Independent schools have to prove how they provide a public benefit if they wish to retain their charitable status. Schools must show that they offer bursaries or share their facilities with the local community and benefit people on low incomes, as per recommendations laid out in a consultation paper from the Charity Commission published in March 2007.
In July 2009, The Charity Commission published its long awaited assessment of the 'public benefit' of five independent schools, and as widely predicted, the emphasis on the need to provide means-tested bursaries was at the centre of the assessment criteria.
I am confident that we meet the requirements that the Commission is looking for. Currently 286 of our pupils receive bursaries, many of them receiving full fee assistance, indeed, across both senior schools, over 15% of our pupils come from families whose annual income is below the national average. Ever since the School was re-endowed by Lord Leverhulme in 1915, we have sought to offer an education for all able pupils, irrespective of their financial circumstances.
The School is also comfortable that it is able to demonstrate that its facilities and expertise benefit the local community. The sporting facilities are used for local and county-level clubs and activities in athletics, cricket, football, lacrosse, netball, rugby, tennis, swimming and water polo. We open up our facilities to local children in other schools through an annual Sports Festival for local primary schools and an annual Science Festival, hosted at the School; both events attract over 25 schools and hundreds of children. Equally popular is our annual football 5-a-side tournament for primary school boys and girls. We also host Bury FC's Football Academy, the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy and a summer camp Sportsweek. We are also delighted to have been chosen as one of only eight Football Focus schools in the country and we will offer our expertise and facilities in this area to local schoolchildren. Similarly, we have launched a water polo school of excellence.
In February 2010 we were delighted to celebrate the culmination of the first SHINE: Serious Fun on Saturdays project at Bolton School. Over 11 term-time Saturdays, 38 Year 5 pupils from local primary schools utilised our facilities and were given expert tuition in a host of subjects, ranging from the traditional to more unusual topics such as Japanese and Martial Arts. The School was only the second school outside London to run the programme, which is co-funded by ourselves and Shine.
The School offers expertise and shares best practice in many academic subjects; teachers and groups visit the local community and the School also hosts a variety of subject related events. There is an online Maths Challenge for Year 6 pupils and, new in 2009, is the Annual Modern Foreign Languages Festival, which will be open to local primary schools. Pupils will be able to sample taster courses in French, Russian, German, Spanish and Japanese, make use of the School's resources and receive expert tuition from experienced language teachers.
We have recently been engaging more with local community groups on a number of campaigns and hope to further open up our facilities to local residents.
The School also continues to undertake a huge amount of charity work - both in terms of time and money - at a local, national and international level. The web pages within this section of our site will give you a flavour of the benefits we offer.
Clerk & Treasurer