We Made It To SXSW Film Festival

A video archivist in the late 90s who unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the dark conspiracy behind them…

A film written by Xaverian Film Department Curriculum Lead, Philip Drinkwater and former member of college staff Tim Woodall, starring Harry Shum Jr (Crazy Rich Asians, Glee), Chris Sullivan (This is Us) and Kelley Mack (The Walking Dead).

Phil and Tim started working at Xaverian back in 2009, both writing independently when they decided to collaborate. The duo wrote and directed three award-winning short films together; Rain on Film (starring Josie Long); How to Disappear Completely; and Broadcast Signal Intrusion. They travelled to New York to take part in the New York Television Festival, and developed show ideas with the BBC, Working Title, and NBC Universal. The film, Broadcast Signal Intrusion was written a few years ago and was bought by an American company, Queensbury Pictures. After being shot in Chicago last year, the film premiere will be at SXSW this March.

Film Director, Phil Drinkwater said:

“Broadcast Signal Intrusion is something we’ve been working on for years now. It started as a weird little idea we had which we wrote in a shed somewhere. Then we directed a short film based on it, which was filmed here at Xaverian and with film students as Production Assistants! Then, after we wrote the feature script, it was optioned by Hollywood and we developed it over endless phone calls between ourselves (often walking home in the rain through Levenshulme) and the producers (definitely not in the rain, somewhere in Los Angeles).

We’re so proud of the Film Department here at Xaverian, and of the fact that we are a bunch of dedicated film specialists who not only write about film and have studied it, but who are also actively involved in the industry itself. This unique access and perspective places Xaverian in its own league when it comes to this subject and this industry, a fact backed up by the fact that we are the number one destination for A-Level Film Studies in the North West and by our academic results which are consistently amongst the best in the country.”

We are proud of Phil from the Film Department for such a big achievement and are very excited for the premiere!

To find out more about the Film Department at Xaverian, click here.

For more information about open days and how to apply, click here.

Evaluating the pandemic and SEND in Manchester

Manchester Local Authority are having a visit from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission to look at how Manchester has supported children and young people with Special Educational Needs and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ofsted and the CQC would really like to hear your views:

The aims of the SEND interim visits are:

  • To understand the impact of the pandemic on children and young people with SEND and their families
  • To find out what has worked well for them during this time, what the challenges have been and lessons learned
  • To work within the Local Area to identify opportunities for improvement that address the challenges faced by children and young people with SEND
  • To highlight best practice case studies and share insights nationally

Latest update on Results and Appeals – Tuesday 18th August

Latest update on Centre Assessed Grades for A-Level subjects

Dear students and parents/carers

As you will have followed in the national news yesterday the Government has now made a further announcement. This confirms that the A Level grades students will receive will be the centre assessment grades that were submitted to awarding bodies by schools and colleges. This is the grade we estimated you would most likely have achieved in your exam.  If your Ofqual moderated grade is higher you will receive that. This switch to centre assessed grades applies to both A levels and GCSE results which students will receive later this week.

Right now what you will see in exams on Cedar are your Ofqual calculated grades. We will be directly emailing you your centre assessed grades for A-Level and AS subjects later this morning. These grades can only go to a college email account. As soon as we receive updated official grades from exam boards we will be able to put these into CEDAR.

​In this context, we want to reassure you that your teachers worked hard to decide on your centre assessed grades. We were asked by the exam boards to send two pieces of information for each of your subjects, based on what we know about your work and achievements. Firstly, the grade we believed you were most likely to get if teaching, learning and exams had happened as planned. Each of your centre assessed grades was based on your subject teacher’s holistic professional judgement, balancing the different sources of evidence they were asked to consider within the guidance provided. Their judgements were based on a range of things such as classwork, homework, mock exams, any non-examined assessment or coursework, and general progress during the course. Curriculum leaders and teachers considered your performance over the course of study and made a realistic judgement of the grade you would have been most likely to get if you had taken your exams in a subject and completed any non-exam assessment this summer. Secondly, within each subject we were asked to rank order you by performance for each grade.

We understand how stressful the last few days have been and wanted to reassure you that we will continue to do all we can to support you.

If you require support with university admission please contact careers.

Tony Knowles,


At Home Exhibition

Today sees the launch of At home, an online exhibition of photographs taken by sixth form college students during the Covid-19 lockdown. Over 140 students from 46 colleges submitted their photographs for the exhibition that runs from 4th to 19th June 2020. The exhibition is being co-ordinated by the Sixth Form Colleges Association and all photographs can be viewed on the SFCA gallery website here.

Launching today’s exhibition, Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said:

“This has been a difficult time for the entire country but this exhibition is a wonderful example of how creativity can flourish in the face of adversity. It’s great to see how these sixth form students have captured the experiences of lockdown from a young person’s perspective. A huge congratulations to all exhibitors and I wish them every success for the future”.

Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said:

“At home highlights the extraordinary artistic talent that exists in our sector. We are holding this exhibition to recognise and celebrate excellence in sixth form colleges, but also to stimulate our thinking about the world this summer. It is imperative that we keep the arts in education secure and flourishing. If young people are to make a valuable contribution to society –  even if they are to be successful scientists, engineers, doctors and technicians – they need to develop their creative skills, their artistic sensitivities and their ability to interact with others. All of this will be more important than ever in the post-Covid world”.

The exhibition also went live on BBC News, with Xaverian student, Dorottya Szabo’s work being featured on their website.

Shaun Steele, Head of Art at Xaverian College, said, “Thanks to all our talented students who submitted their art, photography, graphics and textiles work. We are delighted that the following lower sixth students had their work selected for this National exhibition.”


Shannon Baldwin: Fine art “Lockdown”                     Dorottya Szabo: Photography ” APARTment”                Cora O’Gorman: Graphics “Corona Crisis”


  1. At home, the SFCA National Photography Exhibition 2020 can be viewed here: https://www.sixthformcolleges.org/411/at-home
  2. The Sixth Form Colleges Association is the established voice of dedicated sixth form education and the hub of a national network of sixth form providers: https://www.sixthformcolleges.org/
  3. BBC News article, with a selection of work from the exhibition including Dorottya Szabo’s “APARTment”: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-52968564 

A Message from the Principal: College closure and distance learning.

A Message from the Principal: College closure and distance learning.

To all parents 

As you will be aware, yesterday the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, made a statement in the House of Commons that schools and colleges in England will close on Friday until further notice.

I am sure you are still absorbing yesterday’s news. I would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to piece together what the announcements mean for the rest of your son/daughter’s studies and, for U6 students, their grades.

I will be in contact regularly as we receive information, but for now let me clarify what we know and some assumptions that may help guide you.

  • The College will close from Friday at 4.00 for an indefinite amount of time. It may be that U6 students will not return to Xaverian for any more study and L6 students for several weeks or months
  • Teachers have been instructed to continue to work with students and support them via email and other remote methods, and they will do so. 
  • Exams for all A-level courses and GCSE are cancelled, not postponed. No exams will take place this year, and they will not be moved to a later date.
  • U6 Students and those taking GCSEs will receive grades but the precise details of how they will be allocated are not yet known.

Most importantly, we are waiting for clarification on how grades will be awarded. There is a lot of speculation about them being based on mock grades or predicted grades. The truth is we do not yet know, but for now we should assume that the government will use a range of measures; prior attainment at GCSE, teacher grades, work done during the course.

For U6 students it may be a condition of their grade that teachers certify that students have completed the content of the specification, so we encourage them to continue to work at their studies. I know this may feel difficult, but they have worked very hard for 18 months and we ask them to continue to do so.

Distance Learning

We will require students to start their distance learning from Monday 23 March. This is important for both L6 and U6 students.

Whilst distance learning is not a substitute for a teacher in a classroom, we have been busy preparing for this eventuality.  Our teachers have done a lot of work to ensure that our students will be well supported at home, in the following ways:

  • following their normal timetable
  •  access to online resources
  • regular email contact with their teacher
  • regular assessment and feedback

We will shortly email important guidance on how distance learning is going to work for them.  We will email this to parents as well. We have requested that they carefully follow the advice, in order that they can continue to study successfully.  We really appreciate everyone’s support to make distance learning successful.

 The College will work closely with its EHCP and vulnerable students to ensure they remain fully supported.   Pastoral managers are also contactable by college email should students have any concerns.  Our safeguarding lead is also available by email (safeguarding@xaverian.ac.uk) to address any welfare related issues.

As regards access to IT, if any student requires help with their Office365 account, please email ITHelpdesk@xaverian.ac.uk

On the basis of the latest government advice, I cannot say when our college will reopen.  However, please check your email and our website on a regular basis, as this is how we will communicate further information with students and parents.

We appreciate that this continues to be a very anxious time for students. This is a very unique situation for our college, and indeed our country.  Although it remains a time of uncertainty, we are committed to supporting all our students during these very difficult and unprecedented times. 

Many thanks for your ongoing support.

Take care and with very best wishes,

A. Knowles


Update Regarding Course Consultation Evening – Thursday 19th March

Update Regarding Course Consultation Evening – Thursday 19th March

In light of the developing situation around COVID-19, the college has taken the decision to cancel the planned Course Consultation this Thursday 19th March, which was due to take place between 4.30-8pm. Although there are currently no incidents within the college, we feel it is prudent to be cautious for the sake of the well-being of students, families and staff.

Any student who was invited to this event will receive a letter home by Wednesday with confirmation of their place and further details of what we are planning to do in place of this evening.
If you have any queries once you have received and read this letter, you are welcome to email the Admissions Office at admissions@xaverian.ac.uk, or you can call us on 0161 249 2145.

