Reuben Rowbotham Keating

Xaverian students swimming in success

Two Xaverian students, Ben Haughton, previously a student at West Hill School and studying A Levels in Biology, Geography and Psychology and Reuben Rowbotham-Keating, previously a student at Chorlton High School and currently studying Biology, Geography and BTEC Sport, gained outstanding bronze and silver medals at the Arena Lisbon International Meeting on February 11th and 12th 2023. The event was held at the Swimming Complex at the National Sports Center in Jamor, Lisbon and was open to competitors aged 16 and over.

Both students competed in a number of events, with Reuben winning a silver medal in the 400 Individual Medley and four bronze medals, as well as Ben winning bronze medals in the 4×100 Freestyle Relay and 4×100 Medley Relay.

Both students have represented Swim Lancashire and medalled on multiple occasions at Lancashire counties and North-West competitions. They have also competed in multiple British and English National Championships, with Reuben winning a silver medal at last summer’s European Championships for juniors, and Ben winning a gold while competing for Greater Manchester against other swimming associations in the Northwest region. Back in November 2022, Reuben was also named the Junior Sports Achiever of the Year at the Manchester Sports Awards.

Some of their biggest achievements include Ben having won over 150 medals at various galas across the UK and Reuben holding 13 national titles in both short and long-course competitions.

Both students chose Xaverian College due to its close proximity and ease of travel to the Aquatics centre on Oxford Road, with their training starting at 4pm every weekday.

Ben said: “Taking part in swimming competitions is a huge commitment to take on and means that I attend training nine times a week whilst attending College to study A Levels. It’s a lot of hard work but I am still maintaining the high-level grades I achieved last summer.”

“I enjoy the thrill of taking part in swimming competitions and my highlight has been coming out of the Covid lockdown and qualifying for four events at the 2021 British Winter Nationals. My goal is to swim at a high level in national competitions and to continue to reduce my times in the pool. I also intend to take full advantage of all the opportunities open to me as a swimmer and as a student at Xaverian.”

Reuben commented: “When I started at Xaverian I chose BTEC Sport as one of my subjects as this would enable me to understand different sports and the theory behind performance and psychology in sport. During the course, I have found a lot of links between what I am learning and swimming. I’m hoping to compete at a higher level in the future, as well as completing my A Levels this year.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers a large variety of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses, including BTEC Sport, which gives students the opportunity to develop teamwork, interpersonal, leadership and presentation skills. It is also the perfect way to enrich a student’s life with challenges and projects that give real-world experience, the BTEC offers both theory and practical lessons giving students an excellent stepping stone to further study or careers in sport. Visit to find out more.

Ben Haughton
Ben Haughton
Reuben Rowbotham-Keating
Reuben Rowbotham-Keating
TLCMD Masterclass

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Performance Masterclass 2023

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance visit Xaverian College on an annual basis to run performance masterclasses, spending hours coaching A Level Music and BTEC Music Technology students.

Earlier this month, Head of Strings, Professor Nic Pendlebury (viola), led the event with two other senior representatives from the department, Sally Pendlebury (cello) and Lana Trotovšek (violin). The tutors coached the Colleges classical guitar trio, string quartet, trios, and a variety of soloists, including, violin, viola, and harp. After each performance, students received invaluable feedback about the positive aspects of their playing and ensemble skills, and were also given targets to improve posture, communication, phrasing, tone, interpretation and technique.

Nic started the masterclass with a presentation about Trinity Laban, where he talked about the audition process, the amazing opportunities on offer, and the life of a musician at a conservatoire. The three tutors also gave a stunning and inspirational recital, which captivated all staff and students in attendance. The day came to an end with an informal discussion, where the tutors answered questions and shared their knowledge and experiences.  

Oxbridge success for Xaverian College students

Ten outstanding students from Xaverian College have received offers to study at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

Following months of intensive preparation, students recently received the news that they had gained offers of places at universities which have been repeatedly ranked first and second in the UK, and both are currently in the top 10 universities in the world.

Gaining their places was the culmination of significant additional work over two years by the students, who were all part of the College’s specialist ‘Oxbridge Programme’, a unique and tailored programme that prepares students to apply to these universities.

Jake McMeekin, who is currently studying A Levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Politics, said: “The College has been so supportive! Through the Oxbridge Programme, I have had access to specialist advice, guidance and tutors, and in particular, Mr Gibson, who has helped me with practice admissions papers, mock interviews, and so much more.” Jake completed his GCSEs at Chorlton High School and plans to progress to the University of Oxford to study Mathematics and Philosophy later this year.

