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.”

Updated – Good Luck Eleanor – The Greatest Dancer

Week One: Vale make queuing exciting in their dance performance

It was week one of The Greatest Dancer live shows and representing Squad Oti, Vale took on the queuing challenge. They danced to Arrival of the Birds by the Cinematic Orchestra. The show was themed the “Best of British” and Eleanor; our Xaverian girl and her team, did an amazing job of rising to the challenge and went down well with the studio audience. Their success means that Vale grow through to next week where there will be another double elimination! Our inside sources say that Vale are really excited about week two and have an even better performance lined up than week one! We can’t wait! Check below to see week one’s dance routine.

Auditions: Good Luck Eleanor! 

Xaverian couldn’t be more pleased to support Law, PE and Sociology student Eleanor Norton-Bailey a she embarks on a once in a life time challenge by competing in BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.

The Greatest Dancer sees previously undiscovered dance acts perform live weekly for Cheryl, Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison and Todrick Hall (the “Dance Captains”) and a studio audience in a competition to win £50,000 and a chance to perform on Strictly Come Dancing.

Eleanor is part of a 16 strong dance group based in Stockport who successfully secured a place to the call backs earlier this month. At the call backs “Vale” secured a place on team Oti and will compete in the first of the live shows this Saturday!

If you’d like to see their incredible audition you can watch it below, Or see the interview Eleanor gave to the greatest dancer across the page! Good Luck Eleanor!!

Congratulations to former student Peter Ash – “Best Newcomer” at the NTA’s

Congratulations to former student Peter Ash – “Best Newcomer” at the NTA’s

Here at Xaverian we are always pleased to see a former student be successful. Peter, who studied A-levels in Media, Drama and English at the college from 2001 to 2003 won a 2020 National Television Award for ‘Best Newcomer’ for his role in Coronation Street. After leaving the college Peter secured a place at Glasgow School of Music and Drama and at 18 years old played Darius Fry, the teen twinkle-toes of ITV1’s Footballers’ Wives.

Peter’s Drama teacher said,  “Peter was an instinctive actor who knew everything about his character almost immediately. He showed an impressive level of professionalism and commitment. He has a place next year at the Glasgow School of Music and Drama.” After roles in shows like Casualty, The Royal and Hollyoaks Peter is currently settled in the role of Paul Foreman in Coronation Street for which in won his NTA.

Once again a massive congratulations to Peter on all his success and his win at the NTAs. Well deserved.

ARTiculation – Public Speaking Competition

ARTiculation, the national public speaking competition, which promotes and supports young people to Look, Think and Speak about art, held its North West Regional Final at the Whitworth Art Gallery.  Over 1,000 students enter The ARTiculation Prize in England every year and has reached over 20,000 young people since it was established 12 years ago. The competition  champions students, aged between 16 – 19 regardless of background and experience, providing a platform on which students can develop their confidence and ability to express their opinions, thoughts and ideas, through the arts and public speaking.  The Regional Final saw students aged 16 – 19 deliver a ten minute-presentations about a work of art, architecture or an artefact of their choice in front of an audience and an adjudicator.

Xaverian College entered Charles Lee to the competition.  His presentation was on the topic of architecture, specifically looking at the Proud Trust centre on Sydney Street, which is a post-modernist building that was erected in the 1980s and purpose built to be an LGBT+ centre. It is to this day the only such purpose built community centre designed for the LGBT+ community.

Charles said, “Alongside being mentored by Whitworth workers who helped me with the organisation and academic language of my presentation the actual content of my talk was gathered thanks to the work of architect Emily Crompton, who had access to historical files about the centre and had been researching it in preparation for designing a new centre building, as the old building will be demolished. I read through the documents she sent me, which consisted of newspaper cuttings, surveys conducted by the centre staff and her own research of the pre-construction history of the building such as the difficulty of finding a building site. I also sought advice from workers of the centre who were present for all this history to make sure I wasn’t misrepresenting historical facts.”

Roger Harding, Chief Executive, RECLAIM; and Dr Niccola Shearman, Lecturer in History of Art, University of Manchester adjudicated this event. Following a discussion amongst the panel the winners was announced – our very own Charles Lee!  He will now go through to the Grand Final at Clare College, Cambridge.  Upon awarding Charles with the day’s top prize, the adjudicators praised Charles for his original and bold presentation and social interests.

Charles added “I’m overjoyed that I’ve won as I put masses of effort into putting together my presentation and rehearsing to ensure my performance was the best it could me, so I’m glad my effort has yielded an amazing result. I’m also happy to be talking about a building very near and dear to me, and I’m grateful for this chance to represent an important but frequently overlooked part of Mancunian history. So while I am nervous about the final round and I’m aware the competition is going to be tough I’m just glad I’ve got this far and have a chance to speak about something I’m passionate about. Though of course I hope I win the overall contest.”

Politics, History and Law – Parliament Trip

After a very early train from Manchester, the group of Xaverian Law and History students arrived safely into Euston.

They embarked on a whistle stop walk to Parliament taking in the sights and photo opportunities at Trafalgar Square and Buckingham palace. After a brief food stop for refreshments they arrived at the Parliament Education Centre.  There they went on a guided tour around the Palace of Westminster.

