A group of staff from schools across Teesside and County Durham have been recognised for their commitment and long service.

The 64 staff members have accumulated over 1000 years between them and work for Ad Astra Academy Trust which has ten primary schools under its umbrella.

The awards were presented at the Trust’s recent annual Festival of Education at Teesside University which was attended by over 350 school staff, educationalists and the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham.

Speaking at the event, Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “Our employees are our most valuable resource, and this initiative reflects the Trust’s desire to recognise long service, and to thank staff for their continued support, commitment and loyalty to the Trust.

“Service milestones are achieved at five-year intervals following ten years’ service. As many employees have transferred into the Trust all continuous service is counted.

“To each of these employees, I just want to simply say thank you for all you do.”

Each employee will receive a badge, certificate and letter. The badge contains the number of years worked.

Martyn Ingram, the Trust’s Human Resources Manager added: “Our staff are central to everything we do, and it is important that we recognise their hard work and commitment.

“The 64 staff members receiving awards accumulated 1075 years’ service between them. This is a significant achievement and deserves to be recognised in this way.”

The ten primary schools within Ad Astra are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees, Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough and Deaf Hill and Kelloe in County Durham.

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and over 500 employees.

A well-known Hartlepool public figure is to stand down from a key education role which he has held for the last nine years.

Chris Simmons has been Chair of Ad Astra Academy Trust since 2015 and the announcement came at the Trust’s recent annual Festival of Education at Teesside University.

Ad Astra Academy Trust has ten primary schools under its umbrella across Teesside and County Durham.

Mr Simmons, who headed up the music department at the former Henry Smith School in Hartlepool for over 25 years and was a key figure in Hartlepool Youth Choir for decades, received a special send off from dignitaries and pupils.

Mrs Sue Snowden, the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, who carries out duties on behalf of His Majesty King Charles, thanked Mr Simmons for his service and along with pupils presented him with a star, which is named after him, and artwork of a tree where pupils from each school printed fingerprints to represent the leaves.

Speaking at the event, Sue Snowden, said: “Chris’s impact on children’s lives in terms of education across the region and especially within Hartlepool has spanned almost 60 years, and his impact within the world of music has been evident worldwide.

“Chris has always been a champion of children and in particular drove the policy of the Council to improve educational outcomes for Hartlepool children and was granted Freedom of the Borough in 2005.

“It gives me the greatest pleasure to thank you personally for your hard work, commitment, and dedication and present you with this token of appreciation for all you have done.”

Chris Simmons thanked the Lord-Lieutenant and then went on to praise Ad Astra Academy Trust staff.

He said: “I cannot thank you enough for everything you do in driving the Trust forward. All of your efforts and hard work will stay with children forever and help them enormously on their journey in life.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to serve you in my various roles. There’s a great togetherness and staff trust each other and believe in one another.”

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “Chris has been an inspiration and pillar of strength to everyone across the Trust.

“He has carried out the role with great empathy and integrity and been a tremendous servant.

“Chris has been by my side for over 27 years in different roles and I cannot thank him enough for his support, tireless effort and dedication.”

Mr Simmons has also been Chair of Governors at West View Primary School and Vice-Chair of Lynnfield Primary School and a Hartlepool councillor for nine years.

He was also Vice-Chair of the British Federation of Young Choirs and President and then Vice-President of the European Federation of Choirs for 6 years.

Chris Simmons will stand down at the end of the summer term but continue to be a member of Ad Astra Academy Trust.

The ten primary schools within Ad Astra are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees, Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough and Deaf Hill and Kelloe in County Durham.

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and over 500 employees.

Pupil power was one of the central themes at an education conference which took place in Middlesbrough recently (Monday 1 July).

Ad Astra Academy Trust, which has ten primary schools under its umbrella across Teesside and County Durham, held its annual Festival of Education at Teesside University.

Over 350 teachers and educationalists attended the day-long event in Middlesbrough.

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “Our Annual Festival of Education presents an excellent opportunity to celebrate our successes and maximise the benefits of collaborative working.

“As a Trust we are continually looking at making things better and we focused on a number of themes at this year’s event.

“One of those involved pupils from each of our ten primary schools addressing the delegates and informing them of the things that they would like to see improve.

“Our Pupil Leadership team is a key voice, and it is important that we take their views on board.

“Another important theme at the event was Early Years provision to ensure that we are providing the best possible education for our youngest pupils.”

Speaking at the conference, Andy Brown said: “Despite the challenging circumstances across the world, I continue to have unwarranted optimism about the future of education in this country and the growth and direction of our Trust.”

He also took the opportunity to announce a new Staff Wellbeing Charter for the Trust and said: “The Wellbeing Charter demonstrates our commitment and dedication to support, improve and enhance the wellbeing of employees.

