Developing Digital Across The Community

The importance of digital skills and access to technology has never been more apparent than it is today and Cheshire’s largest provider of post-16 education, Cheshire College – South & West is on a mission to support the community with their new five-year project, ‘The Digital Hub’. 

Designed specifically to boost digital skills, enhance career pathways and develop confidence, The Digital Hub project is set to benefit further-education learners, schoolchildren, businesses and the wider community with increased access to technology. 

Running until 2025, The Digital Hub comprises of three main strands, ‘Digital Doorstep’, ‘Project 4.0’ and STREAM’, and is being delivered in collaboration with Warrington and Vale Royal College, UTC Warrington and several local businesses including Code Nation and Virtalis. 

Karen Roberts, Project Lead and Assistant Principal – Apprenticeship and Employer Engagement, commented: “I am delighted that the Cheshire College – South & West is able to facilitate access to new technology, in order to empower businesses and participants alike to gain confidence in digital applications. 

“Innovation is at the heart of our ambitions and working closely with various stakeholders, we are driven and committed to upskilling and reskilling existing workforces.”

Clare Hayward MBE, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP said: “The new Digital Hub has the potential to be truly transformative, the focus is on elevating the skills and work prospects of thousands of young people in Cheshire and Warrington.

“The Hub, and the new Immersive Design Lab which has just opened at Cheshire College, are part of a £5m investment in digital skills across the region, this investment will engage with more than 50,000 students and 3,000 businesses to ensure that employers can access the work-ready talent they need to drive innovation in their businesses.”

The first strand of the project, Digital Doorstep, aims to deliver skills and career pathways in additive manufacturing and Virtual and Augmented Reality through the use of portable, entry level equipment in local schools, colleges and businesses.

Stage one of Digital Doorstop has seen Cheshire College learners designing and prototyping life-size 3D printed robots which, once finalised, will be taken to local schools for children to develop their digital skills in coding and virtual reality. 

Over the five-year project, it is expected that over 50,000 learners will benefit from access to the equipment, inspiring more young people than ever to progress onto higher-level courses and skilled employment.

The second strand of The Digital Hub, Project 4.0, focuses on digital skills in the workplace with an emphasis on improving Advanced Manufacturing Skills to expand digital infrastructures, upskill and reskill existing workforces and promote digital as a career choice. 

The newest project strand, ‘Stream’, facilitates access to technology within community organisations to raise awareness and develop confidence in digital applications. Equipment includes laptops, smart mobile phones and live streaming systems and there has been lots of activity to date with Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester and the Department for Work and Pensions. 

To find out more about The Digital Hub, email or call 01270 654638 (Crewe Campus) / 01244 656455 (Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses). 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit

Construction learners create a recipe for success with Cheshire Chef

Cookery and construction aren’t two trades you typically see together, but for Cheshire College – South & West and Harthill Cookery School they make the perfect pairing. Construction learners at Cheshire’s largest College have been putting into practice new skills they’ve learnt in the classroom to support the renovation works required for highly acclaimed Chef, Brian Mellor’s latest venture.  

Transforming a derelict building into a fully functional pub restaurant with overnight accommodation is no mean feat and learners at Cheshire College have been given a true insight to life on a construction site with the launch of live classroom learning.  

Former Cheshire College – South & West Hospitality and Catering learner and Founder of Harthill Cookery School Brian Mellor approached the College’s Construction & The Built Environment Department to give learners a work experience opportunity like no other as he works with his partners to re-open The Bear & Ragged Staff in Tattenhall, Chester.  

Live classroom learning launched in September 2020 to support construction learners in their surveying and sustainability modules and since this time they have gone on to design pizza ovens, vegetable planters, green walls, external shelters, car parks and other groundworks. 

Silke Novak, Construction Tutor at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “We are delighted to be working with Brian and his team on this new renovation project. This is a fantastic opportunity for our learners who have been able to go visit the site, soak up the information in real-time and get a true feel for working life in the construction industry. 

“Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place before the holidays, learners were only able to carry out surveying outside and are now planning specific aspects of the build which we hope we’ll be able to deliver over the next couple of months.” 

