Children from eight primary school across Teesside came together this week (24 January) to demonstrate their creative art talents.

Pupils from Ad Astra Academy Trust schools met up at Sunnyside Academy in Coulby Newham for the day-long event where they made ceramic tiles from clay.

Prior to the event, pupils were tasked with designing their tiles to reflect the principles and values of individual Ad Astra schools.

Helen Craggs, Art Leader at Sunnyside Academy, who helped co-ordinate the event, said: “This is the first time that Ad Astra schools have collaborated on an event like this.

“Sunnyside Academy is the only school within Ad Astra to have its own kiln, so it is an ideal location.

“The event has given children the opportunity to demonstrate their creative talent and all of the ceramic tiles will be displayed at Ad Astra’s Festival of Education later this year.”

The eight schools under the umbrella of Ad Astra are Sunnyside and Ayresome in Middlesbrough, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees and Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool.

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, added: “Creative arts features strongly in all of our schools and is an important part of the curriculum.

“All of the children have fully embraced the event. The artwork is of an exceptional standard, and I am very proud of all the pupils who participated.”

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.

Issued by Alastair Rae, on behalf of Ad Astra Academy Trust. For further information, call 07581239557.

25 January 2024


Children at seven primary schools across Teesside are set to benefit from a new project after a £50,000 cash boost.

It follows a successful bid to SHINE, an education charity that works with schools and other organisations, to help disadvantaged children fulfil their true potential.

The schools, in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees, are all part of Ad Astra Academy Trust and the money will be used to improve speech and language skills of 3 and 4-year-olds.

Philippa Kermotschuk, Deputy Lead for School Improvement with Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “We are seeing an increasing number of children entering our schools with below average speech and language skills.

“We want to ensure that all of our children get off to the best possible start at school and this funding will help us to focus on the children who need additional support to bring their speech and language skills to the required level.”

The SHINE grant of £52,080 will be spent over a two-year period. It will involve various initiatives including the appointment of speech and language champions at each school and programmes for parents to help them support and encourage their children.

Dr Helen Rafferty, Interim Chief Executive Officer of SHINE, said: “SHINE is delighted to be working with the Ad Astra Academy Trust on this important and inspiring project.

“We know that the early years of a child’s educational journey are critically important in giving them the best possible chances in life, and that speech and communication is one of the most vital skills our children can develop.

“We are looking forward to seeing many more children in the region find their voice and thrive throughout their school years.”

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer for Ad Astra Academy Trust, commented: “We are delighted to receive financial support from SHINE and there’s no doubt it will help to raise standards and aspirations of our young children.”

It’s felt that the increased reliance on technology in recent years and a rise in poverty across our communities are the main contributory factors to young children lacking basic speech and language skills.

Leanne Todd, Headteacher of Rosebrook Primary School, added: “It is so important that children get off to a good start with their speech and acquisition of language as it enables them to succeed in all areas of the curriculum as well as to socialise and interact with others.

“The initiative will help our schools to identify issues at an early stage in a child’s development, meaning we can intervene sooner to enable all children to keep up or catch up.”

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

Issued by Alastair Rae on behalf of Ad Astra Academy Trust. For further information, contact Alastair on 0758 1239557.