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Friday, 10 February 2017
Inspected in December 2016, Bolton School Boys' Division has been awarded the top rating of "excellent" by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. The new format report declared that the quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent and that the quality of the pupils' personal development is also excellent.
A delighted Headmaster, Mr Britton, reflected: “This is a truly outstanding report that identifies key strengths right across the curriculum. Our levels of academic attainment are noted – particularly in mathematics, literacy and communication - but the quality of our extra-curricular offer was also commended, along with the personal development of boys. There were many highlights but I was pleased to see the report reference how technology is now embedded in our learning and how our outdoor pursuits centre was praised for further developing boys’ character. The report recognises our aim to develop in each boy an inquisitiveness and compassion which will enable them to go out into the world and to make a difference.”
In a report heavy on superlatives, boys were found to have “outstanding attitudes to learning for their age” and to make rapid progress so that, by the end of Year 7, they are studying work ahead of the expectations for that age group. Inspectors reported that almost all pupils have highly positive attitudes to study for their age and “possess strong numeracy and outstanding communication skills.” It was noted that results at both GCSE and A level in recent years were above and on occasion well above the national average.
Boys’ mathematical ability was described as being advanced for their age in both senior and junior schools and it was noted that in 2016, pupils were awarded over 20 gold medals in national mathematics challenges at various ages. Pupils were praised for being highly articulate, imbued with the ability to explain clearly, reason logically and having a mature command of technical vocabulary. Senior school pupils’ listening skills were described as “acute” and reading skills were reported as being excellent throughout the school. Boys’ writing skills were described as “sophisticated for their age”. Pupils were also found to use advanced grammar with accuracy in both modern foreign and classical languages, and consequently many had been highly successful in external competitions.
Boys’ study skills were described as sophisticated and it was found that tablet use is so embedded in teaching that it is now a natural part of lessons and that pupils “display insightful and dextrous technological skills”. The inspection also noted that pupils “exemplify the less-appreciated virtues of concentration, focus and hard work”. Where comparisons can be made, the report found that “progress of pupils is more rapid than those of the same gender and ethnicity nationally”.
Pupils’ artistic skills were praised as being exceptional and rapidly developed, particularly in the junior school. Standards in music and the performing arts were complimented and note was made of many pupils learning musical instruments and taking part in school productions. Boys were reported as achieving at an exceptional standard in sport, with a recent leaver currently opening the batting for England and pupils representing GB in water polo and chess in their age groups. It was also noted that school teams are the United Kingdom water polo champions in three age groups. Inspectors found that “pupils exemplify without exception the school’s ethos of participation and excellence in sport”. In interview, pupils spoke enthusiastically about the range of sporting, musical and drama opportunities.
The school’s outdoor pursuits centre, Patterdale Hall, was described as “an ideal environment in which pupils can hone their character.” Activities there helped boys become “secure, confident and measured in assessing risk”. It was also reported that each pupil undertakes their Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.
Praise was accorded to teachers who employ devices to deliberately invite challenge and encourage pupils’ inquisitive approach and that this was rewarded with boys who enjoy academic sparring and mental challenge.
The school’s pastoral curriculum was lauded for guiding pupils’ strong personal development and the report found that “pupils have a strong, shared and well-understood moral code which transcends their different faiths”. Boys were found to be highly supportive of one another and to be determined, resilient, adaptable and loyal to their school. When interviewed, pupils expressed that the school is special and that they share a common goal of ensuring that it remains so.
Further praise was heaped on the school for its contribution to the local community, where it enjoys a distinguished record, with special mention of the Saturday morning SHINE programme.
The report concluded by asserting that by the time “pupils leave school they are adaptable, resilient and flexible. They are mature, emotionally and academically developed young men, with strong personal skills, and a self-confidence cloaked in modesty.”
The School also passed a compliance inspection, which records a simple pass or fail finding.
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