Whilst still enhancing their knowledge of industry techniques, learners can design and cost plans but are only able to construct low-risk aspects of the build such as the outdoor shelters which are proving to be vital within the hospitality industry at the moment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

Level 3 Construction learner, Aaran Edwards who is working on the project, commented: “Being able to see the building as it’s renovated is really good as it helps me recognise all the little things that go on in a new structure that many people wouldn’t notice. Having an involvement in designing items for the new building is also helping me expand my knowledge and get a further understanding on the many things that take place on the site.” 

All learners involved in the project will be presenting their final designs and cost proposals to the directors at The Bear and Ragged Staff in February and once approved will work in partnership with local construction companies to bring concepts to life. The pub will also be the new home of the cookery school and the project is due to open this summer.  

Brian Mellor said: “Having attended Cheshire College in the 1980s I’ve always tried to support current learners where possible in any new projects or provide work experience opportunities and I was really excited to get them involved in the renovation works for The Bear & Ragged Staff. 

“All the learners who visited the site during the first term were so enthusiastic about the project which was fantastic to see. We are looking forward to reading their proposals next month and seeing their visions come to life over the course of the spring and summer terms.” 

As well as full-time courses within the Construction & The Built Environment Department including bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, carpentry and electrical installations, from September 2021 Cheshire College – South & West will be the only College in Cheshire to offer T Levels in Construction. Designed with employers to help young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to thrive in the workplace. T Levels are a new two-year qualification for 16-19-year-olds equivalent to three A Levels and comprise of 20% on-the-job experience. 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit 

Register now for Cheshire College’s upcoming Virtual Open Day

Cheshire’s largest provider of post-16 education is hosting their first Virtual Open Day of 2021 this month to give local learners an opportunity to discover what College life is like. Cheshire College – South & West’s Virtual Open Day has been designed to provide prospective learners with all the information they need to know about the College in a safe and secure way.

Taking place throughout Monday 25 January 2021, Virtual Open Day attendees will be able to chat to subject specialists, find out more about courses and facilities, get guidance on applications, funding and travel, as well as take part in a live question and answer session designed to give a flavour of College life.

Cheshire College – South & West, which is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, has three main Campuses in Crewe, Ellesmere Port and Chester, and attending a Virtual Open Day is not much different to being on one of the College’s sites.

18-year-old Briony Bowler from Crewe, joined the College after completing her GCSEs at Madeley High School and said: “I chose to study A Levels at the College after visiting an open evening. The variety of options available was incredible and all of the staff were really passionate and enthusiastic. That combined with the outstanding facilities and fantastic support meant it was the perfect place to be! 

“Whilst studying at the College I was able to make new friends, develop my knowledge and put my skills into practice through various experiences. I have just started studying Physical Geography and Geology at Keele University and so far, it has been just as amazing!” 

The College typically welcomes hundreds of visitors to its open events throughout the year to find out more about the range of full-time, part-time and distance learning opportunities available. 

Whether considering next steps after school, preparing to learn additional skills, embarking on a career change or simply looking to try something different – there has never been a better time to ‘Get In, Stand Out’. 

Click here to secure your place today.

Chester artist’s collection showcased at Cheshire College

Cheshire College – South & West is now displaying Chester-based creative Nicky Thompson’s artwork which features iconic city landmarks including the Groves, Eastgate Clock, Chester Racecourse and Chester Zoo. 

The ‘Made in Chester’ artwork series, which was originally exhibited at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, now has a permanent home at Cheshire College’s Chester Campus in Handbridge after Nicky put a call out on social media in a bid to keep the collection together instead of selling the individual pieces separately. 

Inspired by great poster artists of the early 20th century, the collection will now take on a new lease of life encouraging the next generation of local creatives to look to their local surroundings when drawing inspiration. 

Paul Browne, Assistant Director of Visual and Performance Arts at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “We’re extremely honoured that Nicky selected the College to display his Chester poster series. The ‘Made in Chester’ artwork has been hugely successful within the city and further afield and to now have it permanently displayed at Cheshire College is a real privilege. 

