18 September 2018
Leavers from Bolton School Girls’ Division were sent out into the world with words of inspiration from former pupil the Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, the recently consecrated Bishop of Lancaster. As guest speaker at the Sixth Form Presentation Evening, she recalled her own days in the Girls’ Division and told pupils how she realised now that the school had ‘set her up for life’ having been told that she could achieve anything she wanted. She recalled how, during the 1980s, her cohort had been reminded that the Prime Minister was a woman as was the Queen so anything was possible! The School had given her “a big vision”, which had to be backed up with energy and she cited the Leverhulme family, who themselves had a big vision and lots of energy as they oversaw the foundation of Bolton School in 1915. Paraphrasing the Nigerian feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Bishop of Lancaster told girls “don’t fold yourselves up” because you feel the need to be liked but unfold your wings to the fullest extent. Quoting Catherine of Siena, she encouraged girls to “be who God called you to be and you will set the world on fire.” She advised girls that they were at “a mountain top moment” where they can take stock and pride in how far they have come and also look forward to the future – a future where they should stretch their wings and take up that big vision! You can watch her full speech here.
Earlier Chairman of Governors, Mr Michael Griffiths, told girls that they had “excelled in a school of high achievers and we are very proud of you.” He praised the “outstanding and dedicated staff and headmistress” and offered thanks to parents for the support they have given throughout. He spoke of how the academic results achieved by pupils allows them to attend the very best universities but also emphasised the holistic education that the school provides, which is delivered with passion and compassion. When pupils leave, he said, they are well prepared to be key players in the world. Mr Griffiths also expressed his delight at the recent success of the 100 Bursary Campaign, which has raised £5m to help deserving local children enjoy an education at Bolton School. He regretted the abolishment of assisted places by government twenty one years ago and saw this as a big blow to social mobility. The success of the campaign moves the school a little nearer to realising its ultimate dream of offering the same level of support to pupils that it did through its first 60 years of existence. He was also pleased that the school, for the third year running, had kept its fee increase significantly below that of the national average and below that of many other northern independent schools. Addressing leavers directly he advised them to: “follow your instincts, but above all, keep to the values you have learnt here, they are precious. It’s your future so good luck and have lots of fun!”
In a humorous and touching address, Headmistress Sue Hincks recapped the leavers’ time in school, wished them all the very best in their future lives and commended their academic and extra-curricular achievements, saying “they are testament to your intellect and the hard work and dedication of your teachers.” The pass rate with Grades A*/A or 9-7 at GCSE this year was 69% and the pass rate with Grades A*-B at A level was 78.4%. Six girls had achieved their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards and a further 38 girls their Silver Awards. Across the School, Miss Hincks recounted an impressive range of achievements, many on the national stage, in sport, the arts, in curricular and extra-curricular activities. She spoke of the community action and volunteering that the girls commit to and how, a year earlier, the School had won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) and earlier this year had won the TES Award for Community Initiative. She was delighted that over the course of the year, the Girls’ Division had raised £13,500 for charities and had hosted a series of enrichment lectures that were open to the general public.
The gathering of parents, pupils, governors and teachers in the Great Hall sang the hymns “I vow to thee my country” and “Jerusalem” and student saxophonist Abigail Naylor performed Concerto by Alexander Glazunov before Rev Dr Jill Duff distributed GCSE and A level certificates and school prizes to the students. The evening culminated with a rousing version of the School Song before refreshments were taken in the Dining Hall.