“Wellbeing should be interwoven into everything we do, with the understanding that happy employees perform better and live healthier lives.”

Keynote speakers at the event included Tom Sherrington, an experienced former headteacher who has worked in schools for over 30 years and Bruce Robertson, the Headteacher of Berwickshire High School and author of The Teaching Delusion trilogy.

There was also a passionate presentation from brothers Andy and Matt Smith who were abused as children and have since set up their own company called Smash Life to try and ensure that vulnerable children get the appropriate support to help them achieve in life.

The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon attended the conference and joined pupils in making a presentation to Chris Simmons, who is standing down as Chair of Ad Astra Academy Trust after holding the position since its inception in 2015.

Zarach Charity’s Beds for Heads also benefited from the event – a charity initiative to provide free beds for poverty-stricken families.

The event was chaired by BBC Radio Tees presenter Rachel Teate. It was opened by singers from Sunnyside Academy and closed by Middlesbrough musician Finn Forster.

The ten primary schools within Ad Astra are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees, Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough and Deaf Hill and Kelloe in County Durham.

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and over 500 employees.

 

Click on the link below to view the full Festival of Education programme

Ad Astra Programme 2024

Children from ten primary schools across Teesside and County Durham came together recently (7 June) to demonstrate their sporting talents.

Pupils from Ad Astra Academy Trust schools met up for the day-long sports event at Middlesbrough Sports Village where they competed in a range of events including running, long jump, hurdles and distance throwing.

Pete Wiley and Helen Durnion, School Improvement Leads with Ad Astra, helped co-ordinate the event.

Pete Wiley said: “We organise regular collaborative events for our schools and the sports event was a huge success.

“All of the pupils showed their determination to succeed. They gave their all and competed in a very respectful manner.

“One of our primary schools (Ayresome) hold their annual sports day at Middlesbrough Sports Village so we modelled their programme and it worked really well.

“Performing at such a notable regional sporting venue like Middlesbrough Sports Village can only help inspire our pupils to achieve high in their chosen sports.”

Around 150 youngsters aged between 7 and 11 took part in the event and they all received a medal.

A rosette was also awarded to a child from each school who was judged to best reflect the Ad Astra Academy Trust STARS (Support, Togetherness, Achieve, Respect, Success) values.

The ten schools under the umbrella of Ad Astra Academy Trust are Sunnyside and Ayresome in Middlesbrough, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees, Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool and Deaf Hill and Kelloe in County Durham.

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “This was a wonderful event, and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to its success.

“As a Trust we encourage our pupils to participate in sport and physical activity as part of our overall approach to promote healthy lifestyles.

“Events like this are also important because they provide an opportunity for our children to meet their counterparts from other schools.”

 

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and 525 employees in Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool.

Headteacher Paul Newton (left) is welcomed by Andy Brown OBE

 

Two Durham primary schools have joined one of the North-East’s most successful academy trusts.

Deaf Hill Primary School in Trimdon and Kelloe Primary School joined Ad Astra Academy Trust on 1 March 2024, bringing the total number of primary schools under its umbrella to ten.

Deaf Hill and Kelloe primary schools worked closely together previously as part of a primary federation and Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust is delighted to have them onboard.

He said: “I am delighted that we have expanded the Trust to incorporate Deaf Hill and Kelloe primary schools. Both schools have lots of qualities and they share the values of the Trust.

“It will enable us to enhance the excellent collaborative work across the Trust and embrace schools in Durham for the first time.”

Paul Newton, Headteacher of Deaf Hill and Kelloe Primary Federation said: “Our Federation is very excited to join Ad Astra Academy Trust. We are two successful schools in County Durham keen to embark on the next, exciting phase of school development.

“We are aware that Ad Astra is a Trust that is hugely supportive, while allowing schools to retain their individual characteristics that make them special – something which appeals to us greatly.

“We have chosen Ad Astra Academy Trust for many reasons. They live and breathe their ‘to the stars’ motto and it is clear that every Ad Astra school is committed to improving the experiences and standards of all children.

“We are also very excited to be part of a diverse and vibrant group of schools – to learn from their exceptional practice, but also to share our expertise and talents. Ad Astra embraces all of its schools – supporting and challenging when needed and we feel it is an organisation we will be proud to be part of.”

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley. With the two additional schools, it will provide education for over 3,500 pupils and 600 employees in Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees.

The other eight primary schools within Ad Astra Academy Trust are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool and Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees and Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough.

For further information about Ad Astra Academy Trust, visit www.adastraschools.org

Headteacher Paul Newton (left) is welcomed by Andy Brown OBE

 

Welcome to Kelloe Primary School’s website. We are proud to be part of AdAstra Academy Trust.