Laila Al-Terawi, former Albion Academy student, plans to join her brother, and Xaverian Alumni, Tawfik, who is currently studying Medicine at the University of Oxford, later this year to study Biochemistry. Commenting on her experience of applying to Oxbridge, she said: “I did lots of research into the Oxbridge admissions process but ultimately it was the support of the College’s Oxbridge Programme that guided me through it. Our weekly lectures and keep-in-touch meetings helped me further understand what the universities were looking for and how to write and structure my personal statement. I was given lots of advice to pursue extracurricular activities linked to the subject I wanted to study, which helped me demonstrate genuine interest and passion. There wasn’t a moment when I couldn’t access the support I needed – the College was there every step of the way!”

All students were delighted to receive their offers and are excited about the prospect of meeting new people passionate about their subjects and learning from the universities’ expert lecturers.  

Syed Hussain and Hamza Hagi, who are studying A Levels in Chemistry, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics, both received offers to study Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, commented: “We’re really looking forward to moving to a new city, meeting other like-minded people and immersing ourselves in the exciting innovation currently taking place with the Engineering Science department.”

Other students with offers to study at the University of Oxford include:

  • Gulliver Hubbard, English and French
  • Annabeth Brown, History
  • Amelia Chapman-Nisar, Classics
  • Bradley Williams, Chemistry

Two of the ten students, James Allen and Ciara Avis, have successfully gained offers to study at the University of Cambridge.

James’ decision to apply to the University of Cambridge came about after he had the chance to see the University’s Colleges on Open Day and he saw how friendly and welcoming the staff and lecturers were and how enthusiastically they promoted their subjects. James is following his passion for writing and directing for theatre and film by applying for a Degree in English. James said: “Xaverian has a fantastic reputation, especially the Music and Drama & Theatre departments, and that’s what attracted me to apply. I have always loved drama and the opportunities to perform at College are endless. I help to run a theatre company, Kitsch Theatre, outside of College that I have become really passionate about, which is what led me to apply to study English at Cambridge.”

Former Loreto High School student, Ciara, chose A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths and has taken advantage of the enrichment opportunities offered by the College to pursue her passion for music and art. Ciara commented: “I love studying my A Levels but taking part in enrichment allows me to explore my interests outside of science to meet other like-minded people to produce art and perform music. You can perform with almost all types of instruments and singing styles, and you even get to take part in College music concerts at the Royal Northern College of Music. There is a really inspiring and supportive community at Xaverian and I have to say my experience has been complete!”

Tony Knowles, Principal, said: “It’s such an exciting time of year, as our students’ offers start to come in and once again they have done incredibly well to secure such highly competitive offers on such a diverse range of courses. The College encourages all students to realise their full potential, and the dedication and ambition of our students is exceptional. We are all incredibly proud.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers exciting opportunities to over 2800 students. To find out more, visit – Discover Your Future!

Xaverian Fashionista is a TikTok Sensation

Year 13 Student, Jasmine Shum, has gained an impressive profile of over 60,000 followers after setting up and running her own TikTok fashion account, alongside studying a BTEC Extended Diploma in Business at Xaverian College.

Jasmine uses the account to post about fashion trends and to communicate her insights and thoughts on these. She started creating TikToks during the first Covid lockdown as way to make use of her spare time and get back into having a presence on a social media platform after having previously run a business on Instagram. Jasmine said: I’ve had a few videos reach views in the millions, however I’m quite lucky that my growth on the platform has always been more steady rather than in rapid growth spurts, which can be unsustainable as a creator in the long term. When I started posting more fashion-focused content I definitely saw an increase in engagement.”

Jasmine chose to study the Business course at Xaverian as it offered her the opportunity to gain a broad range of skills that she could apply to the real world. She also wanted to be in a college that was near to the city centre and all the opportunities that would open up to her. Jasmine commented: “I love my Business course because it involves so many different things such as being creative, strategic and innovative. Every lesson is so different and I’m constantly learning new things and seeing how they apply to real-life current affairs.

“I remember my first day at Xaverian, I didn’t know a single person but during the day I spoke to a lot of students and made friends that I still have to this day. I remember thinking that everyone would already have their friendship groups from high school and no one would make an effort to talk to me, but in reality everyone was so nice and that first day really set the tone for the rest of the year.”

