Xaverian College students win top spots in Edge Hill University’s Creative Writing Short Story Competition 2022

The competition brief was to write a 1000-word short story based around the theme of ‘New Beginnings’. Amongst the many entrants to the competition, Xaverian College students, Emilio Fox Castineiras’ Alex Macleod and Alex Allen completed a clean sweep with first, second and third places.

Emilio is currently a Year 13 student at Xaverian, studying A Levels in English Language, Film Studies and History. His story, entitled ‘I’m Here Now’, is about two people and one of them is dying. The ‘new beginning’ element of the story is the mystery about what could happen after the death of one of the characters. Emilio commented: “I enjoyed writing the story and it was good to get it recognised and to know people have enjoyed reading it. Winning the competition will give me more confidence in writing stories in the future. I like the idea of writing stories as a career, but I also play the piano and trumpet, so I’ll see where my future career takes me.”

Competition judges from the university’s creative writing department commented on Emilio’s story: “The short story ‘I’m Here Now’ struck us particularly for its mature and lyrical style. Castineiras is experimenting here with intriguing use of tense and the story feels well-paced for the specified wordcount. A thoughtful and sensitively written piece.”

Emilio is also a former winner of the ‘Talking About Voices’ competition in May 2022, led by Manchester Voices research project. Emilio and fellow Xaverian student, Faith Axon-Kendall, teamed-up to produce a podcast on bilingualism and the change or difference in personalities when speaking in different languages.

Alex Allen, who is studying A Levels in Music, Music Tech, and English Language, wrote a piece called ‘Cornfield’ and based the plot around a Kansas farm inspector who visited a farm. The story is told from the perspective of a blind boy called Jonas and what he heard happen that evening. It tells how it didn’t work out between the inspector and the family at the farm and how the situation degenerated into a fight between the father and the inspector, which resulted in the death of the inspector.

Alex said: “I was pleased the judges enjoyed the story, and I will take on board their feedback so I can improve my story-telling technique in the future. As well as writing, I am also a keen musician and play the guitar, double bass, drums and the piano, so I want to become a professional music performer/musician as a career. In some ways, storytelling is linked to music and storytelling and song-writing go together. The more you work on one, the more you work on the other, and I hope to continue doing both. When I finish my A Levels at Xaverian, I hope to continue at a music conservatoire to learn more about and perform music.”

Commenting on Alex’s story, the judges said: “The short story ‘Cornfield’ has a compelling and authentic voice. The ending is unexpected, yet Allen has woven the truth through the work effectively. It made us think about the nature of being witness to an event. And difficult subject matter is handled with nuance and care.”

Georgia Hargreaves from Edge Hill University commented: “We were delighted that Xaverian students entered the competition and placed so highly. We received entries from many talented young writers in the area so all three students should be incredibly proud of themselves for the quality of their entries. The judges were impressed with the high standard of their writing and the fact they are all students from the same College. Well done to all and we are sure they will all go on to be successful writers in their future careers.”

If you’re passionate about communication, or love to read, then English is a course you’ll find irresistible. At Xaverian, students can choose to study A Levels in English Language, English Literature, or a combined English Language and Literature course.

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses.

Xaverian Student success in University of Cambridge National Chemistry Competition

Talented A Level Chemistry students at Xaverian College gain outstanding copper and silver awards in the national Cambridge Chemistry Challenge for lower sixth students, giving them experience at the highest level against tough competition.

The competition, which is organised by the University of Cambridge, aims to stretch and challenge students interested in Chemistry and provides an excellent experience for Chemistry students wishing to take their studies further. The paper is set by an experienced team of teachers and university chemists. It is designed to be accessible to Year 12 students but will take them significantly beyond the syllabus and encourage them to think about science in the way they would at university.

The challenge takes the form of a 90-minute written paper which students completed at the College. They had no prior knowledge of the topics but prepared themselves by looking at past papers. The students tackled questions based on advanced Chemistry theory and the top students were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Certificates. Students who achieved A/A* grades in the end of year exam were invited to take part in the competition, and of these, 14 gained Copper and Silver Awards, with Copper students being in the top 66% and Silver students in the top 32% out of those who competed.

Priyanka Nayar, Chemistry Teacher at the College, said: “We are exceptionally proud of our students as it was a very tricky paper.  The questions would challenge some of the brightest university students, so their copper and silver awards are a great achievement. With over 8000 taking part throughout the country, our students have proved themselves to be amongst the best at this level.”

