I Am Looking For

Two Presentation Evenings in One

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This year’s Bolton School Girls’ Division Presentation Evening was a double celebration as GCSE and A level leavers from 2020 and 2021 received commendations, prizes and awards.

The first guest speaker for the evening was Dr Sheila Fisher, Vice-Chairman of Governors, herself an Old Girl of the School. She opened by saying: ‘It is a joy to be able to join you this evening as we finally come together again in this beautiful hall – a chance to celebrate together at last after a very difficult time.’

Referencing the pandemic, Dr Fisher offered her thanks to those who had led Bolton School through the difficult times. She told the girls that: ‘There has been so much commitment and determination to maintain the quality of education. Your teachers, and yourselves, have learned new skills. Some of these will make a lasting difference to the way we learn and work.’ She also thanked the School’s Estates Department, Sergeants, cleaning staff and catering staff, commenting on how everyone has pulled together and the school has shown itself at its best.

Dr Fisher focused on family life and friendships and spoke of the importance of supporting one another as we look to the future in hope. On behalf of the Governors, she paid tribute to Sue Hincks, who stepped down from her duties as Headmistress this summer. She praised her for, over the past ten years, having brought transformational change through her vision, energy and inspiration.

Looking to the future, she told how the governors will continue to ensure that pupils - girls and boys - can have the best education possible by supporting staff in their work and providing the facilities that are needed. This, she said, would be balanced against ‘continuing to aspire to Lord Leverhulme’s vision of a school able to educate as many girls and boys as we can, free of the constraints of parental or family income.’ It remains the aim of the School, she said, to strive to promote social mobility and opportunity for as many children as possible.

Dr Fisher welcomed Mrs Kyle to her new role as Headmistress for the year and told the girls that they were in safe hands. Having spent her entire career at Bolton School, Mrs Kyle has, Dr Fisher said, a deep insight and understanding of all that makes the Girls’ Division such an outstanding place.’

She concluded her speech by telling the pupils that this was a night to share joy ‘as we celebrate your time amongst us and your outstanding results.’ Her parting wish was for girls to ‘build on the foundation for life you have been given’ and for ‘every happiness and success in the years to come.’

Mrs Lynne Kyle then delivered a warm and humorous address in which she told the girls that: ‘You have worked hard, shown determination and resilience, and the staff and I are immensely proud of you. I have heard many reports from both teachers and parents saying how impressed they have been with the enormous efforts that have been put in to ensuring that the last two years were successful for you, and also by the enthusiasm and maturity with which you have approached your studies in somewhat difficult circumstances. Well done to you all.’

Mrs Kyle congratulated students on their superb academic results, recounting how 77% of the grades at GCSE were at 7-9 whilst 58% of grades were at 8-9 and how, at A level, 78% of the grades awarded were either A* or A, with 40% being at A*. She told how the vast majority of Y13 leavers will go on to study their chosen subject at their first choice university. Mrs Kyle also considered the wider curriculum, commenting on how students have a vast array of extra-curricular activities open to them. She told how, from sport to drama, from music to debating, from trips to educational lectures, from academic pursuits to creative endeavours, there really is something for everyone and that the activities are critical in the development of our pupils and in preparing them for the wider world. The Headmistress also praised her staff and reminded girls to say thank you to a member of staff who has had a particularly positive impact on you.

Mrs Kyle also paid tribute to Sue Hincks who, during her time as Headmistress, guided the school through a decade of unparalleled success, receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service and being named TES Independent School of the Year. Also during her time, the school achieved the highest possible outcomes when it was inspected.

The School’s great sense of community was referenced and Mrs Kyle said: ‘it is one of the things of which I am most proud - and I know I am not alone in being thrilled to see sports fixtures, live music, drama performances, clubs and societies and Assemblies happening again.’

The last two years have been difficult for exam students but the Headmistress also felt girls had missed other traditional Girls’ Division experiences such as the Gowning Ceremony, the Easter Extravaganza, the school song and school prayer, the Evolution of a Bolton School Girl assembly and the singing of Jerusalem at the final Year 13 Assembly. Tonight, she hoped, would compensate for some of those misses. The audience was left in fits of laughter as Mrs Kyle passed comment on the Y13s’ yearbook and on some notebooks from the 1970s, which included humorous recollections of previous Head Girls. She brought her address to a close with a thoughtful and comic poem that she had penned specially for the leavers.

This year's GSCE pupils and A level students from the classes of 2019-20 and 2020-21 then processed onto the stage to collect their awards and to be recognised for their outstanding academic achievements as well as for their EPQ results and Duke of Edinburgh endeavours. 

After the singing of the hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country, Lucy Stiles, who was Head Girl from 2019-20, recapped her time at the School, having initially joined the Nursery. She recalled the fun and learning she had enjoyed on school trips – with visits to Patterdale and Cambodia sticking in her mind. She also had great times performing in school productions and taking part in the Ceremony of Carols and her favourite memory of all, she said, was the Prefects’ Panto, where students gently satirise their teachers. Lucy is now studying Medicine at Kings College, London and she told of the importance to her of volunteering, telling how she had helped out at Bolton Hospice, at St Guy’s Hospital in London and more recently at a vaccination centre in Bolton. She told the girls that even though our time is a precious commodity, they should give back if they can. Before wishing everyone success and happiness, she had four points of wise advice for the leavers – believe in yourself and aim high, don’t be afraid to fail, put yourself out there and be prepared to try something new, and don’t rush and to try and enjoy yourself along the way.

Lucy then ceremoniously passed on the Head Girl’s gown to last year’s incumbent, Sarah Walker who took her turn in addressing the gathering. Sarah spoke of the long summer spent in limbo waiting to go to university and trying to write her speech! She said she realised that there were girls of different ages throughout the Hall but there were two things that everyone had in common – ‘the famous evolution of a Bolton School girl assembly’ and memories of a first day at school with bags that were too big and skirts that were too short. She offered her congratulations to all the leavers and then passed on the gown to this year’s Head Girl, Summer Kay. Summer also spoke of the importance of volunteering and offered her own best wishes and a Vote of Thanks to all the speakers.

The evening concluded with rousing renditions of Jerusalem and The School Song and by the audience taking refreshments in the Riley Sixth Form Centre.

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