Jasmine is coming towards the end of her two years at Xaverian and has packed an incredible amount into her time at the College. She has learnt a range of new skills, including networking, leadership and management, negotiation, interpersonal skills, and as Jasmine admits herself: “The most important skill is believing in and backing myself. Ultimately the only person who can give you what you want is you and if you don’t fully believe in yourself, then why should you expect others to? A lot of my drive comes from within, and I’ve always been extremely ambitious and set on achieving what I set out to do. I also gain inspiration from women in business online, such as Grace Beverley and Krissy Cela, who definitely help inspire and encourage me to pursue as many opportunities as I can so that I can expand my knowledge and experience.”

Jasmine has her sights set on a Degree Apprenticeship in Marketing and PR to start building up a career within the industry, whilst also continuing to grow her social media presence. Jasmine said: “I’ve had lots of help preparing for interviews and assessment centres from the amazing Careers Team at the College who have really helped me to take my next steps. As well as working towards having my own business again, I’d love to combine my passion for social media and marketing to create a digital platform that will help support young people with all things mental health and well-being, as this is something that is extremely important and personal to me.”

“I would advise other students to listen to advice from others but prioritise your own wants and needs and explore the opportunities that you are actually passionate about. Put you first, prioritise your own mental health and well-being, interests and passions. You can’t show up for others and succeed in your studies and other areas of your life unless you prioritise and show up for yourself first.”

As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels, and several BTEC courses that can be studied as standalone subjects or combined with A Levels. Visit to find out more.

Harvey Broughton

Degree Apprenticeships: The ideal route to a dream career?

National Careers Week, from 6-10 March 2023, is upon us this and the week is a chance to reflect and celebrate the success our students have in starting their dream careers. The theme for this year is ‘Together’ and at Xaverian College our Careers Team works hard to support our students in accessing the most up-to-date careers information available so they can make informed decisions on their next steps.

Harvey Broughton, Year 13 Xaverian student from Urmston, is one of our many success stories with two offers of Degree Apprenticeships at major global accounting firms. During his first year at Xaverian, Harvey accessed careers support to find out the options that were available to him and realised there are many options for students of his age. Xaverian College students typically progress to Degree courses at university, however Harvey has decided to pursue a different route to reach his destination, that of Degree Apprenticeships.

Whilst at school, Harvey was particularly interested in Maths and enjoyed the challenge of problem-solving using numbers, so this was an area he was keen to continue with at Xaverian. After initially speaking to the Careers Team about his personal statement, he began talking to them about accountancy summer placements to find out more about the industry sector and career routes with the different companies. Harvey commented: “These are a chance for the company to communicate who they are and what they do. You also do some online problem-solving and accounting activities, and you meet other people who also want to follow the same route. I spent a week each at PwC and Deloitte and both really helped me to focus my mind on which direction to take within accountancy and the career opportunities available by following a Degree Apprenticeship.

“The next step was to apply, and generally you can choose to go into audit, tax, consultancy and technology, but as tax stood out to me on the one-week placements, I decided the majority of my applications would be for tax Apprenticeships. After researching further, a shortlist of six companies stood out as being the ones I wanted to apply for.”

The Careers Team supported Harvey through the application process and coached him through the application stages of writing the application, an online video interview, group activity sessions and final interviews. They helped him find videos and websites giving advice on how to approach the different stages, how to make the best impression, and how to approach the final interview with senior staff at the companies. Harvey said: “All the effort was worth it as I have received two offers of an Apprenticeship with a Level 7 in Taxation with a Chartered Accountant qualification and Chartered Tax Advisor, also at Level 7. I’ve been to the Careers Team so many times for help and they’ve always been supportive, and I doubt I could have done it without them.

“My interest in accounting was sparked by my cousin, who works for Deloitte, and he’s involved in lots of varied problem-solving activities with different organisations, and even travels abroad as part of his job role. I love using maths and would really relish using my skills to troubleshoot and help organisations improve their business performance.

“I like the idea of a university lifestyle but I want to have the responsibility that comes with working for an employer and knowing what I am doing day-to-day isn’t just studying and it’s making a difference to the company and clients that I am working for. The Degree Apprenticeship will get me to the same place as university but I will also be gaining experience alongside as I am doing it.

