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Recent ambitious DT project of designing, building and launching a hot air balloon. School is well represented across the region in athletics, lacrosse, netball, swimming and rounders with its fixture lists showing win after repetitive win in all sports for all years. Two current students are signed to Everton and Manchester City girls' football teams. Drama is very popular and having a purpose-built theatre to stage school productions inspires even... 

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What the school says...

We offer academic excellence at one of the North's pre-eminent schools; outstanding facilities and resources set in 32 acres of grounds; strong extra-curricular and pastoral programmes; an emphasis on developing the whole person; and an inclusive, caring and friendly environment. This is a single-sex school but there are opportunities for co-educational activities with the adjacent Bolton School Boys' Division.

Full fee bursaries from age 11+ and our coach service covering 22 routes ensures pupils are drawn from a wide geographical area.
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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2021, Lynne Kyle.


Majority from junior school Hesketh House, move up to the senior school. Entry to year 7 by reasoning tests - maths, English verbal and non-verbal. High performers called back for interview. One sixth former recalled her first day, 'I remember being a bit worried at first but friends I made on the first day, I still have today.'


Around a third leaves after GCSEs but are replaced with new entrants to the sixth form, some of whom are on bursaries. 'You get more attention from teachers here' observed one of the new intake. Most sixth form leavers go on to study a diverse range of subjects at university including aerospace engineering, music, marketing, psychology, classics, theatre and design; a number have secured apprenticeships with prestigious blue chip companies. One to Oxbridge in 2020, plus 18 medics. Two abroad to study biology at the Florida Technical College and dentistry at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya Barcelona. Popular destinations are Durham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Latest results

In 2021, 77 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 77 per cent A*/A at A level (94 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 67 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 83 per cent A*-B at A level.

Teaching and learning

French, Spanish and German on the menu as well as classical Greek. Mandarin an extracurricular option. Long established links with schools in France, Spain and Germany offer valuable exchange experiences and some lessons are set aside to learn about the respective cultures. All language staff are qualified to teach two languages.

Senior girls take on mentoring roles and some find it useful for nurturing skills in partnerships and communications. 'I like being a mentor. It helps the younger girls and it helps me in understanding what I've learnt.'

Many of the highest performances are in maths, psychology and the sciences. Specialised sessions for sixth formers help them to prepare applications to top universities in the UK and, increasingly, abroad.

Learning support and SEN

SEN provision is available for pupils with mild dyslexia, dyspraxia, hearing disability and limited sight, in class and in specialist sessions.

The arts and extracurricular

Drama is very popular and having a purpose-built theatre to stage school productions inspires even the most reticent thespians. One girl cautiously wondered how her teachers 'might react to the sixth form revue this Christmas.' Some past productions, such as Miss Saigon, have attained almost folkloric status, still spoken of by players and audience alike. Several other venues also used to showcase the school's many bands and orchestras. Art, too, enjoys exalted status, with outstanding examples on display, some exhibiting a level of maturity beyond the years of their creators, though currently little take up at A level. DT makes a strong showing at both GCSE and A level, with a recent ambitious project designing, building and launching a hot air balloon.


The grass pitches, tennis courts and running track all looked in good shape and well maintained, even under a late November, wet Lancashire sky (latest update is a new £1m sports surface primarily for lacrosse and hockey). School is well represented across the region in athletics, lacrosse, netball, swimming and rounders with its fixture lists showing win after repetitive win in all sports for all years. Football is on offer too, and Bolton Wanderers FC provide weekly coaching sessions. Two current students are signed to Everton and Manchester City girls' team respectively. School owns Patterdale Hall, an outdoor pursuits centre in the Lake District, and pupils eagerly look forward to their visits, irrespective of sporting ability - 'It's like a rite of passage.' Our guide looked nostalgically at the weekend bags neatly deposited in the gymnasium, ready for departure.

The school has achieved a happy and productive blend of the old and new. The modern sports hall and 25m swimming pool (shared with the boys' division) both contrasts with and complements the gothic windowed gymnasium - still fully functioning and, judging by the lingering scent of varnish, subject of a recent make-over.

