In 2011 Astor introduced a second specialism with the introduction of a military cadre. This specialism is in addition to the Arts specialism that was granted to Astor in 2002 in recognition of its strength in the visual arts.
The close partnership with The Duke of York's Royal Military School, a high achieving academy with a military tradition, means that part of our intake will have the opportunity to include a military background to their education. Enjoying the association with the Duke of York's RMS the military cadre will have a curriculum that has a very strong public service theme, leading to qualifications in public service and th Duke of Edinburgh's Award. They will have ceremonial uniforms (provided free) and will be part of the CCF.
The military cadre will initially start in Year 7, but there will be facilities for students in Years 8, 9 , 10, 11 and the sixth form to either join from other schools, or move across internally. In addition there is the opportunity for any student, regardless of ability, to join the military cadre. However, the more able students will be taught in accelerated top sets.
We take a pride in our Arts status. Consequently all students will have Fine Art, Textiles, Graphics and Ceramics lessons during their first three years with us. During Year 9 students have to select at least one Arts subject as a part of their option choices. At GCSE level we provide courses in Fine Art, Textiles, Ceramics and Graphics as well as an NCFE qualification in Animation that is worth two GCSE’s at grade C or above. These subjects are also available in the Sixth Form at A Level with the addition of Photography. There is also a regular life drawing class for students and staff, as well as students from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School.
Astor organises the annual National Students Art Exhibition under the patronage of the Royal Society of British Artists at the Mall Galleries in London. This is the ninth year of providing the only national showcase for the art work of students in English Secondary schools. Astor also exhibits at the John Downton Awards at County Hall, Maidstone, which is the Kent showcase for school visual arts. In this arena we have won the Schools prize a number of times as well as individual awards.
Astor has been awarded Artsmark Gold since its inception. This award, created by the Arts Council of Great Britain, is a rigorous assessment of the level of Arts Provision in an educational establishment. Our investment in the Arts has meant that what our children achieve here has been recognised year after year as outstanding.
Each year we take our work out into the community and put on an exhibition in the Stone Hall of Dover Town Hall. Since its inception in 1993 we have displayed the work of our A level students with all our creative disciplines on show. Students, parents, governors and staff are invited and the exhibition continues into our Speech Day the following evening.
In addition to the art and design related programmes we endeavour to enrich all levels and aspects of the curriculum by the use of visual literacy. All teachers are encouraged to be creative through displays in their learning environments and throughout the shared areas of the College. We believe that if young people engage with and enjoy what they see in all aspects of their lives, levels of achievement can be significantly raised. Personalised programmes for students are developed through negotiation with art and design staff.