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Bursary Helps Deliver Footballing Dream

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Last week, when Joel Burgess of Bolton School Boys’ Division received his outstanding GCSE results – seven 9s, three 8s and a 7 - it brought to an end a hugely successful five years at the independent day school. Joel had received a bursary throughout his time at Bolton School and both he and his mum were highly appreciative of this. Days before his results he had made his first team debut for Bolton Wanderers aged just sixteen, having put pen to paper earlier in the year when he signed scholarship forms with the club.  His mum reflected: ‘Joel’s scholarship requires him to complete a BTEC alongside A Levels and therefore he won’t be able to continue his education at Bolton School. He is extremely fortunate to have received such an outstanding education and we are very grateful to the School for their support over the past five years. He has a strong foundation now on which he can build, especially if he should not be successful in pursuing his dream of becoming a professional footballer.  

‘I would like to thank the School so much for providing the opportunity for him to experience five years of an outstanding, all-encompassing, education. Joel was a member of the Ainsworth Academic Society, which met half-termly to discuss and debate issues. He received countless commendations every year for his academic effort and several personal emails from Heads of Year acknowledging his hard work and academic success. His average grade effort increased year on year. 

‘Joel has always performed as an elite athlete and the Boys’ Division supported him in this from day one. He represented the school in basketball, athletics, table tennis and football. He is also a National Champion in Futsal. 

‘During his time at Bolton School, Joel trialled for ISFA and was successful in gaining a place on the ISFA North-West team, which, in turn, led to a tournament and successful trial for ISFA England. He captained the team on several occasions around the country and even played at St George’s Park! 

‘The School put Joel’s name forward for Bolton’s Town Team and he went on to represent them on many occasions. He also trialled for the Greater Manchester County Team which he subsequently captained and led to Cup victory. 

‘Joel thoroughly enjoyed playing with the school football team and made some solid friendships with his team mates; they had several successes over the five years which also involved travel around the country. 

‘When Joel first joined the School, he was on trial at Bury FC where he was awarded academy membership in Y7. He progressed rapidly there but unfortunately the club folded when he was about to start his GCSE studies. Due to his success at Bury and county level, his ability was recognised and he signed at Blackburn Rovers, which required him to train one full day and two evenings a week and play games whilst balancing his studies. When he was not offered a scholarship at Blackburn, he showed real resilience and trialled at several clubs before deciding to accept a scholarship at his beloved Bolton Wanderers. 

‘Joel is a determined young man and playing for Wanderers has always been his dream. On Tuesday 27th July, he was selected as a substitute for the first team cup match against Chorley FC and he came on! It really was a dream come true! 

‘I would like to thank Bolton School for helping and supporting Joel, we cannot thank them enough and I genuinely mean that. I know he will build on the solid foundations he has, he is such a driven, self-motivated person. I hope the School is also proud of everything he has achieved.’ 

Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the School, Laura Firth, said: 'Our sector-leading bursary programme - and the social mobility it delivers - would not be possible without the generosity of the School community, who donated £672k to the Bursary Fund in the 2019-20 academic year.   

'In order to demonstrate the transformational impact of their donations, we are always delighted to be able to link significant supporters of the Bursary Fund to specific bursary recipients. Throughout his time in the Boys’ Division, Joel was linked with Taylor & Taylor Financial Planning, a family-run business owned by Old Boy father and son, Chris and Ross Taylor. Chris and Ross have been supporters of the Bursary Fund since 2015, and have been delighted to follow Joel’s progress during his time in the Boys’ Division.  They share the School’s pride in all that Joel has achieved, and hope to be able to watch him play for Wanderers in the near future.'

During the last academic year, Bolton School spent £2.89m on bursaries, supporting 350 pupils - 1 in 5 – across the two Senior Schools, with one third, or 6% of the student body, receiving full fee remission. 

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