Ethos and heritage

Bolton Girls' School was founded in 1913 by the first Lord Leverhulme, but can trace its origins to 1877 as the Young Ladies' Day School. Leverhulme's portrait looks benignly at all the beneficiaries of his legacy when they assemble in the Great Hall with its wooden buttresses, beamed roof and gothic windows. The imposing arched entrance, sandstone walls and landscaped campus give the school a traditional grandeur more akin to rural public schools than one sitting in a northern industrial town. Once inside, however, the warm welcome is unmistakably northern and pupils and parents spoke of how quickly they felt included. Separate but adjacent quads house the senior girls' and boys' divisions; these are linked by two-tier glazed walkways to the Riley Centre (2013), where sixth formers share spaces, lunchtimes and extracurricular activities, such as drama productions, events and visitor talks. We heard the description 'best of both worlds' from staff and pupils. Indeed, this expression could easily apply to the whole school and how it has deftly created an atmosphere that retains the best elements of tradition with the excitement of innovation and modernity.

Lower sixth formers complete at least 20 hours' community service. 'It seems a lot, but many girls do far more and manage to stay on top of study.' So committed is the school to volunteering in the community that in 2017 it became the first ever to be awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - a sort of MBE for volunteers. School is very proud, claiming it 'shows how much the girls get involved.'

Burgundy coloured uniform definitely belongs in the more traditional world, but none of the pupils expressed rebellious distaste and all agreed that it was 'practical and comfortable.' However, it isn't missed by sixth formers who are permitted civilian dress as long as it is 'smart business' style. Prefects wear gowns that retain the nametags of previous holders, a little tribute to former pupils and an indication, perhaps, that traditions in this school look to inspire rather than burden current pupils.

Vibrant and engaged old girls' network, alumnae including authors Monica Ali and Kate Long, gardener and TV presenter Carol Klein, and Baroness Morris of Bolton, first chancellor of the University of Bolton and deputy speaker of the House of Lords.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Responsibility for pastoral care lies with year and form tutors who monitor each girl in and out of class and meet weekly to review pupil concerns. This extends, in turn, to the heads of middle, upper and sixth forms. Senior girls mentor those in years 7 and 8, identifing any specific issues and, if necessary, bringing them to teachers' attention. School council is a forum to air concerns that, if unresolved, can then be taken to the respective head of year. School also provides access to a professional counsellor should pupils need more particular support.

School's ethos of academic achievement fosters self-control and self-discipline and, according to the head, develops a strong sense of responsibility. 'No picking on little ones' said a year 8 girl, illustrating that such values are learnt early, a view later endorsed by the parents who chorused, 'bullying just wouldn't be tolerated.'

Pupils and parents

Pupils we met were articulate, interested, polite, confident, and possessed an enthusiasm for knowledge that was rather reassuring in this somewhat cynical age. They expressed genuine interest in each other's views and at times the whys and wherefores of our questions. In one class pupils were discussing books as diverse as Jane Austen novels and published works on One Direction. We witnessed a lively debate among all years on subjects ranging from uniforms to extracurricular clubs, 'Oh wow! There's just so much to do!' declared one young pupil, attempting to list the many clubs she had attended.

School's social mix is due in part to the generous support of Leverhulme's legacy. This seems to engender a thoughtful understanding of the disparities in society and there was certainly no sense of entitlement among the pupils we spoke to - all were aware of how fortunate they were to attend the school. 'The school gives the girls confidence and self-assurance but they're also thoughtful,' said one mum, with another adding, 'they are well-balanced and I am very proud of how my girl conducts herself out of school.' One mother felt confident in asserting, 'sending them here is the best thing we ever did for our children.'

Some parents are former pupils but others, parents of 'first-timers', readily endorsed the view that the school does hold a special place in Bolton hearts. 'We've seen the school improve year on year.' Many families do much more than pay school fees, donating time and effort to help via a very active parents' association (BSGDPA).

Money matters

Astute fiscal management of the generous bursary scheme, supplemented by a variety of other fund raising events, enables school to provide full or part means-tested support to a fifth of all pupils.

The last word

Bolton's social mix of pupils, the prudent management of its bursary fund and the strong community links it has forged with its home town ensures affection beyond alumni and parents. The school produces pupils in its own image - respectful of tradition but also confident and well-prepared for the present day.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

The School has some experience of catering for pupils with a range of disabilities, medical conditions and other special needs. For each pupil meeting the academic criteria for admission, the School will make reasonable adjustments so that any pupil with a disability is not put at a substantial disadvantage compared with any pupil who has no such disability. The School will also do all that is reasonable to detect and deal appropriately with a learning difficulty which amounts to a 'special educational need', although our staff are not qualified to make a medical diagnosis of conditions such as those commonly referred to as dyslexia, or of other learning difficulties. Remedial teaching provided by the School may be charged as extra.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyslexia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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