An awards evening at Bolton School has praised year 12 students for their commitment to volunteering in the local community. Over 85% of the students had done more than 20 hours of work over the past year but many had exceeded this. In total, they had completed over 10,000 hours of work helping out in the local region. The students had undertaken so many hours this year that vInspired, the leading national charity for volunteering, which records hours commited by young people, commended the School for being the highest achieving establishment in the country and it was awarded £1,000 to further develop local projects.
The School often shares its best practice with other schools that are looking to develop similar schemes.
Recapping the school year, the activities co-ordinator, Mrs Entwistle, gave a quick overview of the projects that students had been involved with. These ranged from working at hospices, to helping younger pupils with reading, to assisting in care homes, to working in charity shops, to developing the skills of new English speakers. Short videos were shown featuring the success of the newly introduced Tea at the Riley event, initiated by sixth former Ananya Baksi, where older local people have enjoyed seven tea and cake afternoons whilst talking to sixth form students. The event also highlighted the great work undertaken during a Maths Saturday School which encouraged over 40 bright local year six children to reach level six in their SATs. The two projects, as with all volunteering activities, illustrated how the students’ efforts can make a huge difference to the lives of others whilst allowing them to enjoy unique opportunities for development of their organisational, team-working, empathetic and leadership skills.
Younger pupils are also becoming involved with volunteering at an earlier age, many of them through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. The School was recently told by Mr Paul Griffiths, Regional Manager of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, that it was the largest independent school provider of pupils achieving the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the North-West of England.
Several students gave short presentations on the work they had undertaken and the profound effect that volunteering had had on their life. Student Nick Johnson said: “It has been a fantastic experience. I have developed in so many ways, particularly my organisational skills! I would like to thank the school for helping me grow into a person that I otherwise would not have.”
The evening’s special guest was Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary and Old Gir,l Jeanette McCormick. Jeanette hails from a family that has seen several generations pass through the school and is a regular contributor to careers forums at the school. She reminded the students of the huge benefits that flow in both directions when people volunteer – changing people’s lives for the better. She also spoke about her own family’s volunteering efforts and she also said that of the 3,000 members of staff she oversees in the police force, 15-20% of them are volunteers. She closed the evening with an apposite maxim: “Those who can, do; those who can do more, volunteer.”