10:00am Sunday 27th October 2013
By Liam Thorp
AT BOLTON School Girls Division Junior School, a learning environment has been carefully created that draws on the traditions of the past and combines them with the innovations of the future.
The school is based in Hesketh House on the Bolton School site, set back from the other school buildings.
The house takes its name from William Hesketh Lever — who established the school.
He was an industrialist and philanthropist who was born in Bolton and is most well known for founding the Lever Brothers firm.
The school is steeped in history, which the pupils are encouraged to explore — but they do so in a forward-thinking, advanced way of modern ICT facilities, up-to-date science equipment and sprawling playing fields.
Part of that exploration includes a regular trip to Port Sunlight, a model village created by Lever for his Sunlight soap factory workers in 1888.
“It’s important to us that our pupils are aware of the history of the school,” says headteacher Ruth Brierley.
Walking through the corridors of the building you are greeted with a set of pupils that are both buzzing with excitement, while remaining immaculately well-behaved.
That is because the philosophy of the staff to provide girls with as many opportunities as possible, but to ensure that they are developing into compassionate, understanding members of society at the same time.
And it is working — everywhere you look girls are holding doors open for each other, helping friends with work or chatting politely with teachers.
This area is something that Mrs Brierley is extremely passionate about.
She said: “Underlying everything that we do is a set of simple but far reaching values — an understanding and respect for others, a sense of responsibility, the importance of self belief, and a realisation that we all depend on each other.”
There are 170 girls based in the junior school, aged between seven and 11, and unlike many youngsters of their age, all have had to sit an assessment to gain a place at Hesketh House.
Girls who apply are expected to demonstrate good English, maths and verbal reasoning skills, but staff are also looking for “enthusiastic” girls “who take an interest in the world around them” and perhaps have talents in certain extra-curricular areas.
The girls enjoy classes and are taught to always strive to be better.
Eight-year-old Ayesha Jiva said: “I really like lessons and my favourite subject is maths — I like trying to get better at things. I have a lot of fun at school.”
These sentiments are echoed by classmate, Porscha Johnson, aged eight from Wigan Road, who said: “I really enjoy hearing about all the different subjects but my favourite is probably geography.”
Outside of the classroom, the girls are again encouraged to be the best they can in a range of extracurricular activities — and these efforts are enhanced by the presence of specialist staff for music, PE and languages.
At the end of their time at Hesketh House, most of the girls will make the short journey to the nearby Senior Girls Division school — and it is apparent from meeting them that they will do so as diligent, knowledgeable and perhaps most importantly — compassionate and responsible young members of society.
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