Joanne Leach, Careers Manager at Xaverian, supported Harvey through the process of applying to the different accounting companies. She said: “University is the typical destination choice for students after leaving Xaverian, however choosing a Degree Apprenticeship can be an excellent route for students to achieve their career ambitions, whilst achieving high-level qualifications at the same time. It’s been a pleasure to support Harvey through the process and he has worked incredibly hard to achieve the offers of places on two Degree Apprenticeship programmes, and we would encourage other students to consider the same route as Harvey.”

If students are considering options other than university, the Careers Team here at Xaverian has lots of experience and resources to help students make informed decisions and make the right choice about their next steps.

Bringing the ancient past to life

Ancient History and Classical Civilisation students recently visited the University of Warwick to attend the University’s biggest outreach event, Warwick Ancient Drama Festival.

Staff and students from the University collaborate on producing a play from the ancient past, accompanied by lectures and workshops, and each year over 560 students from across the UK are invited to attend.

The festival provides an opportunity for students to experience ancient comedy whilst enhancing their knowledge to support their GCSE and A Level study.

Reflecting on the visit, Charlie Cooke, who is currently studying A Levels in Ancient History, Classical Civilisation and Fine Art at Xaverian, said: “The staff and students put 110% into the performance, which was truly amazing. Not only was it accurate, but it was also hilarious and refreshing to watch after some complex and interesting lectures, delivered by scholars of Greek drama.”

Matilda Crabbe, former Parrs Wood High School student, added: “The highlight of the visit was the performance of ‘The Women of the Assembly’ by Aristophanes, it was so entertaining and Professor Michael Scott’s lecture on ‘The historical context of Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen’ really set the scene. It was a great opportunity to find out more about University and Classics Degrees, whilst creating fun memories with friends old and new!”

Will Dearnaley, Classical Civilisation and Ancient History Teacher at Xaverian College, commented: “We’re committed to enriching students’ knowledge outside of the classroom and each year, as a department, we create a range of fantastic trips and visits that are fun, interesting and educational, to help give students a really fulfilling College experience.

“Our visit to the University of Warwick was invaluable. Alongside the fantastic performances, lectures and workshops, students also had the opportunity to explore the University and get a real feel for life at Warwick.”

If you love thinking deeply about the world around us and are fascinated by culture, then Ancient History and Classical Civilisation are courses you’ll find irresistible. Share your observations, opinions and interests, alongside developing essential critical and creative thinking skills.  

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.

Remsha Sultana

Amazing Apprentice, Remsha Sultana

National Apprenticeship Week, 6-12 February 2023, brings together the entire apprenticeship community to celebrate everything that is amazing about apprenticeships. The theme for this year is ‘Skills for Life’ and in recent years, Xaverian College has been celebrating the success of many students that have progressed to sought-after Higher and Degree-Level Apprenticeships.

Remsha Sultana from the ‘Class of 2019’ is a former student of Xaverian who followed the Apprentice route as way into the world of Accounting and Taxation. After studying A Levels in Accounting, Economics and Mathematics during her two years at the College, she commented: “It’s hard to pick a favourite subject but I enjoyed Accounting and Economics equally and my teachers in both were amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed the friendly environment and the support we had with our transition from high school. The focus was always on working towards our career goals, and introducing us to the various pathways we could follow.

Remsha Sultana
Amazing Apprentice, Remsha Sultana
High School: St Peter’s RC High School, Company: PwC UK Management Consultants, Xaverian College Subjects: Accounting A Level, Economics A Level, Mathematics A Level

Remsha always knew she wanted to undertake an Apprenticeship in the corporate world after visiting accountants, Ernst & Young (EY), whilst at High School in Year 10 and hearing about the career opportunities at the firm. She said: “During Year 12, I heard about the summer programmes EY and PwC UK had to offer, so I applied to both and fortunately was given the offer to complete both. This provided me with an insight into the world of management accounting and confirmed that it would be something I wanted to pursue in the future.”

Remsha joined PwC UK on the Tax School Leaver Programme and this has given her the opportunity to gain valuable on-the-job experience whilst studying towards professional qualifications from ATT, CTA and ACCA. Remsha commented: “I started as a Senior Associate in the Innovation and Capital Incentives Team, which is a specialist team within Corporate Tax, helping clients submit their research and development claims. My responsibilities revolve around maintaining client relationships, working on technical deliverables and project management.”

Being part of the Apprenticeship has enabled Remsha to build her network of contacts and get a head start in building her corporate portfolio. In the future, she hopes to specialise in Research and Development and progress to more senior roles at PwC UK. She added: “I’m thankful that I took the opportunity to explore the various pathways available after A Levels, and I’m extremely thankful to my teachers at Xaverian for pushing me to do my best and motivating me to achieve my goals. I am more confident now about my future career, having made great networks and relationships within PwC UK. I look forward to the many more great experiences and realising the plans I have for the future!”

