Bolton's reputation as a centre for arts and culture continues to grow.

Not only has it been named as this year's Greater Manchester Town of Culture, one school is celebrating achieving the highest award possible for the cultural education it provides to pupils across Bolton.

Bolton School has been recognised for the first-class cultural education it provides, with the junior and senior girls' divisions having been awarded the Platinum Artsmark Award, the highest accolade given by Arts Council England.

The Arts Council supports schools to develop and celebrate arts and cultural education across the curriculum, bringing learning to life for children and young people.

Beyond the core offerings of design technology including textiles, art, music and theatre, the school hosts a regular Culture Festival and has a governor who oversees arts provision, along with senior leaders and a director of creative learning.

The school was praised for its active role in the Local Cultural Educational Partnership and for helping shape the local arts strategy.

A special mention was also made of the efforts the school makes in consulting with young people in the delivery of strategy, including partnering with NW Youth-Zones and Creatives Now.

Much of its work in boosting children’s cultural capital has been in areas receiving free school meals, using BeeWell data to shape activities to meet children’s needs.

The Bolton News: Prestigious Artsmark Award for Bolton School Girls’ DivisionPrestigious Artsmark Award for Bolton School Girls’ Division (Image: Bolton School)Lynne Kyle, head of the girls’ division said: “We are very proud of achieving a Platinum Artsmark Award. 

“This is a thriving area of school life, with pupils benefiting greatly from the huge range of activities we offer.

“All pupils participate in public concerts, including events at the Bridgewater Hall.

“In addition to traditional musical theatre opportunities, the opportunities available to pupils have included the ESU Performing Shakespeare Competition, our Festival of Culture and outdoor theatre productions - which have involved 1600 school and community participants over the last two years - plus a musical for the younger years alongside the mainstays of senior theatre and musical theatre, to give a few examples.

“Many pupils take private music lessons, with dance and acting certificates added to this range and outside school, our youth-led social arts initiative has, in the last couple of years, involved over 350 participants, 15 projects and 18 cross-sector partnerships.

“We are very much committed to delivering a high-quality arts and cultural education and we look forward to continuing to grow with Artsmark.”

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The Bolton News: Prestigious Artsmark Award for Bolton School Girls’ DivisionPrestigious Artsmark Award for Bolton School Girls’ Division (Image: Bolton School)

Dr Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said: “I would like to congratulate Bolton School on their Artsmark Award.

“Becoming an Artsmark school demonstrates that through offering a broad, ambitious and creative curriculum, young people have the opportunity to develop character and resilience, increasing their knowledge, curiosity and skills that will remain with them through to adult life.”

Helen Holt, deputy head of the junior girls’ school, said: “As a school, we engaged in a two-year creative thinking action research project, guided by Rethinking Assessment, University of Winchester, and ACER, and this involved junior and senior school colleagues collaborating across leadership and classroom roles.

“Pupil-led gallery reviews showcase creative thinking projects, demonstrating metacognitive progression through multi-modal outcomes in science and literacy.

“The senior school has also adopted creative thinking pedagogies across the curriculum and the scope of this work continues to evolve.

“Last year the ISI 2023 Inspectorate noted, “from a young age, pupils' study skills develop rapidly, supported in the junior school by an identified set of 'creative habits” which provide a framework of learner attributes.

The Boys’ Division at Bolton School also holds the Platinum Artsmark Award.

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