The aim of the society is to provide an enriching forum for 15 or so strongly academic boys in each of Years 7, 8 and 9 (there is a different group for each year) to discuss and debate issues with the Headmaster.
Meetings of the society take place once each half term and they focus on discussing a book which all participants have read. Between meetings the participants are required to give their views on a range of issues via iTunes U. The meetings seek to focus the ongoing discussion and then to introduce a new book for the next half term. Members are encouraged to suggest books to read, which span all disciplines.
Participation in the society is by invitation only. In Year 7 initially the group is composed of those who have won academic awards in the entrance exam. Later, the group composition reflects MidYIS scores. In Years 8 and 9, a list is compiled, using the MidYIS scores and the Gifted and Talented register as a guide.
Accepting an invitation to join the society involves:
- Compulsory attendance at all meetings, which are held in the Headmaster’s study
- A commitment to read the book each half term
- A commitment to contribute answers and comments to the blog in response to other contributions and especially in response to four or five issues for discussion the Headmaster poses for each book.
The society takes its name from the Ainsworths of Smithills, who are one of the oldest Bolton families. Robert Ainsworth, who attended Bolton School, was born in 1660 and made a successful career in running schools in London. In 1736, after 22 years work, he published the most significant Latin dictionary of its time, the Ainsworth Latin dictionary. This remained the standard Latin dictionary into Victorian times and the school still has a copy of this book, with his inscription, in its collection housed in the Chained Library. Robert Ainsworth is without doubt one of the school’s most distinguished early scholars.