Despite Covid-19, Bolton School has continued to play its part in the local community and beyond. Headmaster of the Boys’ Division, Mr Philip Britton, explains: ‘It is of such great importance that Bolton School plays a full part in its local community, as so many organisations in the town do. For us that involves collaboration with other senior school heads through the learning partnerships, work with primary schools across sport, music, drama and academic subjects and voluntary work across many organisations and settings. We feel we are very much part of the endeavour to make a success of the town for all, making connections and sharing expertise. To stand aside would simply be wrong.’
Towards the end of the academic year, the Boys’ Division received a certificate from the University of Manchester, acknowledging the School’s work with PGCE trainees. Despite national lockdowns and schools working remotely for long spells, the next generation of teachers still needed to be trained. The School supported this as an Initial Teacher Education Partner and as a School-Centred Initial Teacher Training Hub School. Three PGCE trainees from the University of Manchester and one from Manchester Met started their placements online - the task of mentoring trainees, initially remotely and then in a socially distanced school, demanded adaptability and flexibility.
Earlier in the academic year, on National Poetry Day, the award-winning poet Andrew McMillan, in conjunction with the Boys’ Division, launched a poetry competition for children aged 5-18 years across the borough. The Revisioning Poetry competition riffed on the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Vision’. The winning poets, commended writers and their teachers were invited to tour the new Manchester Poetry Library. The pupils also received book tokens; winners receiving a collection of poetry books for their school library. The young writers’ work was published in an anthology.
From 20 March to 8 May, 15 young people from across Bolton enjoyed a series of free Saturday morning workshops allowing them to deepen their participation in their local arts and culture scene. The pupils aged 14-19 developed their arts sector skills and created their own arts events from home and in their local neighbourhoods. The course focused on the participants and provided inspirational experiences and skills, opened conversations with artists and arts leaders and listened and provided a platform for young people, allowing them to create work and share messages that was important to them. The project was delivered by Bolton School in collaboration with Manchester International Festival (MIF) as part of Curious Minds’ SLiCE programme.
The School was delighted to once again host the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award, which is open to local pupils from both junior and senior schools. Bolton School’s library staff, who organise the Award, said: ‘It is unfortunate that this year we have not been able to meet the authors in person and celebrate together. However, we hope that the spirit of the Award has been present in our community of schools, offering children the opportunity to explore the work of authors that they may not have previously encountered.’
Six Y9 pupils set their sights further afield as they became involved in a social and cultural exchange with the Acle Academy in Norwich through a Salford based project called the Roots Programme. The aim was to connect people, issues and communities – deepening pupils’ understanding of themselves in relation to the lives of others, with a vision ‘of a more connected, compassionate and curious society, one built on dialogue rather than debate.' Miss Bramhall, a Chemistry Teacher who oversaw the scheme, said: ‘I particularly enjoyed listening to their conversations about their local areas and the honesty with which they discussed discrimination they might have encountered.’
Ordinarily Bolton School Girls’ Division hosts a number of Arts and Science enrichment lectures, which are open to local schools and the general public. This year the School improvised by introducing a series of virtual ‘Perspectives’ webinars, free to the public, which saw former pupils offer insight into a range of topics. Sally Anne Huang, High Master of St Paul’s School and a former Bolton School pupil, delivered the inaugural presentation. Her talk, entitled ‘Bossy Women’, focused on ambition and leadership from a female perspective. The next talk saw a panel comprising four Old Girls and a current parent consider the privileges and challenges of a career in journalism and the media. Another evening was spent in the company of five former pupils, who offered a fascinating glimpse into the world of fashion. The final seminar came from three Old Girls and considered careers in engineering.
At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, a small group of managers and owners of Early Years providers in Bolton, including Bolton School Nursery, formed an open discussion group. The aim was to help one another in any way they could. Since then, the group has gone from strength to strength: a number of additional providers have joined and the scope of discussions has widened far beyond those related to Covid-19.