Our clubs and societies seek to enrich the girls’ time at school, develop their interests and skills both within and beyond the curriculum, and offer opportunities to build friendships across the year groups. There is of course lots of fun to be had, too, through drama, music, sports, book clubs, art, outdoor pursuits and much, much more.
Older students, particularly those in the Sixth Form, often take on leadership and mentoring roles, which help them to cultivate their portfolio of skills. This is especially valuable for university, apprenticeship and job applications. Involvement in our vast array of clubs and societies can help to show admissions departments and employers that Bolton School girls are well-rounded and interesting individuals.
Extra-curricular activities run both at lunchtime and after school, with sports fixtures, outdoor learning activities and rehearsals also taking place on some weekends. Clubs and societies can offer opportunities to travel both within the UK and abroad.
Art Club offers girls plenty of opportunities to get creative, no matter what their level of ability. There is always a range of projects to complete, which may include drawing, painting or three-dimensional work.
All year groups are encouraged to enter ‘The Big Draw’ competition, where simple themes are set as a starting point for creative work. This is part of the national ‘Big Draw’ event, which is designed to encourage participation in drawing, and many girls enjoy taking part. Pupils are inspired to enter more art competitions and to attend gallery workshops and exhibitions locally and nationally.
For GCSE groups there are opportunities to take part in art workshops, both at artists’ studios and in school. Places are limited, but these workshops are a chance for artists to further develop their skills and improve their portfolios.
Drama and Public Speaking
There are ample opportunities for girls to develop their confidence as well as their public speaking and performance skills through theatrical and debating activities.
The Girls’ Division puts on a drama performance each term: Middle School (Years 7 to 9) pupils take to the stage in the autumn and summer, while girls in the Upper School (Years 10 to 13) tread the boards in spring. The Years 7-9 and Years 10-13 Joint Productions with the Boys’ Division offer further opportunities for girls to get involved.
As well as forming the cast for these productions, pupils are also involved backstage with lighting and sound, set design and set dressing, costume and makeup, and set changes. Girls also take on front of house duties, handling ticket sales, ushering and interval refreshments.
External theatre companies regularly visit to work with our pupils, and our partnership with Bolton’s Octagon Theatre has led to innovative productions in recent years.
Lunchtime clubs led by Sixth Form students run throughout the year for girls in Years 7 to 9, and after-school drama workshops for Year 10 allow them to develop GCSE drama skills. We also run short courses in Lighting, Sound and Makeup.
In Years 8 and 9, pupils are invited to ‘Junior Speak Out Listen In’, where they receive expert public speaking coaching from experienced staff. A select number of students go on to represent the Girls’ Division at the Churchill Public Speaking Competition organised by the ESU (English-Speaking Union). Girls also take part in the ESU’s Performing Shakespeare competition, where they perform and speak about an extract from one of his plays. Older students in Years 10 to 13 may be selected to compete in the ESU’s Schools’ Mace, the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in England. The Girls’ Division is an ESU Oracy Affiliate School thanks to involvement in these activities. Girls can also work towards recognised public speaking qualifications through ESB (English Speaking Board) examinations.
The Junior Literary and Debating Society (girls in Years 7 to 9) and Joint Literary and Debating Society (students in Years 10 to 13 from the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions) offer pupils opportunities to discuss current affairs, debate challenging topics and hone their public speaking, presentation and critical thinking skills.
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.
Extra-curricular groups provide an ensemble for every age and ability level. Joint Orchestra, Intermediate and Senior Concert Bands, Jazz Band, Guitar, String and Percussion ensembles, Flute Ensembles, Clarinet and Saxophone groups, Senior Choir, Lower School Choir, Chamber Choir and a close harmony a cappella group.
A number of these choirs and ensembles perform jointly with the Boys' Division, on a regular basis, in major concerts and events throughout the year.
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 and recitals 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 Music Festival, open to all pupils across the school, is a highlight.
Pupils can participate in a range of competitive and recreational sporting activities. Most girls have the opportunity to try out every activity that we run during their time at Bolton School, should they wish.
Girls’ Division sports teams regularly take part in competitions at varying levels locally, regionally and nationally. Our young sportswomen are regularly selected for regional and national squads and academies for Lacrosse, Netball and Water Polo.
In addition, there are sports clubs open to all abilities, which allow girls to develop their skills in a more relaxed setting.
Sports available in the Girls’ Division include:
- Cross Country
- 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. It is part of our ethos that ‘much is required of those to whom much is given’ and we value the qualities that volunteering develops in our pupils.
Our girls 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 girls 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).
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. Girls also have the opportunity to get involved with World Challenge and Operation Wallacea projects.
Charity Fundraising and Donations
Girls’ Division pupils regularly take part in fundraising and donation efforts: from whole school non-uniform days to forms holding sweet sales at break and lunchtime, our girls are enthusiastic to get involved with raising money for those less fortunate than themselves.
The Girls’ Division supports a variety of charities, working locally, nationally and internationally. These are often suggested by the girls themselves, which helps them to be even more invested in our collective efforts.
The School’s Harvest collection in the Autumn term helps to support Urban Outreach, a local charity which helps those in need in Bolton. In addition, for over a decade Bolton School has been helping to fill Urban Outreach’s Christmas Hampers by collecting and donating hundreds of festive items each year. The end of the Autumn term also sees fundraising through two much-loved traditions in the Girls’ Division: Year 10 compete to see which form can raise the most money with the Christmas Post, and the whole school donates to watch the Prefects’ Panto. We also take part in national fundraising campaigns such as Red Nose Day, Children In Need and Macmillan Coffee Mornings.
Our Perspectives Lectures are a series of free, public lectures hosted by the Girls’ Division, currently taking place virtually. These are free to attend and suitable for pupils in Year 9 and above, parents, alumni, and all other members of the School and local community. They feature information about a range of interesting career branches from Bolton School alumni, who share their expertise about their particular field.
The Perspectives Lectures were preceded by a series of public Arts & Sciences Enrichment Lectures, which invited notable speakers from a wide variety of fields to speak in the Girls’ Division.