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Caroline Plumb - CEO of Fresh Minds and youngest woman on Management Today's '35 under 35' list

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NCS Introduction for Year 11

Friday, 17 January 2014

Today the Year 11 girls walked down to Bolton Lads and Girls Club to learn more about NCS, or National Citizen Service. This is a scheme aimed at pupils aged 16 and up to encourage their self-development and citizenship skills.

Over the past four years, the school has built a strong relationship with Bolton Lads and Girls Club. The partnership has turned the school’s involvement with NCS from a small pilot scheme to a high-profile programme involving the whole of Year 11, across the Girls’ and Boys’ Divisions. This is the third year that NCS has been recommended to the whole year group. The trip to Bolton Lads and Girls Club is organised on a yearly basis in order to familiarise pupils with the facilities. Walking from school to the club also helps them to realise that it’s not that far away: barely twenty minutes on foot.

On arrival, the girls took part in a number of team-building exercises, including passing a banana between their feet and creating a ‘spider web’ out of string that was strong enough to carry one member of their team!

Afterwards, the girls were able to take part in a number of activities arranged by the Bolton Lads and Girls Club: cheerleading, exercising in the multi-gym, basketball, unihoc, football, table-tennis and pool. The girls seemed to have a great time throughout and hopefully will be interested in signing up to NCS this summer, as this is a fantastic opportunity for them to develop their own skills while giving something back to their local community.

If the girls decide to take part, they would have a full four weeks of amazing activities. They would be split into mixed groups, along with other schools in Bolton whose pupils are taking part; there would only be three or four Bolton School students in each group. This in itself is a great opportunity for the girls to mix with people from different lifestyles and backgrounds. Three groups at a time are sent for a week of residential outdoor pursuits and team building activities, either in Scotland, Wales, or at Patterdale Hall in the Lake District. Activities such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, rock climbing and abseiling encourage the participants to work together as a team and build their confidence.

After this, the groups are given a taste of university life with another residential week, this time at the University of Bolton. They live in halls and are expected to fend for themselves, with no assistance with their cooking, cleaning, or budget. This is a further chance for the teams to bond, and also to learn to live together as part of a diverse group.

The final two weeks of NCS see the groups plan and deliver a community project, which counts as 40 hours of volunteer work. Bolton Lads and Girls Club has an excellent network of contact within the community, with links to charities such as Oxfam, Guide Dogs UK, an Bolton at Home. Past activities have included fundraising, setting up a tent at a summer fair in support of Oxfam, and helping to regenerate an area or building.

The long-term aim of NCS is to engage young people with volunteering, show them that it is something fun, and that they can get a lot out of it.

Bolton School has a strong tradition of volunteering, with the Community Action scheme in place for Sixth Formers. Involving the Year 11s in NCS will hopefully foster an interest in giving back to their community and encourage them to continue to be involved as they grow older, both in the Sixth Form and beyond.

Year 11s from the Boys’ Division are scheduled to go down to Bolton Lads and Girls Club for a similar  session in March, with activities tailored towards their interests.

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The fast pace of Unihoc was popular with the girls

The fast pace of Unihoc was popular with the girls

Ping-pong and pool in the lounge had a more relaxed atmosphere

Ping-pong and pool in the lounge had a more relaxed atmosphere

Passing the banana: not an easy feat!

Passing the banana: not an easy feat!