Head's "Outstanding Leadership" is Commended at Prizegiving
Thursday, 16 September 2010
In her first week back at Bolton School Girls' Division, Mrs Gill Richards, Headmistress, has announced that she will retire at the end of the Summer Term, 2011. This added an extra level of poignancy to this year's Sixth Form Presentation Evening.
Chairman of Governors, Mr Michael Griffiths, opened the evening and congratulated the School on another excellent year and a splendid Inspection Report. He paid tribute to Mrs Richards' outstanding and energetic leadership of the school. In a speech which spoke of the great all-round education on offer at Bolton School, he reflected that much of the success was built upon the mutual respect of pupils and staff. The girls work extremely hard and are supported by highly qualified and dedicated teachers. He complimented Mrs Richards on being "one of the outstanding Heads of her generation," and reflected on the many achievements during her tenure, including the building of a new Infant School and Junior Girls' School. He advised the departing students to go out into the world and to "try and make each place you visit a tiny bit better than when you arrived."
Mrs Richards opened her address by posing the question: 'What do the following have in common? A TV gardener, an opera singer who was a runner up in the Kiri Te Kanawa competition at the Proms this year, one of the top 35 businesswomen in the country under 35, a best-selling author, a prominent journalist, a University Chancellor, a BBC TV presenter, one of the most respected cancer surgeons in the country, the Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore, and the Chief Judge in the Shipman case? Of course, they are all Old Girls!"
This was an evening of celebration for the Girls' Division, where, once again, pupils had achieved excellent exam results at GCSE and A Level. Mrs Richards pointed out that although academic success is taken as given in the Girls' Division, these results do not come without a great deal of hard work by teachers and pupils. She stressed that at Bolton School a good education is not just about academic results but about so much more besides, a fact that was recognised in this year's exceptional Inspection Report, with six out of eight categories graded excellent, (the highest classification) and the other two good, (the 2nd highest). Pupils were also commended for their notable sporting achievements at county and national level as well as outstanding work in many other extra-curricular activities, including music, drama and work in the community.
Mrs Richards will retire from her role as Headmistress at the end of the Summer Term 2011 and described her time at the School as the happiest six years of her career, which spans 38 years as a teacher, the last 14 as a Head. She concluded by saying: "Wherever you are in the world, when you meet others who have shared the experience of Bolton School you will find the same values, principles, code of behaviour and moral standards. You will remember the ethos of the school and the attitudes that have made you what you are. You are all people who have fulfilled your academic potential, and within you there is a strong theme of care for others, of making a difference in the world. I always say to the girls, 'once a Bolton schoolgirl always a Bolton schoolgirl' and the same can be said across the Foundation. There is a very strong link that lasts throughout life.
I have been a steward for a short period of time in this great school's history. Long may it continue and long may its pupils, parents and staff sing the same 'tune', the values and ethos of this wonderful school."
This year's guest speaker at the awards was another high-achieving former student - Kathryn Knight, a former Head Girl and respected journalist whose 16 year career has seen her produce front page stories for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, travelling extensively to cover a diverse range of stories, including the sewer children in Mongolia, the sex trade in the Caribbean and Gambia, and the HIV crisis in Namibia. In 2008 she profiled the two 'first ladies in waiting' ahead of the American elections and has interviewed many celebrities and high profile figures in public life.
Having handed out the awards, Kathryn offered a witty and insightful reflection on her career and considered what advice she would give to her young teenage self. Her career had begun as a diarist in The Times and she delighted in having been called a "horrid little thing" by Joan Collins and being thrown out of a party for suggesting to a supermodel that she had put some weight on. Talking to her teenage self, she would tell herself to stop worrying about what other people think. Much too much time is fretted away in one's teenage and early twenties years worrying about things that could go wrong. The secret is not to stress out too much if things don't work as you originally plan. It is important to ignore the doom and gloom merchants and always aim to seize the opportunities that come along in life. The other important tip was to enjoy the view along the way. It is very easy to get so busy and wrapped up in yourself that you ignore the fact that you are actually having a good time. Her solid advice was well received by the Sixth Form girls, who went off into the night to celebrate, with the strains of The School Song still ringing in their ears.