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Boys’ School is Best in the Country

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Bolton School Boys’ Division has been recognised as Boys’ School of the Year in the Independent School Parent magazine’s inaugural national awards. 

Delighted Headmaster Mr Philip Britton said: “I am pleased that the award looks beyond our outstanding exam results and wide extra-curricular offer and also acknowledges our engagement with the local community and the volunteering work of our pupils. Also, that it recognises the importance of boys only education and that we do it well here at Bolton School. In my view there has never been a more important time to focus on the education of boys and to recognise that, as there are seismic shifts in the role of men in society, we need to respond to that sensitively and with purpose when the boys are at school. So far, while the attention has been quite rightly on girls and opportunity, it has been business as usual in too many schools for boys. Bringing them up in traditional ways for a very different future life simply won’t work.

“It is clear that as society very rightly adjusts to proper and embedded equality for women, the next point for attention must be how to raise boys to have an active part in that new world. As a leading boys’ school we can do that well for Bolton and we can also take a lead nationally.”

The School’s entry focused on exam success but also on how each boy is encouraged to develop life-skills and interests through participation in a wide range of activities. Beyond the classroom, academic activities included participation in MFL debating, Science CREST awards, the Chemquiz, Model United Nations events and a Classics reading competition. The School’s SPACE programme continued to promote wellbeing, introduced boys to community-based activities and inspired them through exposure to high-achieving former pupils and industry practitioners. In the submission, emphasis was placed on how, with over 100 extra-curricular clubs, every pupil discovers new interests and pursues talents. During the previous academic year, the Boys’ Division continued to dominate in water polo and won an unprecedented thirteenth consecutive national title spanning all competitive age groups. The School was U14s’ Greater Manchester badminton champions, the U13s’ football team made it to the semi-final of the national ISFA cup, there was regional table tennis success and the U15s’ rugby 7s’ team won locally.

Beyond sport, there was a Silver Certificate from the Incorporated Society of Musicians and extensive participation, both within School and further afield, at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Royal Festival Hall (as finalists in the National Choral Competition) and with other local school children at Bolton Victoria Hall, the Royal Northern College of Music and at Bolton’s Holocaust Memorial Service. In drama, the School collaborated with The Octagon and in-house theatre group RoughHouse as it works towards Platinum Artsmark status. Boys wrote their own play My Room, My Bolton and performed it during ‘museum takeovers’ at Port Sunlight and Manchester Art Gallery, and at the Bolton Station Community Gala. The previous summer, a student was the Secondary School Saatchi Gallery Art Prize winner.

Last year, Bolton School was delighted to win the TES Whole School Community Initiative of the Year. This was in respect of it being a founding member of the Bolton Sports Alliance, whose signature event is a Football Festival held at School which, this year, saw participation from over 50 local schools. Boys helped host events for local schoolchildren, which included a SHINE programme for Y5 pupils and the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award, and undertook environmental work; Sixth Form students committed over 5,000 hours of volunteering. All of Y9 undertook the Bronze DofE and dozens more completed Silver and Gold Awards. The previous year, Bolton School became the first school in the country to win the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 

The School annually hosts many public events, which recently included the RSC Christmas lecture, an Apple Conference (the Boys’ Division is an Apple Distinguished School), a Careers Fair, travelling theatre productions ‘Antigone’ and ‘Penguins’ and an English Civil War battle re-enactment. Nationally, it became the Northern SCITT hub school, as part of the DfE’s teacher recruitment drive.

The School also moved nearer to ‘open access’ with almost one in four Senior School pupils now receiving financial assistance. The Parents’ Association introduced “Teenage Journey” talks, which attract high profile speakers and offer expert advice on raising boys. 

The Girls’ Division of Bolton School won a Highly Commended accolade in the same awards and Bolton School (Boys’ Division and Girls’ Division) was named as Independent School of the Year.

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