is also brilliant that another person reported how the conference made them “consider in-school research for the first time” and “gave an incredibly valuable, rare insight into SLT and school leadership”, courtesy of our Headteacher panel.  One delegate also recorded that, as a result of the day, they will try to set up a “journal or research club” in their school, which is superb!

So what could we do better next year?

There have been calls via the evaluation forms for additional workshops next year on SEND, reflection, disadvantaged children, creativity and differentiation, all of which have been noted, as well as issues with the expensive parking (sorry), rather over-enthusiastic air conditioning and the desire for the Headteachers to speak for longer (ideally with Nick Gibb in the room!).  We also acknowledge that some of the sessions could have been more clearly described, with our apologies. However, one of my favourite suggestions is for current Astra trainees to lead a session at the conference next year … and I would be interested to hear from the (anonymous) person who put that excellent idea on their evaluation form!


And finally, I think we all have access to some new words and new ways of thinking as a result of the conference, with the below selected from some of the evaluation forms; perhaps try to get them into a conversation with family and friends during half term?

  • FAIL (First Attempt In Learning)

  • Epigenetic

  • Neuroplasticity

  • Crap Detector


So perhaps, on reflection, it would be more accurate to describe the conference as the ‘end of the beginning’ rather than the ‘beginning of the end’ …?

Happy reflecting - and see you soon!

Stephanie and the Astra Team