Ellie Rafferty

Amazing Apprentice, Ellie Rafferty

National Apprenticeship Week, 6-12 February 2023, brings together the entire apprenticeship community to celebrate everything that is amazing about apprenticeships. The theme for this year is ‘Skills for Life’ and in recent years, Xaverian College has been celebrating the success of many students that have progressed to sought-after Higher and Degree-Level Apprenticeships.

Xaverian alumni, Ellie Rafferty from Stockport, studied A Levels in Chemistry and Psychology and a CTEC single award in Health and Social Care and completed in June 2022, right before starting her Apprenticeship with Autotrader.

Ellie Rafferty
Amazing Apprentice, Ellie Rafferty
High School: Priestnall High School, Company: Autotrader, Xaverian College Subjects: Chemistry A Level, Health and Social Care CTEC Single Award, Psychology A Level

Ellie attended open days for many different colleges to see what options were available and eventually decided on Xaverian, she commented: “A lot of my friends were going to Xaverian and that is naturally a big decider for a lot of people. I made my decision after speaking to the Pastoral Team who were very reassuring about the support I would receive, and it turned out to be true – I received lots of support from them when I needed it.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere of being on-Campus and also the time I spent making new friends and meeting new people. My favourite subject was Psychology, but I never saw myself taking any of my subjects further. Therefore, when I was looking for Apprenticeships, I was very open-minded as to what the job would entail.“

Ellie chose to follow a Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship with Autotrader, instead of going to university because of the benefits associated with an Apprenticeship, such as working for an employer alongside gaining related higher-education qualifications. Ellie said: “I spoke to people that I know are at university or have graduated to find out more about their experiences. After this, I realised university wasn’t for me, so naturally I started looking for jobs and the Apprenticeship at Autotrader really caught my eye. I undertook research to gain honest opinions of the business and the job role of Account Manager to get an idea of where the qualification would take me, in what industry and on what salary.

“My role in Autotrader is in Business-to-Business (B2B) sales. I have a base of around 80 car dealerships, and I contact these on a regular basis to help them see value in working with our business to increase their sales. I work with my clients to make recommendations on improving the quality of their adverts/stock and their sales approach to maximise their impact in the marketplace. I also assist my customers with general technical/knowledge queries.”

Ellie plans to continue working at Autotrader and progress to an Account Director role, which is a more senior version of the current training she is undertaking. Ellie commented: “I’m so excited for the future and can’t wait to see where my career takes me. I am honestly very proud of myself for completing College and now being successful in my Apprenticeship with Autotrader, and how much my confidence has grown during this time.”

Lee Jackson

Apprenticeships – The Secret’s Out!

National Apprenticeship Week, 6-12 February 2023, brings together the entire apprenticeship community to celebrate everything that is amazing about apprenticeships. The theme for this year is ‘Skills for Life’ and in recent years, Xaverian College has been celebrating the success of many students that have progressed to sought-after Higher and Degree-Level Apprenticeships.

Lee Jackson has recently joined Xaverian as a Careers Advisor and Lee is at the front line of advising students on their future direction. He has been working as a Careers Advisor for over 20 years and has even taken his own advice and changed career briefly to leave careers advice and work in the air conditioning trade. Lee said: “In 2017 I had a career break to work as a HVAC/Commercial Gas Engineer. It was a massive challenge and I succeeded however, I missed working with people so came back to career guidance in 2019.”

Lee has worked as a Careers Advisor in education and in the community working with those aged from 12 years up to and including adults, but mainly with people aged 12-25 years. In Lee’s current role as Careers Advisor at Xaverian, he advises students on the wide range of options open to them such as university, training schemes, routes to careers and Apprenticeships.

Lee said: “Apprenticeships are an ideal option for those looking to gain qualifications from Level 2 to Level 7, but also for Xaverian students who are wishing to gain Higher and Degree-Level qualifications but for whom starting their career is the no. 1 priority. Our expert team of Careers Advisors can signpost students to many Apprenticeship opportunities being offered by employers and the excellent prospects they offer for future career development.”

