In addition to sports teams and music groups, there are a wealth of subject-based clubs and more wide-ranging societies, such as the Library’s Book Club or the Chess Club which competes regularly against other schools. Pupils can hone their public speaking and debating skills at the Junior Literary and Debating Forum, for younger boys, and the Senior Literary and Debating Society, held jointly with the Girls’ Division for older students. The Boys’ Division frequently puts on drama performances, which include the Junior (Years 7 to 9) and Senior (Years 10 to 13) Joint Productions, where our boys act alongside their Girls’ Division counterparts. There are also a number of thriving Outdoor Pursuits clubs that allow pupils to further their adventurous interests.
Many boys participate in four or five activities every week. Our younger boys (Years 7 to 9) are encouraged to participate in at least three extra-curricular activities each week, and Years 10 and 11 should be involved in at least one weekly activity. In the Sixth Form, there are further opportunities for boys to become involved with running clubs and societies to develop their leadership qualities.
All boys are placed into one of four Houses when they arrive at Bolton School. As members of Blackburn, Chorley, Manchester and Wigan, they compete each year to win the Lyde Cup.
The competition takes place throughout the year on House Days every term and on Sports Day towards the end of the school year. Over 250 separate events contribute towards the standings, and these now range beyond the traditional inter-House sports fixtures to include House challenges in art, technology, debating, chess and a variety of other extra-curricular activities. As a result, every boy has the chance to get involved in competitive action on behalf of his House.
House Days offer boys further opportunities to work together with other year groups and develop vital teamwork skills. Captain and Vice-Captain roles within the House system also offer older boys leadership experience as they assist with organising activities, supervising teams, and leading the Charities Committee with younger House representatives.
More than 30 trophies are awarded through House competitions across three age bands: Juniors (Years 7 and 8), Intermediates (Years 9 and 10) and Seniors (Years 11 to 13). These are displayed in the cabinets outside the Great Hall with ribbons representing the House that currently holds the trophy: yellow for Blackburn, red for Chorley, green for Manchester, and blue for Wigan. Annual ‘Cups and Colours’ assemblies in the Summer term celebrate the boys’ House achievements.
The Lyde Cup is awarded each year on Sports Day to the House with the most points in total. This historic trophy was first presented in 1903 by the Headmaster and his wife on his departure to take up a university professorship.
The SPACE Programme
The SPACE Programme is about planned and embedded curriculum enrichment: making a literal space in the boys’ school lives for activities they may not otherwise undertake.
Every other week, the whole of the Boys’ Division is taken off the usual academic timetable on Monday afternoon. Instead, pupils and staff are scheduled to attend a wide range of different activities. These include developing community action projects, undertaking charity fundraising endeavours, enjoying trips and visits, finding careers inspiration from visiting speakers, and gaining broader skills that may not normally be covered in the classroom. Boys benefit in so many ways from the rich variety of SPACE sessions on offer to them.
The name SPACE also serves as an acronym for what these fortnightly sessions are all about:
- S – Social, Spiritual
- P – Physical, Personal, Practical
- A – Active, Aesthetic
- C – Community, Cultural, Careers
- E – Enterprise, Entrepreneurship
Outside of the main curriculum, the Music Department is full of opportunities. Alongside our classroom staff we have a group of twenty-three visiting instrumental and vocal specialists. We offer tuition in every brass band and orchestral instrument, as well as percussion, guitar, piano, organ and voice. We also have excellent links with visiting artists who regularly come to school to deliver workshops for our pupils.
There is a wide range of extra-curricular musical activities at Bolton School Boys' Division, some of which are run as joint ensembles with the Girls' Division. They include Tuned Percussion Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, String Ensemble, Intermediate and Senior Concert Bands, Orchestra, Lower School Choir, Jazz Band, Brass Group, Wind ensembles and Rock Groups.
Throughout the academic year, a wide range of performing opportunities are available and every choir and ensemble performs as part of a busy concert schedule. Large scale performances take place in school in our fantastic Great Hall with smaller, chamber concerts staged in the more intimate Arts Centre. We regularly perform outside of school at local venues such as the Victoria Hall in Bolton, Bolton Parish Church and the spectacular Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.
