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School is Shortlisted for Three Awards

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Bolton School has been shortlisted in three categories in this year’s Independent School Parents’ School of the Year Awards. The School was shortlisted in the Social Mobility, Performing Arts and Outstanding New Initiative categories. 

Providing social mobility is inter-twined with Bolton School’s history and it was Lord Leverhulme’s vision to offer an education for all capable children when he re-endowed the School in 1915. Last summer, 42 pupils from the Class of 2020 left having received bursarial assistance for their education. Thirty eight went on to university, 32 of whom secured places on courses at prestigious Russell Group institutions. Nineteen went on to study subjects in the medical sciences, including 12 pupils now studying Medicine. During the same academic year, the School community made pledges and gifts totalling £672,000 to the Bursary Fund for the next intake of students. This enabled 54 Y7 pupils to join the two Senior Schools in September. Overall, the School spent £2.89m on means-tested bursaries, supporting 350 – one in five – girls and boys across the Senior Schools. One third of recipients – 6% of the pupil body – received fully-funded bursaries. 

Bolton School Girls’ Division Junior School was shortlisted in the Outstanding New Initiative category where the focus was on its Oracy Project. The tenets of the programme were embedded in the curriculum after Deputy Head Mrs Holt attended an ‘Oracy Leaders Programme’ and delivered her findings to staff through a series of INSET days. Using what is known as the Oracy Framework, which was developed by Voice 21 and the University of Cambridge, subject teachers worked hard to ensure that oracy attained the same status as numeracy and literacy in the classroom. In each subject, teachers prioritised the development of key skills which included social and emotional capabilities, including working collaboratively, speaking confidently and being aware of an audience as well as physical skills, such as using the voice and body language to convey meaning, and linguistic skills including developing vocabulary and language. Cognitive skills such as clarifying, summarising and reasoning were also developed. 

Junior Girls' Headteacher Mrs Laverick explained: ‘The research showing that oracy impacts positively on academic outcomes, on cognitive development and on promoting a sense of well-being underlined the importance of developing communication skills and strategies for 21st century learning. iPads, already an essential part of our teaching and learning, became a tool to further enhance oracy skills. Acknowledging that in typical lessons, the teacher does much of the talking, we created a culture of talk across every subject and an environment in which pupils could clearly express their thoughts and effectively communicate their ideas.’ 

The Boys’ Division Senior School was also shortlisted in the Performing Arts category. In 2018, it was awarded Artsmark Platinum status for its arts and culture curricular, extra-curricular provision and community work. The Arts Council award recognised the excellence of the range of creative learning opportunities, the School’s dedication to student-led projects, its outstanding creative partnership programmes and position as a regional advocate and steer for arts curriculum. The School is now in its second phase of Artsmark development. Baseline provision is drawn together in a Cultural Learning Programme that is blended with pastoral, enrichment, curricular and community areas of school life. Boys weave together interests across different strands of the curriculum, existing hobbies and ECA commitments, echoing the school’s ethos of ‘education all round’. 145 boys completed their Arts Award projects in 2019/2020, despite the challenges of remote learning. 

Y12 boys participate in the RSA Design Awards and are currently engaged in socially-applied projects exploring responses to systemic racism, design of learning environments and quality digital provision for all. They have benefitted from the expertise of alums Robin Partington (architect) and Anthony Lilley (creative industry guru), as well as input from curator Stephen Welsh (International Museum of Slavery, Manchester Museum) and Ibrahim Mahama (artist and founder of the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Ghana). Alumni input is used to support pupils who aspire to creative arts careers. Old Boys frequently return not just to speak to pupils, but to offer masterclasses and mentoring. Recently, Ralf Little worked with drama students; boys have also worked with Andy Patterson (film producer), Brian Appleyard (journalist and author), Barney Pilling (film producer), Mark Radcliffe (broadcaster) and Jonny Ashton (TV documentarian). In 2019 alumnus Sir Ian McKellen returned to school with his 80th birthday tour. The school hosted Sir Ian’s surprise 80th birthday celebrations too. Current pupils and alums reprised pieces from the actor’s schoolboy roles and received a standing ovation from an audience that included Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi. 

Large scale productions, exhibitions and competitions are a staple of school life. Partnership projects to enhance School’s offer, as schools together initiatives and to steer local, regional and national cultural education policy are also at the forefront of concerns. 

This year there was over 1,000 entries for the Independent School Awards. The finalists will be announced in early September. 

Three years ago, in the same awards, the School was its inaugural winner in the Independent School of the Year Award category, the Boys’ Division was the Independent Boys’ School of the Year and the Girls’ Division was highly commended in the Independent Girls’ School of the Year category. In February 2019, the School won the TES’ Independent School of the Year award and in 2017, the School won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

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