Taking part in the competition is a great addition for the students’ personal statement and College reference when the students apply to university.  Gaining a certificate proves a high level of attainment in chemistry and many previous students have secured places on Degree programmes at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. 

Bradley Williams, a Year 13 student who gained a Bronze award, said: “I found the challenge extremely challenging but rewarding at the same. It really tested my academic ability and improved my problem-solving skills which will help me at university when tackling challenging issues. I’ve applied to study a Degree in Chemistry at university, and in the future, I hope work in a major pharmaceutical company in a role conducting research into new medicines.

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses. Visit xaverian.ac.uk to find out more.

Xaverian College Health and Social Care Student Contributes to a British Medical Council Research Paper

Year 12 Student at Xaverian College, Ecem Esen, has recently written a contribution to a medical article published by the British Medical Council, as part of the ‘Your Rheum’ group, which aims to raise awareness of rheumatological conditions and the impact these have on the lives of young people.

The group, funded by Versus Arthritis and comprises sufferers aged 13 to 25 years, a professor of rheumatology and a researcher, is an advisory group that speaks to other medical researchers who are researching unrelated conditions but where Rheumatology conditions have had an adverse effect on these.

Ecem was diagnosed with a type of Vasculitis and is one of only 2000 sufferers of this rare condition in the UK.  She said: “I was asked to join the group because I suffer from this condition and have experienced both being very ill with it and making a recovery to get back to normal life. I have had a number of spells in hospital for treatment and, over a two-year period during Covid, the medical staff at the hospital were the only people I had contact with.”

Ecem lost all her hair during the treatment and had to learn to walk again because of the impact it had on her muscles. She got to know the staff so well at the hospital that they invited her to join the group and contribute her experiences of living with the condition.

The group periodically takes part in online meetings where they answer questions and pass on their experiences to others, as well as writing the paper that was published in July on the British Medical Council’s website. The whole group played a part in writing the article over two years and, after going through many draft stages with the publisher, the article is now published on the BMA website.

The article was reviewed by the BMC who gave positive and constructive feedback as the article was being written and commented that Ecem’s contribution was invaluable in giving a personal perspective of the condition and the impact it can have on young people’s lives.

Ecem commented: “It feels amazing to be part of the group and have an article published. I feel grateful that I can give my opinion on things like this as I know how much it helps patients like me. Even just knowing that I can help someone else my age with the same condition, makes me feel amazing because research is really important.”

“I feel inspired to continue my education in health and social care, as I’ve been around it for a long a time and built up a lot of knowledge around the patient side of it. I would like to know more about the condition and hopefully work with and help young people, which I know I will find really rewarding.

“I hope to go to university when I finish my course at Xaverian to study on a health-related Degree. I am determined to complete my course, but I will need to carefully manage my illness and find the right medication. It can be very unpredictable, with no apparent cause when the condition gets worse, so it’s important to understand this to prevent it from interfering with my studies and my life.

Stephanie Bailey, Pastoral Manager at Xaverian College, said: “We are really pleased that Ecem has been chosen to be a member of Your Rheum Group and that she has contributed with her own personal experience of the condition. She has persevered though some difficult times in recent years and is determined not to let it hold her back. She has a lot to contribute to the research being undertaken in Rheumatology, and she should be justifiably proud of what she has achieved with the group and how she has inspired other young people with similar conditions.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses. Visit xaverian.ac.uk to find out more.

Xaverian College Business students to turn foodtastic Slurrp Farm brand into national sensation

Business Students at Xaverian College were recently set the challenge of turning Slurrp Farm from a small, local healthy food provider into a national brand.

The farm set Xaverian College Students a brief to work with University of Chester Business School Students to create a business plan to launch Slurrp Farm’s ambitions to transition from being a local producer of niche food products to expanding its distribution network to the whole of the UK.

The students first developed their ideas into a business plan and, in a Dragons’ Den-style pitch, presented their ideas to a panel of experts in the Northwest’s biggest boardroom. The students focused their ideas around the company’s mission to be a green provider and pitched a sustainable concept as a basis for marketing their products. As well as gaining valuable business experience to put on their future careers, the students were given a taster of university life with a chance to explore the university’s facilities.

Theo Teague, former Priestnall School student, said: “It has been a fascinating experience and, as well as being a great addition to my CV, it has given me a great insight into university life. We got the opportunity to work on a real-life project and present our findings which was really valuable in teaching us the business skills needed to succeed in the future.”

