Bolton School Boys' Senior and Junior Schools Celebrate Inspection Success
Boys' Division Junior Boys

The pupils and staff of Bolton School's Boys' Division and Junior School, Park Road, are celebrating after they received a glowing report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate's (ISI) inspection visit to the two schools in February 2024.

In their report, the inspectors assessed both schools as having met all five of the standards upon which they were judged, and identified their programmes of extra-curricular and outdoor learning activities as being a 'significant strength', a plaudit which recognises the school's national leadership in this area of education. 

The inspection was the first undertaken at the Foundation since the introduction in September 2023 of the ISI's new inspection framework. This framework replaced the inspectorate's previous methodology, of providing a one-word judgement of a school, with an evaluation of how successfully a school meets five specific standards, relating to leadership, management and governance; the quality of education, training and recreation; pupils' physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing; pupils' social and economic education and their contribution to society; and safeguarding. The new framework also now allows for a school to be designated as having a 'significant strength', to recognise those schools deemed to be demonstrating significant excellence within those five standards, in comparison with other schools nationally. 

During their three-day visit, the team of eight inspectors observed lessons, assemblies and extra-curricular activities; met with pupils, teachers, the schools' leadership teams and the Chair and other Governors; scrutinised samples of pupils' work; reviewed a range of policies and other documentation; and considered the views of pupils, staff and parents who had responded to their pre-inspection survey, in order to reach the conclusions which form the report. 

Key findings from the report included:

  • The schools' academic curricula and extra-curricular programmes instil a culture of high expectations, mutual support, inclusivity and tolerance within the school community;
  • The schools offer an extensive programme of extra-curricular and outdoor learning activities in which pupils of all ages participate enthusiastically and gain new interests and skills;
  • Pupils of all ages make good academic progress, develop creative and critical thinking skills and demonstrate determination and self-discipline;
  • Pupils' behaviour and attitudes to learning are respectful, focused and constructive, and there is a tangible culture of mutual support;
  • All school premises and accommodation are suitably maintained, well-resourced and secure; and
  • There are effective arrangements for safeguarding which promote the safety and welfare of pupils. 

Reflecting upon the inspection report, Head of Foundation Philip Britton, MBE commented:

"The ISI's new inspection framework aims 'to capture what is distinctive about a school's culture and ethos', and I am delighted with how successfully the inspectors have recognised all that makes both the Boys' Division and Park Road so special in this report. 

"The inspectors' description of the 'positive and supportive environment' provided by both schools, 'which allows pupils to grow in confidence and self-esteem', is a point of particular pride, as it reflects the significant impact our post-pandemic focus upon pupil well-being and behaviour has had on the lives and experiences of our pupils.  Equally pleasing is the inspectors' description of pupils' understanding that 'he school is an inclusive community [where] differences are accepted and diversity is celebrated', and the acknowledgement that provides of the warm and welcoming community we work hard to foster across the Bolton School Foundation. I am delighted to offer my congratulations and thanks to the leadership teams and colleagues of both schools, as they celebrate such a hugely successful outcome to the inspection." 

Head of Boys' Division, Nic Ford, noted:

"The inspectors' report is testament to the tremendous commitment of my colleagues and leadership team, and I am overjoyed that their efforts have been recognised with such fulsome praise. Their designation of our extra-curricular programme as being a 'significant strength' is of particular note, placing us in a highly select group of schools nationally who have achieved such a commendation, and more importantly, recognising the value this programme adds in our work to develop pupils' 'character and resilience', providing 'leadership and teamwork opportunities' which impact positively upon their 'attitudes and behaviour'.

"I am equally as delighted by the inspectors' recognition of my 'enthusiastic and knowledgeable' colleagues, whose 'effective teaching' promotes a 'positive attitude to learning amongst pupils, and a desire to succeed in their academic studies'.  As the report so rightly identifies, it is my colleagues' efforts which 'enables good progress for pupils' throughout their Boys' Division careers, and which ultimately leads to our pupils achieving GCSE and A level results that are above the national average on an annual basis.”       

Head of Primary Division and Head of Park Road, Sue Faulkner, added:

"I am exceptionally proud of my colleagues at Park Road, whose dedication and excellence the inspectors have described so meticulously in their report.  In particular, their description of the 'atmosphere of mutual respect' captures perfectly the 'calm and purposeful working environment' which makes Park Road such a special school.  I believe that a junior education at Park Road gives boys the strongest possible foundation to their senior school career, and I am therefore especially pleased by the inspectors' observation that pupils leave Park Road 'well prepared for their next stage of learning and … provided with the skills to succeed in later life'."

Chair of Governors, Ian Riley, concluded:

"I am incredibly pleased that the recent ISI inspection of the Boys' Division and Park Road has documented so positively the culture of high expectation and mutual support which exists at both schools, and which produces rounded, confident boys who are 'well prepared for life beyond school'. 

"The inspectors' description of the Boys' Division and Park Road as each being a 'positive and supportive environment which allows pupils to grow in confidence and self-esteem', within 'an atmosphere where intellect and high academic performance are promoted', summarises perfectly how both schools are achieving the Foundation's aim to develop self-confident young people equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes that will allow them to lead a happy and fulfilled life and to make a difference for good in the wider community.

"On behalf of the Governing Body, I would like to pay particular tribute to Philip Britton, MBE, Head of Foundation; Nic Ford, Head of Boys' Division; and Sue Faulkner, Head of Primary Division and Head of Park Road, whose exceptional leadership of the two schools has resulted in this outstanding inspection report and whose commitment is documented so clearly throughout." 

A full copy of the inspection report can be read here.

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