Prestigious Artsmark Award for Bolton School Girls’ Division
Girls' Division Arts

Pupils and staff in the Junior and Senior Girls’ Schools at Bolton School are celebrating after receiving a prestigious Platinum Artsmark Award. It is the highest accolade afforded by Arts Council England, and the definitive creative quality standard for schools. The body is charged with supporting schools to develop and celebrate arts and cultural education across the curriculum, bringing learning to life for children and young people.

Assessors commended the School for taking a strongly strategic approach to the Arts. Beyond the core offerings of Design Technology (including Textiles), Art, Music and Theatre, the School hosts a regular Culture Festival and has a governor who oversees arts provision, along with senior leaders and a Director of Creative Learning. The School was praised for its active role in the Local Cultural Educational Partnership and for helping shape the local arts strategy. Special mention was made of the efforts the school makes in consulting with young people in the delivery of strategy, including partnering with NW Youth-Zones and Creatives Now. Much of its work in boosting children’s cultural capital has been in areas receiving free school meals, using BeeWell data to shape activities to meet children’s needs.

On receipt of the award, Lynne Kyle, Head of the Girls’ Division said: ‘We are very proud of achieving a Platinum Artsmark Award. This is a thriving area of school life, with pupils benefiting greatly from the huge range of activities we offer. All pupils participate in public concerts, including events at the Bridgewater Hall. In addition to traditional musical theatre opportunities, the opportunities available to pupils have included the ESU Performing Shakespeare Competition, our Festival of Culture and outdoor theatre productions - which have involved 1600 school and community participants over the last two years - plus a musical for the younger years alongside the mainstays of Senior theatre and musical theatre, to give a few examples. Many pupils take private music lessons, with dance and acting certificates added to this range and outside school, our youth-led social arts initiative has, in the last couple of years, involved over 350 participants, 15 projects and 18 cross-sector partnerships.

‘We are very much committed to delivering a high-quality arts and cultural education and we look forward to continuing to grow with Artsmark.’

Dr Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said: ‘I would like to congratulate Bolton School on their Artsmark Award. Becoming an Artsmark school demonstrates that through offering a broad, ambitious and creative curriculum, young people have the opportunity to develop character and resilience, increasing their knowledge, curiosity and skills that will remain with them through to adult life.’

Helen Holt, Deputy Head of the Junior Girls’ School, said: ‘As a school, we engaged in a two-year creative thinking action research project, guided by Rethinking Assessment, University of Winchester, and ACER, and this involved junior and senior school colleagues collaborating across leadership and classroom roles. Pupil-led gallery reviews showcase creative thinking projects, demonstrating metacognitive progression through multi-modal outcomes in science and literacy. The Senior school has also adopted creative thinking pedagogies across the curriculum and the scope of this work continues to evolve.

‘Last year the ISI 2023 Inspectorate noted, “from a young age, pupils' study skills develop rapidly, supported in the junior school by an identified set of 'creative habits” which provide a framework of learner attributes. Professor of Learning Bill Lucas, who visited us recently, praised the project work of our Year 6 girls as “a great blend of creative and sustainable thinking”.’

Bolton School’s Director of Creative Learning, Naomi Lord, is a steering member of Bolton Cultural Education Partnership and Bolton Cultural Leaders Group. She has worked on school cultural education consultations and the town’s cultural strategy. She is a director of Creatives Now which is listed as a cultural asset in the strategy and has positioned this project to be central to the development of the town’s youth culture offer as well as a vehicle for schools to engage in CPD and projects with local cultural impact. She is a Specialist Leader of Cultural Education with Curious Minds, a Royal Opera House Leader’s for Impact alum and a member of the Greater Manchester Youth Creative Health working group and Bolton Youth Participation Forum. She contributes variously to local, regional and national cultural programmes for children and young people.

The Boys’ Division at Bolton School also holds the Platinum Artsmark Award.

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