Jokotola Adenuga, who joined the College after studying her GCSEs at St Thomas More RC College, added: “The day was extremely informative and interesting. The lecturers offered lots of insight into what studying Business at the University is like and it has really motived me. I thought all groups showed entrepreneurial flair and developed innovative ideas that Slurpp Farm could implement. It was a great day and I hope we get to do something similar next year!”  

Fran Shollo, Lecturer of Business at the University of Chester, commented: “We were delighted to host such outstanding students from Xaverian College.

“The students were challenged to pitch their ideas and think on their feet. The outcome was extremely successful and staff from Chester Business School thoroughly enjoyed this visit. I was astonished by my team of students, they were enthusiastic, driven and committed to the task.

“At Chester Business School, we put experiential learning at the forefront, hence why the Slurrp Business workshop helped the students engage in a practical task, and expand their academic knowledge further. It has been a real pleasure and I look forward to seeing them again in the near future. Well done everyone!”

Do you want your own start-up business and are you thirsty for success? Do you wake up every day with product ideas and do you want to develop these ideas and get them to the UK or a global marketplace? Then you’ll thrive on a Business course at Xaverian.  

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers exciting opportunities to over 2500 students. To find out more, visit xaverian.ac.uk – Discover Your Future!

Xaverian College welcomes over 1,400 local Year 10 pupils to annual Taster Days

Every year, Xaverian College welcomes Year 10 pupils from across the region to its Taster Days, providing them with the opportunity to experience student life at an outstanding Catholic sixth form college.

This much-loved Taster Day programme aims to extend learning opportunities, raise aspirations and assist in supporting young people’s transition into Further Education. 

Pupils follow a personalised timetable, sampling three subjects before having lunch on-Campus with current students, providing them with a chance to find out everything the College has to offer.

Ploutos Vourliotis, Careers Advisor at St Peter’s RC High School, commented: “We absolutely love bringing our pupils to Xaverian each year. It’s such a valuable experience and we always arrive back at school informed and inspired.

“Pupils that progress to the College from St Peter’s always have a smooth transition and we believe the Taster Days play a huge role in this. Just being able to see the Campus and mix with pupils from other high schools alleviates any apprehensions they have and enhances their confidence.

“We’re already excited for next year!”

Emily Hall, English Teacher at CHS South, added: “The Taster Days provide a great opportunity for our pupils to think about what they might like to study in the future and what steps they need to take to make it happen.

“All staff and students at Xaverian are so welcoming and friendly, there was a real buzz throughout the day and all of our pupils left incredibly excited about their next steps.”  

Antonio de Paola, Vice Principal – Curriculum, said: “It is vital that we encourage young people to think about their futures, as it gives purpose to their learning and enables them to develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career of their choosing.

“Our Year 10 Taster Days really stretch the boundaries of raising aspirations and I am really pleased that they continue to be much-anticipated by our local schools.  It is a pleasure that we can work in partnership with them to empower young people and ensure nothing stops them from reaching their goals.”

Xaverian College provides students with the skills, experience and qualifications that prepare them for their future career or higher-level study and encourage them to become confident individuals who will make valuable contributions to businesses and the local economy. 

To #DiscoverYourFuture at Xaverian, attend one of their upcoming Open Days on Saturday 8th and Sunday 16th October 2022. Visit xaverian.ac.uk to find out more.  

Lights, camera, action! Xaverian College Alumni lands dream role in the Creative Industries

Xaverian College Alumni, Tehreem Faisal, has recently landed her dream job as VFX Production Assistant at Pinewood Studios.

Since leaving College in 2020, Tehreem has supported Phedon Papamichael, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer on the creation of Indiana Jones 5, as a Director of Photography (DoP) Assistant, before joining the visual effects team to work on Andor, a prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Tehreem said: “I have always wanted to work in the creative industries, but it wasn’t until I started studying at Xaverian that I became truly excited about my future. My teachers, in particular Mr Steele (Fine Art) and Mr Drinkwater (Film Studies), were so inspiring. They make you fall in love with the subject and encourage you to experiment, which is the best way to develop.  

“I had the opportunity to take part in the BFI Film Academy during my time at College and the connections I made have been invaluable. After leaving Xaverian I went on to study a range of BFI courses, including animation and production and this really helped fine tune both my skills and knowledge. It was through connections I made at the BFI that I was successful in securing an interview at Pinewood Studios.”

Tehreem completed her GCSEs at Manchester Health Academy before joining Xaverian to study Film Studies, Fine Art and Media Studies.

