Bolton School celebrates a record donation allowing its outreach programme to work with the Chorley Inspire Youth Zone to promote social mobility

A prestigious North West independent day school has received a record donation allowing it to do outreach work with Chorley’s Inspire Youth Zone and help level up talent across the North West.

By Aimee Seddon
Friday, 29th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Bolton School has received the largest one-off donation to its bursary fund by Old Boltonian, AO Founder and CEO, John Roberts and his wife Sally, allowing it to establish a new outreach scheme with the youth charity OnSide to promote social mobility by encouraging a wider range of applications to the school’s bursary scheme.

Through the new scheme, called Flourish, the donation will support 14 pupils with means-tested bursaries, funding two Year 7 pupils a year for seven years, through to completion of their A Levels, with the first pair starting next September.

The bursaries are available for young people from OnSide Youth Zones, which includes a Chorley branch, to support their education and cover additional expenses to ensure they benefit from all the opportunities the school has to offer.

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Flourish is led by the youth workers from OnSide, a charity that runs a network of state-of-the-art, multimillion-pound Youth Zones in the UK’s most disadvantaged areas. Image: Dave Phillips Photography

Through the Flourish programme, Year 6 members of Youth Zones in Chorley, Blackburn, and Wigan took part in activities including science experiments, performing arts workshops and graphic design sessions at Bolton School last year and received academic support ahead of taking the entrance exam.

This led to eight pupils taking the exam in January 2022, and three were successful, with two bursaries being provided by John and Sally and one by Bolton School.

John, who has also been a trustee of OnSide since 2015, said: “Sally and I know that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. Bursaries are a brilliant way to level this up. Bolton School is an amazing place and we want young people from OnSide to have the same fantastic experience there as I did. It’s been brilliant seeing the two charities work together to make this happen.

“The youth workers at OnSide are phenomenal at getting the best out of young people and bursaries like this are a direct way to support talent, wherever it’s found. We’re extremely proud of the new pupils and look forward to following their progress.”

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Philip Britton, Head of Foundation at Bolton School said: “The Flourish outreach programme will ensure we can find bursary candidates with real potential, and support them to apply to the School, safe in the knowledge that there need be no barriers – financial or otherwise – to their future success.

"We are delighted that John wishes to pass on the gift of a Bolton School education to the next generation of Bolton School pupils, and honoured by his and Sally’s practical, wholehearted commitment to delivering social mobility through the School’s bursary programme and our partnership with OnSide.”

The Flourish programme will expand to more Youth Zones this year, and work with Year 5 pupils throughout the coming Summer Term and during their Year 6 Autumn Term, to support them to undertake the School’s entrance examination in January 2023.

Helen Taylor, Director of Policy, Partnerships and Impact at OnSide added “Giving young people access to opportunities to fulfil their potential is at the heart of what OnSide Youth Zones are all about. We are incredibly grateful to John and Sally Roberts for their generous support which has enabled this partnership to make a real difference to these young people’s lives.”