BFI Film Academy

Xaverian Film Studies students Poppy Ellison, Darla Timewell, Caitlin Wilde and Dylan Greenhalgh secured places on the highly prestigious BFI Film Academy which accepts only 16 young people every year. The course is run from Home – Manchester’s multi-million pound Arts Centre, the patron of whom is Danny Boyle – director of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire.

The course is run by film industry professionals and over the last couple of month’s our students have learnt to write, shoot, direct and edit a professional short film.

In fact, the finished film – Mrs. Relik – was so well-received that it is now screening before every showing of The Lighthouse at Home Cinema! Curriculum Leader for Film Studies Phil Drinkwater attended one of these screenings and was extremely happy to report a fantastic reaction from the audience.

Many Xaverian Film students have been accepted onto the course in previous years, including Meltem Yacin who was even offered a job working on the last Star Wars film after her successful time there.

Mr. Drinkwater has praised our student’s motivation and talent – “Each of these student’s are highly focused and passionate about Film. Their enthusiasm for the subject shines through in every single lesson. They’ve already shown they have the drive and knowledge to pursue a career in this industry and I hope their place on the BFI Film Academy allows them a step closer to their dreams.”

Film, Media and Art Trip to NYC

Xaverian Film, Media and Art students jetted off across the Atlantic on our annual trip to New York City.

On arrival at JFK the students were greeted by Betty – a native New Yorker – and given a personalised introduction to the city as the Manhattan skyline emerged on the horizon. After checking in to their midtown hotel, the students made their way to Time Square where they were overwhelmed with the lights and noise and people.

Over the next few days the students got to experience some of the very best film, media and art the ‘city that never sleeps’ has to offer. They went on a hunt through Central Park to find famous movie locations and recreate iconic scenes, got lost in the Museum of Modern Art as a party in honour of Hollywood royalty was being set up, went to the very top of the Empire State Building on a clear, beautiful night to see for miles around, had a behind-the-scenes tour of NBC Studios at Rockerfella Plaza, received a private tour of the Whitney Art Gallery in Greenwich Village whilst it was closed to the public, saw a late-night screening of a film on 42nd Street, went on a TV and Movie Location Tour hosted by a New York actor, sailed aboard the Staten Island Ferry and past the Statue of Liberty before finishing the trip with a trip to a sold-out Broadway show and a slap-up meal in Times Square!

The trip was led by Phil Drinkwater and Emma King, with Vinny Coulson dutifully jumping aboard for an intense few days guiding our 30 students around the five boroughs. “Our students were an absolute credit to the college” Phil Drinkwater said, “Everyone from the airline and hotel staff to the super-cool guides at The Whitney commented on their behaviour and also their dress sense. The students have packed more into 5 days than most people do in a whole year and we truly feel the experience has opened their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities available in New York for creative industries such as Film, Media, Photography, Textiles and Art.”

Here’s to the next one!

Careers Talks

Xaverian College once again hosted its annual Careers Talks event for all our Lower 6th & Level 1&2 students. The objective of the event was to encourage students to explore possibilities in the world of work – to learn more about specific career paths, to gain an understanding of the qualifications required and to be aware of the many options available to them via university or employment.

It was a huge success with over 1000 students attending two of 40 different talks. We welcomed a range of speakers including our partners from the following Universities: Manchester, Salford,  MMU, Huddersfield, UCLAN, Edge Hill, Huddersfield, Staffordshire,  UA92, Dundee.  We also had guest speakers from industry including Balfour Beatty, The NHS, Colliers, Addleshaw Goddard, The Army, the BBC, The Apprenticeship Academy.

Xaverian Ambassadors were on hand to assist in delivering the event by helping our speakers in navigating their way around the campus. Students had an opportunity to sign-up for two  talks from 40 different career sectors – from  the established career areas of medicine, law, teaching, accountancy, to others such as radio journalism and quantity surveying.

At least two of our speakers were ex-students and they relished returning to our college, “I loved it here and it’s great to come back. The students were so keen it was a pleasure to talk”

Our students had this to say about the event:

“I really enjoyed it. The talk I wanted to do was fully booked, so I opted for Quantity Surveying, I knew absolutely nothing about it, but it was so interesting and really opened up my eyes to a possible career.”

“I went to the engineering talk (aeronautical) and it made me realise how I really need to work on my maths to get into Uni to study it.”

“Absolutely fantastic, I stayed after the talk and the speaker gave extensive details and contact details for further information.”

The Careers Department received lots of positive feedback from our students and our guest speakers. Careers Co-ordinator, Tony Payne said, “This event is a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain an insight into some careers they never would have considered and also confirm choices they may be thinking of studying in university. It also highlighted the challenges and opportunities for them – whichever path they choose after Xaverian.  We are fortunate to have such a good network of partners and staff who work hard to support this event.  Thank you all.”