Tehreem continued: “Xaverian is such an amazing place! Staff are so supportive in encouraging you to succeed academically but also providing you with the space to grow personally. I enjoyed every single moment in and outside of the classroom and made so many great friends. If I could give one piece of advice to current students, it would be to believe in yourself and seize every opportunity!”    

Shaun Steele, Divisional Lead, said: “With the support from our brilliant teachers, each and every year our students go on to do incredible things. We are so proud of Tehreem and what she has achieved in the last two years. It just goes to show how far hard work and determination can take you – in this case to the set of a blockbuster movie!”

Behind every terrific tale, symbolism and subtext is an extraordinary director and the Film Studies course at Xaverian takes students on a journey inside the minds of those with a revolutionary story to share. Students have access to excellent equipment and facilities, allowing them to sharpen their skills in every part of the frame, including lighting, sound, set design, composition and editing.

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers exciting opportunities to over 2500 students. To find out more, visit Xaverian.ac.uk – Discover Your Future!

Xaverian College BTEC students once again achieved 100% pass rate

Students at Xaverian College are celebrating yet another year of impressive BTEC results, retaining its position as a leading sixth form college.

BTEC students once again achieved 100% pass rate in all seven vocational courses, which include Business, Criminology, Health and Social Care, IT, Music Technology, Science and Sport, with 64% gaining high grades of DMM and above.

Across single, double and triple options this year at Level 2 and 3, 292 students achieved Distinction or Distinction* grades, which include some double and triple Distinction grades.

Students have secured many highly competitive places, including Medicine, Law, Midwifery and Teaching, at some of the UK’s top Russell Group Universities, while many others will be starting higher level Apprenticeships and employment.

Head of Applied Studies, Gaynor Eccleston, said: “We understand that students have different learning styles, and this can affect their choice of subjects. Here at Xaverian, students have the option to choose a more academic route or practical-based courses. Our practical-based courses are extremely popular, as students can combine these with two A Levels, which gives them the best of both worlds.”

Maisie Ellul, who joined the College after completing her GCSEs at St Matthew’s RC High School, was one of many students who combined qualifications, achieving Distinction in BTEC Music Technology, and two A grades in A Level Art and Design and Music.

She said: “I chose to study at Xaverian largely due to the reputation of the Music department. The combination of being able to study both Music and Music Technology and the endless opportunities to perform live was exactly what I was looking for.

“Having experienced staff members, who are musicians themselves or still work within the industry means I have been learning from the very best. I have had constant advice and guidance on how to become a successful musician! I’ve never felt so excited about my future, and I can’t wait to start my Music Degree at the University of Manchester in a few weeks.

Gaynor continued: “We’re so pleased for our students and the successes they have achieved over the past two years – both academically and personally. The students’ hard work and determination has truly paid off, and we’re extremely proud of them all.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses. Visit xaverian.ac.uk to find out more. There has never been a better time to #DiscoverYourFuture!

A* A Level students

Xaverian College students celebrate fantastic A Level Results

Students at Xaverian College are celebrating yet another year of impressive A Level results, retaining its position as a leading sixth form college.

A Level students achieved a pass rate of 99%, with 34% of students achieving A* to A grades, 62% achieving A* to B grades and 85% achieving A* to C grades.

A record achievement of 313 A* grades were awarded, with particular success in English Literature, Film Studies, Mathematics, Politics and Psychology. Graphic Communication and Music recorded similar success with over 90% A* to B grades awarded.

Students have secured many highly competitive places, including Medicine, Engineering, Midwifery and Teaching, at some of the UK’s top Russell Group Universities, while many others will be starting higher level Apprenticeships and employment.

Dominic Seymour, who achieved four A* grades in Chemistry, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics and gained a place studying Mathematics at the University of Oxford, said: “Receiving my offer to go to Oxford was a great moment for me and now I am delighted I have been accepted with the grades I achieved. Xaverian really is a community where you are encouraged to believe in yourself and your abilities and this has helped me to get to where I want to be, it’s been amazing!

“I like all areas of maths so being at the University of Oxford will help me to find out which area of Maths I want to specialise in. After university, I would like to use my Degree to go into research related to physics or chemistry as Maths is always an essential element in scientific research.”