Lee’s ‘Top Tips’ for gaining an Apprenticeship are as follows:

Making an Application

  • Add the closing date to your calendar and send your application in on time
  • If the application includes specific questions, make sure you read these clearly and answer them correctly
  • Double check you have provided all the information requested before you send it

Writing your CV

  • Usually CVs are no more than two sides of A4 paper
  • Tailor your CV to the vacancy and include your most relevant skills for the specific vacancy
  • Pay attention to detail and double check your punctuation and grammar 

The Interview

  • Research the company 
  • Prepare answers to some questions you know you will be asked such as “Why would you like this Apprenticeship?” and “What skills can you bring to the role?”
  • Ask them questions too, whether it is “What would a typical day look like?” or “What is your favourite part of working at the company?”

Lee continued: “Even after all these years, I get immense enjoyment in helping people. Careers guidance is about careers but more importantly it is about the skills to navigate life and the pursuit of knowing oneself. For these reasons, it is constantly changing and moving with or ahead of the times, it keeps me on my toes and it never gets boring.

“My advice to others is research all the options available to you and keep an open mind as you never know where your future carer could take you. Apprenticeships have lots to offer and they could be the route to fulfilling careers for many people who are unsure of their next steps in life.”

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 to find out more.

Molly Blackall

From Xaverian College student to reporting on humanitarian rescues on the Mediterranean Sea

Molly Blackall is a Xaverian Alumni from the ‘Class of 2016’ who studied A Levels in History, English Literature and French and an AS Level in Drama and Theatre. After completing her A Levels and travelling with some Xaverian friends, Molly went to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to study International Relations and History. Following this, she completed a Master’s Degree in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London.

Former Chorlton High School student, Molly, started her career working for ‘The Guardian’ as a Freelance Journalist, and then joined ‘i Newspaper’ as a Breaking News Reporter, and now works as Global Affairs Correspondent for the same newspaper. Molly said: “I hadn’t always wanted to work in the media, although I always knew I wanted to do something linked to politics, human rights, and global issues like conflict and humanitarian crises. For me, journalism combined those things with my love of writing. The great thing about my job is I get the opportunity to talk to interesting people, which is something I feel very lucky to be able to do. I spent a lot of time at Xaverian and university engaged in politics and protesting nearly everything I felt needed to be protested! I found that journalism was an amazing way to spotlight the issues I cared about and bring them to a wider audience. I feel very privileged to have a platform where I can raise issues and, hopefully, make people listen and care.”

Whilst working at the ‘i Newspaper’ an opportunity came Molly’s way, through her work with humanitarian organisations, that was unexpected and meant that she would be reporting on the front line of rescuing migrants on boats sailing to Europe. She commented: “I had certainly never done anything like that before, and in truth I don’t think anything can really prepare you. I had travelled to Calais to report on Ukrainian refugees trying to get to the UK, but nothing on this scale or intensity.”

Before taking part in the rescue missions, Molly was trained in First Aid techniques and took part in practice rescues using dummies on small boats in a harbour. She also learned about the mental health support that would be needed for the people rescued. Molly eventually joined the crew of the ‘Ocean Viking’ humanitarian ship for three weeks, reporting on the patrol as crew took shifts looking for boats with migrants to rescue. Molly said: “You had to keep your radios on constantly, even overnight, and we would get notified that a boat had been detected and the ship was heading towards it. But when the rescue actually took place, we usually had very little warning. The radio would crackle saying: “All crew, all crew, all crew, ready for rescue”. You had to drop what you were doing, rush up and put on your rescue gear in just a couple of minutes, before taking your position on the Rhibs and speeding off to carry out the rescues. Physically it’s quite exhausting and, emotionally, it could also be very intense.”

Molly witnessed three rescues and in total the ship rescued 387 people from five rescue missions. Once rescued, the people were taken to Italy, and Molly spent this time interviewing the ship’s crew and dozens of the rescued migrants.

Video: The i Paper

Molly commented: “Xaverian was certainly an important time in shaping my identity and interests. My lessons, in particular, History learning about things like the Vietnam War, helped drive my passion for the type of things I write about today. Learning French also enabled me to do interviews with French speakers on the ship. I was lucky enough to have some wonderful teachers, who really nurtured my interests and were hugely supportive when I applied to university. I also met amazing friends who I’m still in touch with today.

“My advice to current students is try everything and learn as much as you can outside of the classroom as well as in the classroom. You’ll find things that really drive you, and in my case, those interests have been integral to my career.”

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. Applications are still open for our A Level and Applied courses starting in September 2023. Visit to find out more.

Photo: Molly Blackall