Six Life Lessons from Presentation Evening Speaker
Girls' Division Sixth Form Girls

Bolton School girls were given six life lessons at this year’s Presentation Evening by guest speaker and former pupil Shweta Sharma. Shweta, who left the Girls’ Division in 2001 with A levels in Business Studies, Chemistry and Biology, delivered her advice while reflecting on her career driving growth and transition in the technology, entertainment and media sectors.

Shweta began by saying that it was a great honour to give the address. She told how her time at the University of Manchester studying for a BSc in Management had informed her first life lesson – be prepared to take yourself out of your comfort zone and to say yes to exciting opportunities.

Upon graduating, her travel plans did not work out but she revealed how she had then secured a strategy consulting role at Deloitte, where she worked for five years and learnt skills that she still uses today. This taught her life lesson two, that set-backs are inevitable in life but they are not insurmountable.

Deciding she wanted more 'hands on' jobs, she told how she went on to pioneer Microsoft’s Xbox entertainment business across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and lead on digital games distribution for Disney across the same region. When taking the strategy role at Disney, she asked herself whether she could actually do the job? This taught her life lesson three - when overwhelmed, remember, there’s always room to learn. Shweta also recommended finding and using mentors if at all possible.

Lesson four, she said, was to seize opportunities and to not necessarily wait until you are fully prepared. Lesson five was to challenge the status quo and to remember to pivot when necessary – it is not always essential to have a defined plan, she said. Shweta’s lesson six was to dive deep into what you are passionate about and to contribute to that space. She also offered some words of wisdom that she had collected from other former pupils before telling girls that your journey will not be anything like you think it is going to be! She told the audience to not fear change and that, in time, your path to impact will become clear.

Shweta now has a portfolio career including a number of non-executive, trustee and advisor roles. She is a Board Trustee for the Youth Sports Trust, a leading children’s charity and is a mentor for the Sixth Form Entrepreneurship Scheme at Bolton School.

Head of Girls’ Division Mrs Kyle said the evening was not just about individual achievements but, also about recognising the collective spirit, dedication and excellence that is the hallmark of Bolton School. She recalled how it had been a busy academic year and the first normal school year for some time. Mrs Kyle said she was very proud of the report from the recent ISI Inspection of the Girls’ Division and Junior Girls’ School and was delighted that the quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements and personal development were both regarded as being excellent. She said that the report could not have been any more positive. Another highlight for her, was that social development was singled out and that the School had been praised for its emphasis on community and a deep commitment to service.

The Head told how the Girls’ Division had recently celebrated excellent A level and GCSE results and that pupil numbers were almost 100 higher than they had been pre-pandemic. Across extra-curricular activities, she said there were too many successes to mention but praised the quality of dramatic and musical productions, including the outstanding concert in The Bridgewater Hall back in March. In sport, she told how the Girls’ Division had become U18 Northern Lacrosse champions, U14 GSA national netball winners and how, at water polo, the U15s and U18s’ teams had become national champions and the U13s silver medallists, losing their final by a single goal. She also told how the U13 badminton team had been Greater Manchester champions. Mrs Kyle praised the large number of girls who had completed their Silver and Gold DofEs, the school’s community action programme which had seen Sixth Form girls give over 7000 hours of their time to volunteering and pupils' charity endeavours, raising more than £22,000 over the academic year.

Mrs Kyle reserved special thanks to the ‘support systems’ – thanking the pupils’ teachers and family and friends and also the Governing Body, the Parents’ Association, the Friends of Bolton School and the Old Girls’ Association. She took considerable pleasure in reading amusing excerpts from the girls’ Year 13 leavers’ handbook, which showed the students’ great affection for one another. She finished by thanking students for their sense of community, collaboration and camaraderie and telling them ‘here’s to the future success that awaits you’.

Mrs Amanda Valentine, the Vice Chair of Governors representing the Girls’ Division and Philip Britton, Head of Foundation, also spoke on the night. They too thanked the support teams behind the students and commended the girls on taking advantage of all that had been offered to them. They both felt that the glowing ISI Inspection report was due recognition of Mrs Kyle’s leadership and both helped with midstream, GCSE and A level presentations as well as the awarding of a number of special prizes. Addressing the pupils, Mr Britton closed proceedings by saying ‘The success of the school is your success’.

There was a Vote of Thanks on the evening from new Head Girl, Phoebe Chuck and the singing of the hymns Jerusalem and I vow to thee, my country as well as an impressive piano recital by Cynthia Cheung of Chopin's Nocturne in E. Opus 62 No. 2.

You can watch the whole of the Girls' Division Presentation Evening through this link.

View a gallery of photos from the event here:

Bolton School Girls' Division Presentation Evening 2023

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