Participation in extra-curricular music is thriving and is an important outlet for a great many pupils. Hundreds of individual music lessons take place each week and we host both Trinity and ABRSM exam days regularly throughout the year. Year group concerts involve every pupil performing together and the annual Young Musician competition, open to all pupils across the school, is a highlight.
There is a strong tradition of sporting participation and excellence in the Boys’ Division. We pride ourselves on encouraging all of our young athletes, from elite athletes to complete novices.
Hundreds of boys from Years 7 to Year 13 play for school teams in weekly block fixtures, usually scheduled for Saturday mornings. Boys of all ages also compete in local, regional and national competitions, such as the ESSA (English Schools’ Swimming Association) Water Polo Championships, ISFA (Independent Schools’ Football Association) tournaments, the Greater Manchester Schools’ Football Cup, national T20 cricket, the Lancashire Cup and Plate rugby competitions, and the Bolton, Greater Manchester and North of England Athletics Championships.
Boys are encouraged to join sports training sessions before school, during lunchtimes or after school. Older boys may also make use of the School’s gym during their free time.
Regular tours offer our young sportsmen more opportunities to play against a diverse range of players and teams from around the world. We also organise friendly matches against prestigious teams such as, in cricket, the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) and XL Club.
Involvement with School Sport can continue after boys leave the Sixth Form through the Old Boltonians’ Football Club and Old Boltonians’ Rugby Club.
Extra-curricular sports available in the Boys’ Division include:
- Water Polo
There is a strong tradition of community service at Bolton School. In 2017, Bolton School won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of our longstanding dedication to volunteering and our efforts to encourage every pupil to give back to their community. We value the qualities that volunteering develops in our pupils.
Our boys recognise the importance of giving back through our Community Action Programme, and understand that the time they give makes a significant difference. They genuinely enjoy contributing to their communities, and gain so many benefits from doing so. Volunteers become more skilled, confident and employable whilst doing things they really care about. They also develop a broader perspective on the world as well as a deeper understanding of and compassion for others.
When boys are in Year 9, the whole year group takes part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award. Volunteering is one of the required sections, and requires girls to give one hour of their time per week for three months as a minimum. A large proportion of girls go on to complete the Silver Award (six months of volunteering) and some continue on to the Gold Award (12 months of volunteering).
At the end of Year 10, pupils are offered the chance to take part in National Citizenship Service (NCS) through Bolton Lads and Girls Club. This scheme aims to improve confidence, communication, teamwork and leadership skills while also encouraging young people to take a more active role in society. A key aspect of NCS is the Social Action Project, where teams plan and deliver voluntary work within their local community.
In the Sixth Form, students are encouraged to complete at least 20 hours of volunteering in Year 12. The majority of our students surpass this target, and Year 12 students regularly give an average of 10,000 hours per year: the equivalent of six years’ full-time work! Their efforts are celebrated and shared annually at the joint Community Action Celebration Evening, where students receive Bronze (20+ hours), Silver (50+ hours) and Gold (100+ hours) Awards in recognition of their commitment. Girls are also encouraged to log their hours with vInspired, the nation’s leading youth volunteering charity. Boys also have the opportunity to get involved with World Challenge and Operation Wallacea projects.
Charity Fundraising and Donations
Boys are involved in the school’s charitable efforts at all levels. As members of the Charities Committee, they help to decide which causes the school will raise money for and come up with ideas for fundraising activities. The pupil-led Lower, Middle and Upper School Councils are also involved in choosing charities to support.
All boys take part in the fundraising through whole-school and House activities. These include termly non-uniform days, the annual Poppy Appeal, donations at the Battle of the Bands, a Sixth Form Fancy Dress Fun Run, and a regular sponsored walk which takes place every few years.
The Charities Committee also organises one-off events and joint events with the Girls’ Division and Primary Division, as well as supporting and promoting boys’ individual fundraising efforts.