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School Aims for Platinum Artsmark

Monday, 12 September 2016

With the start of a new school year, the Boys’ Division has launched a project with the aim of achieving the highest level of Artsmark Award. Over the course of the next two years, the School aims to increase its arts provision from Gold to Platinum standard.

Artsmark celebrates schools which champion the arts both in the curriculum and beyond, across the whole of the school community. The awards are also designed to give schools access to high quality, practical resources and networks.

The School already provides a diverse range of arts and cultural experiences for all pupils: a good range of arts qualifications are offered, students are able to create and evaluate works in a variety of media, and the boys’ creative output is showcased throughout the year in a busy calendar of events.

The School’s musicians take to the fore at Autumn, Spring and Summer Concerts, year group concerts, the annual Christmas Festival, and competitively through Young Musician of the Year and Battle of the Bands. The longstanding Community Music Programme is very active in the local community: the School shares facilities, instruments and expertise with local schools and young musicians. Pupils perform showcase pieces at local primary schools and other local events, such as the NUT Conference in Liverpool, the Bolton and Bury Business Awards Dinner, and the opening of the Christmas range at Manchester’s John Lewis branch. Music-lovers and pupils alike are also able to attend a series of Lunchtime Concerts which take place during the summer term each year.

Pupils enjoy a range of theatrical opportunities both in the classroom and as extra-curricular activities. In addition to the prospect of studying Drama at GCSE and Theatre Studies at A Level, each year pupils in Years 10 to 12 stage the Joint Production in conjunction with the Girls’ Division. Recent performances have included Doctor Faustus, The Sound of Music, Romeo and Juliet, and We Will Rock You. Year 7 and Year 8 pupils undertake Arts Awards at Explore and Bronze Level, and in recent years boys in Years 8 and 9 have also put on an annual Lower School Production alongside Girls’ Division pupils. Boys across the Lower School perform in a Drama Festival in May, a round-up of class and Drama Club activity across the year.

Involvement with drama gives pupils the opportunity to work with professionals from the Octagon Theatre and practitioners from Ludus Dance and Re:Bourne. As well as expanding their abilities on stage, pupils are involved with backstage tasks and have a hand in devising work for large scale theatrical productions, including original composition and music technology for theatre.

The Art Department also collaborates with drama productions to give pupils the chance to design programmes, posters and marketing campaigns. Additionally, students can produce artistic work for exhibitions to complement shows. Boys have been involved in site-based study, with GCSE students taking part in work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and are able to learn from working artists, for example in the recent print workshop with Neoartists Studios in Bolton. The Art Department has also facilitated several Pop Up exhibitions, including a secret postcard sale in which boys’ artwork was displayed and sold alongside pieces by photographers Aziz + Cucher from New York, UK illustrator Chris Arran, and painter Charlotte Caron from Paris.

As well as working on their own creative output, pupils are also given access to an extensive local, nation and international trips programme, including visits to art galleries, external theatrical and musical performances, museums and cultural landmarks.

Boys are also involved with the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award, which is run by Bolton School’s library staff. 250 pupils from 16 local schools joined Bolton School Boys’ and Girls’ Division students for the 2016 Awards Ceremony, and on the day also took part in workshops with the six nominated authors. School has enjoyed links with The Manchester Writing School and boys have benefited from a range of inventive creative writing programmes through a Writer in Residence Programme.

During the next two years, the School’s arts and cultural provision will continue and develop. There are plans to strengthen the School’s partnership with the Octagon Theatre, and embed and extend the Arts Award provision to include arts leadership opportunities.

Supporting student-led initiatives and creativity remains important. Enhancing the content and delivery of the pastoral curriculum through cultural and arts activity is another priority.

The School also aims to be recognised as a national leader in terms of the breadth and depth of arts and cultural involvement, partnership work and innovation. The School wishes to take a steering role in Bolton’s Local Cultural Educational Partnership (LCEP), one of fifty such enterprises supported by Arts Council England.  Work within the LCEP will help to enhance creative enterprise in the local area, and to establish the School’s standing as a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hub with connections to relevant organisations.

With the wide range of high-quality arts and cultural experiences available to boys already, and with a commitment in place to improve these as time goes on, the School is now looking forward to further developing into an institution worthy of the Platinum Artsmark Award.

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Doctor Faustus: the most recent of the School

Doctor Faustus: the most recent of the School's highly successful Jonit Productions

Musicians performing at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester to celebrate the School

Musicians performing at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester to celebrate the School's 100 and 500 year anniversaries

The Pop Up art exhibition featured postcards made by Boys

The Pop Up art exhibition featured postcards made by Boys' Division pupils and professional artists