“We launched the collection with our Art and Design School learners late last year and the reaction has been more than we could have imagined. Learners have loved seeing the city they study in come to life in a new and interesting way through Nicky’s art, with many commenting on the striking colours and how the pieces instantly build a connection between the viewer and artist through a shared appreciation of Chester.”

Visual Art learners at Cheshire College – South & West admiring the ‘Made in Chester’ collection now on display at the Chester Campus

Nicky commented: “My mum went to art school in Handbridge in the 1960s so for me, it felt like a very natural home for the pieces to be. I hope the learners enjoy seeing the work on display and seeing the city through my eyes. Being an art student is a wonderful thing – a time to be truly creative and experimental, free from commercial constraints.

“I very much look forward to attending future shows and exhibitions at Cheshire College when they begin again. Inspiration, I find, is very much a two-way street.”

Cheshire College – South & West’s Visual Arts department offers a range of courses for learners to develop and explore their creative skills through a variety of artistic practices, from Fine Art, Graphic Design, Photography and Product Design to Ceramics, Fashion and Textile Design, Jewellery Design, and Sculpture and Printmaking.

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit

Supporting the workforce of the future

The only college in Cheshire set to fast-track learners’ careers with the next level qualification is working with local businesses to support the workforce of the future. Cheshire College – South & West was selected by the Government to offer T Levels, a new two-year qualification for 16-19-year-olds which comprises of 20% on-the-job experience.  

Equivalent to three A Levels, T Levels have been designed with employers to help young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to thrive in the workplace. At the heart of each course is a 45-day work placement to give learners vital experience within their chosen industry, whilst also providing employers early sight of new talent coming through.  

Mark Parsons, Assistant Principal Curriculum at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “The College views work placements as an integral part of a learner’s education. They are a great way for them to try out their future career path, gain experience, build confidence and will help them stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs.” 

“There are also numerous benefits for the employer. Learners will be able to provide a fresh and innovative perspective and help grow the business through the completion of day-to-day tasks and longer-term projects. Providing a work placement for a young person also helps extend the reach of the brand.  

“Work placements are an integral part of T Levels and we continue to develop our provision in partnership with employers to ensure we are always adapting to the skills industry need and I am delighted that so many of our partners continue to support the College.” 

Local employers taking part in the industry placement as part of T Levels are expected to see a boost in their recruitment, improved innovation, greater productivity and increased social benefits. Industry placements can be offered as a block, series of blocks, day release or a mixture of both, depending on what works best for the employer, the training provider and the learner.  

From September 2021, Cheshire College – South & West will be offering T Levels in Construction, Digital, Science & Health, and Education & Childcare. In addition, from September 2022, the College will be adding the following courses to their offering: 

  • Management and Administration 
  • Design and Development 
  • Manufacturing, Processing and Control Maintenance, Installation and Repair  

If you would like to know more about T Level industry placements, please email or call 01270 654654 (Crewe Campus) / 01244 656555 (Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses). 

If you would like to know more about studying T Levels at Cheshire College – South & West visit 

T Levels

‘New Kids on the Kop’ at Cheshire College

Cheshire College – South & West is celebrating another term of fantastic academic achievements, with learners securing leading roles in national campaigns, successfully achieving university scholarships, launching their own businesses and much more.  

Kyle Owen, a 24-year-old rapper from Ellesmere Port and Level 5 Creative Media Production learner at Cheshire College – South & West, is just one of the young creators and innovators who stands on the cusp of greatness heralding a new dawn for the region.  

Kyle, also known by his artist name That’s Juvey, was recently selected by Liverpool Football Club and JD Sports to promote the team’s new kit ahead of the season in the ‘New Kids on the Kop’ campaign. It didn’t stop there for Kyle though as his music then landed him on the soundtrack of LFCs new documentary, released in November, featuring alongside American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey.  

Kyle commented: “I have been writing and recording music for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to my dad’s scouse house records, it all stemmed from there.  

“I believe in spirits — they write the lyrics. It takes the pressure off me. It’s what the Greeks believed in, the nine muses who allowed the artists to create and I believe I’m just the conduit. Where I’m from bleeds out through the rhythms — the sounds and the accent, it’s a working-class rhythm. 