The students were very excited to get to sit and watch a debate in the House of Commons, and see politicians debate the situation in Iran. Students spotted Teresa May, listened to Dominic Raab, Emily thornberry, Jeremy Hunt and Hilary Benn.  After this we went to see the Great Hall where Guy Fawkes was originally sentenced as well as walking past Emily Davison’s suffragette scarf.

The group then took part in a Law and debating workshop. They came up with a controversial debate to discuss which was whether private transport should be banned. Students had to participate with rules of the house, bobbing to contribute and adding right honourable friend in response to their statements. As well as an excellent turn as speaker of the house by Sally Coogan.

After the debate, our MP Afzal Khan came along to answer brilliant questions from the students which was very insightful as he revealed what he really thought of Jeremy Corbyn, who he nominated for Labour leader and who his top 3 candidates for leadership were and why. He also answered a very topical question about knife crime and the causes and solutions.

After the busy events at Parliament the group had a brief visit to the Supreme Court and got to tour the different court rooms as well as the court where Lady Hale passed her recent decision on Johnson’s proroguation of Parliament.

The group then walked onwards to Covent Garden to have a rest and some dinner before the train home.  Xaverian History Teacher, Ciara Lawrence said, “Our students were exceptional and were complimented numerous times due to their enthusiasm and great questions. We arrived back in Manchester very tired but happy with all the sights seen and experiences gained.”

Xaverian Christmas Music Concert

The Xaverian College Christmas Concert was held at the Royal Northern College of Manchester, and was performed in front of a sold-out audience, this also included the top tier balcony which is a remarkable feat for any concert at the RNCM.  The Honourable Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Bishop of Salford Diocese were guests of honour.  The concert consisted of 130 Xaverian students, music staff, peripatetic staff, prospective Xaverian students and some of the college’s finest former pupils.

The evening began with the wonderful Concert Choir, directed and conducted by Ged Marciniak, they set the festive tone for the evening by performing a selection of movements from A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten.  The Concert Choir was accompanied by the wonderful harpist Elinor Nicholson and was also conducted by one of the college’s finest lower 6 students, Alfie Bousfield.

Following this the Flute Group, directed by Jennifer Dyson, performed a selection of movements from The Nutcracker by P. I Tchaikovsky.  Neil Bowden then conducted the college’s brilliant Brass Band in a performance of Born Free by John Barry and Wrath by Peter Graham.

The concert continued with the Clarinet Group performing some folk inspired music composed and arranged by Coen Wolfgram, they performed his klezmer Suite.  The Clarinet Group were directed by Katherine Blumer.

The incredible Xaverian Big Band, directed by Neil Bowden, then performed Conga by Gloria Estefan/Enrique and Smooth Operator by Sade Adu/Ray St. John.  Following the Big Band, Kyran Matthews directed the Jazz Group in a performance of Spain by Chick Corea.

The first half concluded in the Christmas spirit with the college’s String Orchestra performing Corelli’s Christmas Concerto.  The String Orchestra were conducted and directed by Duncan Reid with Pascal Darley and Megan Hindle on solo violin with Andrew Rogers on solo cello.

The second half opened with the vibrant and flamboyant Percussion Group directed by Joe Luckin.  They performed with their usual energetic manner, starting with Clapping Music by Steve Reich followed by Alarm by Brian Blume.

Thomas Hopkinson and Rachel Abbott then directed the Chamber Choir, they set a reflective, spiritual and seasonal mood.  The Chamber Choir have enjoyed a number of exciting performance opportunities in 2019, including premiering the first piece of their programme at Manchester Cathedral in November.  They sang The Parting Shot by Nicola Lefanu, Adam Lay Ybounden by Boris Ord and Nativity Carol by John Rutter.

Before the Orchestra took to the stage the internationally acclaimed and award-winning A4 Brass Quartet performed some well-known Christmas songs. A4 Brass are Xaverian’s professional ensemble in residence.  The quartet comprises of principal players from some of the UK’s top brass bands, including Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery, Brighouse & Rastrick and Foden’s.  With “technical virtuosity in abundance” these four astonishing musicians perform both lyrical and high-octane works, forming a distinctive and new take on chamber music.  They dazzled the audience with Carol of The Bells arranged by Jonathan Bates, Locus Iste by Anton Bruckner arranged by Chris Robertson and Now Bring Us Some Fuguey Pudding arranged by Jonathan Bates.

The Xaverian Orchestra made up of 120 musicians concluded the concert, they are by far the largest 6th form college ensemble in the UK.  Andrew Levendis conducted the ensemble with an ambitious programme of Persian March by Johann Strauss, Game of Thrones arranged Jay Bocook, Music from The Incredibles by Michael Giacchino, the ”1812” Overture by P. I Tchaikovsky and A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson.

To end the evening, the Xaverian Orchestra performed Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride as an encore.

The audience gave 3 standing ovations during the Orchestra’s powerful performance.

On show were the highly acclaimed Xaverian ensembles; performances can be seen and heard via the Xaverian Music Department YouTube Channel.