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Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Dr Elizabeth Sidwell CBE, the Schools’ Commissioner who is charged with raising standards and leading the expansion of the Government’s academy schools programme, has visited Bolton School after receiving an invitation from the Headmaster of the Boys’ Division, Mr Philip Britton. Mr Britton, having met Dr Sidwell at a number of conferences, decided to offer her a personal invite in order that she could learn firsthand about the many ways that the School engages with local schools.
Some independent schools have chosen to sponsor a local academy but Bolton School has pursued a policy of engaging with as many different schools in the area in as many different ways as possible.
Mr Britton said “Strong independent schools like Bolton will find local solutions to the educational issues in their local area and will see themselves playing a key role in that.
We aim to work in partnerships to raise educational aspirations in Bolton. The focus is on coordinated, sustainable and significant local engagement that makes a difference.” He continued: “It is our belief that by interacting with all and not specifically with one school, more young children in Bolton and the surrounding region can benefit from our facilities and expertise. If we were to focus all our efforts on one school then many others would miss out on what we offer. For instance, our teachers and students offer a wide range of short courses every Saturday morning to bright but often disadvantaged local children from a number of primary schools through the SHINE programme. Likewise, we work with local schools on science and music projects, sports partnerships, mentoring programmes and many other activities.”
Pupils and staff at Bolton School were joined by teachers and children from a number of local schools to give a series of short presentations demonstrating the wide range of local partnerships. Three pupils from nearby Devonshire Road Primary School talked about how they have benefitted from using the School’s swimming pool and how in the last two years they have been able to hold Sports Days on Bolton School’s grounds. Mr Parkinson, a teacher at Ladybridge School, thanked Bolton School Sixth Form girls for their mentoring of Year 7 Science pupils. Children from Pikes Lane recounted how they have enjoyed recent Primary Liaison events and the SHINE programme where they have had the opportunity to study subjects they would not normally have access to, including Classics and Russian.
Dr Sidwell then moved on to the nearby ESSA Academy, accompanied by Mr Britton and Mr Brendan Ickringill, who is the local area’s Ogden Physics Teaching Fellow and who is based at Bolton School. There they learnt how the Ogden Physics Fellow, through the Institute of Physics Stimulating Physics Project training, is working with teaching colleagues to help raise standards for students. The programme, funded nationally by the Department for Education, aims to make a lasting difference to participation in physics through working with teachers, to produce the skills the future economy will need.
Bolton School has also been learning from the academy about its transition to a paperless school where all pupils have iPads and the two way partnership between these different types of school has proved very productive.
Dr Sidwell, the former chief executive of the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation, a cluster of academies in south-east London, was appointed by Secretary of State for Education, Mr Michael Gove; the position of Schools’ Commissioner having been created by Tony Blair in 2006.
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