Other students joining Dominic at the University of Oxford, include:

  • Abigail Pole, A*A*A*, Classics and English
  • Jess Scanlon, A*AA, Classics with Oriental Studies
  • Jonathan Clark, A*A*AA, History
  • Kirstin Attfield, A*A*A*A*A*, Mathematics
  • Tawfik Al-Terawi, A*A*A*, Medicine

Joining the Oxbridge celebrations was Saskia Shakos, who achieved four A* grades in English Literature, Law, Psychology and EPQ, gained a place at the University of Cambridge to study Law.

Rhiannon Sellers, who joined the College after completing her GCSEs at Sale Grammar School, gained three A* grades in Biology, Chemistry and Geography and is progressing to Lancaster University to study Natural Sciences.

She said: “I’m excited about my grades and going to university. I hope to use my Degree to go into research to make the world a better place in terms of climate change and eco systems.

“Xaverian has given me a lot of support throughout my A Levels, even though the College is about being more independent, the support is there if you need it. Xaverian has been an amazing experience for me and has been a really good two years of my life.”

Dominic Seymour
Rhiannon Sellers

Principal, Tony Knowles, said: “We have been on an incredible journey with our Year 13s who have demonstrated inspiring determination and enthusiasm.

“Today’s results reflect so much of what is unique about Xaverian College, extraordinary students with ambition, first-class teachers and dedicated support professionals working together to create this amazing momentum.

“I am extremely proud that we have been able to play a part in our students’ success to date and a small part of who they will become in the future. We wish them all the best for their next chapter.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses. Visit xaverian.ac.uk to find out more. There has never been a better time to #ExploreYourFuture!

Celebrating award-winning students at Xaverian College  

Emma Jones, a Year 12 student at Xaverian College, has been named one of four winners in the prestigious Portico Sadie Massey Awards, which aims to encourage a life-long love of reading and writing in young people from all backgrounds.

Established in 2015, the Awards are named after Glasgow-born Sadie Massey and her desire to spread a love of reading and writing.

The Portico Library works with Manchester’s most respected ambassadors of children’s and young adult’s writing, with a particular emphasis on exploring stories based in the North of England, past, present or future.

Emma’s short story, Letting Go, has a nostalgic tone and focuses on processing the loss of a loved one.

Commenting on her win, Emma said: “My English Teacher, Mr Perry, encouraged me to enter the competition after we did some creative writing lessons. Initially I was writing to a prompt – to write about a meal – and it sort of spiralled into the meal being a source of nostalgia for the protagonist; the backstory – the loss of his father – came out of that.

“I was so surprised when I found out I had won! Taking part has given me more confidence in my writing and inspired me to get involved with new opportunities that are related to my subjects outside of College.”

Emma joined the College in September 2021, after completing her GCSEs at Loreto Grammar School. Emma is currently studying English Language and Literature, History and Sociology, and has aspirations to pursue a career linked to creative writing.

Joining in the celebrations is another Year 12 student, Izobel Davies, who has been named a runner up in this year’s Words For Your World Competition. Launched to coincide with the closing of COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the competition is led by the University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, in collaboration with Save the Children UK and UK-Med.

Students were invited to write a speech or letter, addressed to the UN, about their hopes and fears about the climate emergency, as well as specific policy recommendations, encouraging everyone to think in new and impactful ways.

The competition inspired hundreds across the UK, including Izobel, a former Priestnall School student, who is currently studying English Language and Literature, History and Psychology at the College. Izobel wrote a speech highlighting the urgent need to save the cities, culture and people that are being washed away due to rising sea levels, ending with a thought-provoking statement – “Unlike the ancient myth of the utopian city lost to the ocean, there will be no one left alive to pass on the story of how we chose our deaths.”

Guy Perry, English Teacher at Xaverian College, said: “It is extremely pleasing to see our students recognised for their fantastic work. These competitions present something rather beautiful to the critical and curious mind – the freedom they offer to explore ideas and texts allows students like Emma and Izobel to truly challenge themselves outside of the classroom. Both have bright futures ahead of them!”

You can read both entries online:

If you’re passionate about communication, or love to read, then English is a course you’ll find irresistible. At Xaverian, students can choose to study A Levels in English Language, English Literature, or a combined English Language and Literature course.

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses.

Xav’s Positive Paper 2021-2022

This year we celebrated 160 years of Xaverian! There have been many changes over the years, however the fundamentals have stayed the same. The zeal and passion we have in abundance continues to grow and the success of our staff and students is inspirational.

To catch up on all of the fantastic things that have happened at Xaverian this year, grab a coffee and spend a few moments reading Xav’s Positive Paper 2021-2022.