“I joined the College in September 2020 and have enjoyed focusing on perfecting my storytelling and film-making. The tutors are experts, and the support we receive is absolutely phenomenal. I can’t wait to finish and apply everything I have learnt to my career.” 

Kyle Owen, Level 5 Creative Media Production learner, featured in the ‘New Kids on the Kop’ campaign

Another exceptional learner is Jamie Long who studied A Level English Language alongside BTEC Business at the College’s Crewe Campus. Jamie has recently been awarded a High Achievers Scholarship at Edge Hill University, which recognises outstanding grades of at least 144 UCAS Tariff points in A Level or BTEC examinations. 

Jamie is currently studying Secondary English Education with QTS at university and has hopes to begin his career as a secondary school English teacher upon graduating. However, he believes none of this would have been possible without the help and guidance from staff at Cheshire College – South & West.  

“The support I received from the College was fantastic. I struggled at first balancing the work for my A Levels with my first year BTEC, but my Personal Development Tutor and course lead developed personalised plans alongside me and my parents to help me with my workload. If it wasn’t for their help and one-on-one support, I would have really struggled to gain the results I did and ultimately get offers from the universities I applied to.  

“I would not be at university now if it wasn’t for everything Cheshire College did for me and I personally believe you will not find the level of passion shown by staff from anywhere else!” 

As part of the High Achievers Scholarship, Jamie will receive £1,000 paid in two equal instalments during his first year of study to help support his tuition.  

In August 2020, Charlotte Bradley, Level 3 Hairdressing Apprenticeship Alumni, officially opened her own salon, CHB Studios Ltd, in Chester. Here’s what she had to say:  

“I chose to study an Apprenticeship after completing my Year 10 Work Experience. I was with the salon for two weeks and on my last day they offered me a part-time role.”  

“The hands-on approach to learning was perfect for me. It really developed my independence and it was great that I was earning as well!   

“The College were really supportive the entire time I was there. They regularly visited me in the workplace and encouraged me to take every opportunity. The tutors were fantastic too, they are experts in their industry, which has helped me refine my knowledge and skills.  

“I can’t wait to see what the future holds… more success I hope!” 

Jordan Swift, Director of Marketing and School Partnerships, said: “We are passionate about ensuring learners leave with industry relevant skills so that they have the best start to their career, whichever pathway they choose.  

“It has been fantastic to see our learners successfully progress onto various destinations. We’re extremely proud of their success and can’t wait to see what the rest of the academic year will bring!” 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit 

£30m training programme delivered in partnership with Cheshire College to take local businesses to the next level

A new £30m training programme is being delivered in partnership with Cheshire College – South & West to support local businesses and develop their employees’ digital skills. ‘Accelerate’ has been designed for businesses to reskill and upskill their workforce, with an emphasis on adopting new technologies and processes for greater efficiency. 

Launched by The Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub, The Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the University of Chester in May, the programme has been partly funded by the European Social Fund. 

Benefitting both individual employees and employers, over the last several months businesses across the region have signed up to the Accelerate programme, taking place across Cheshire College’s three Campuses, to take advantage of the opportunity to develop new technologies, increase productivity and remain competitive.  

Karen Roberts, Assistant Principal – Employer Engagement and Apprenticeships at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “Cheshire College is a key driver in reviving the economy. Accelerate aims to have a transformative effect on the culture of ongoing learning and development across Cheshire and Warrington. As a lead partner of Accelerate, it is the College’s priority to be agile enough to anticipate, innovate and equip people with the tools they need for the jobs of tomorrow.  

“Skills development is a vital component in increasing the level and range of skills across workers and young people, increasing the adoption rate of new technologies and opening up career opportunities, so that residents benefit, and businesses and the economy thrive. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses and employees to become more resilient and competitive after a challenging year. We want to help businesses go into 2021 feeling more prepared than ever before.” 

Funding can be accessed by businesses and their employees who live or work in Cheshire and Warrington to undertake training across a wide range of subjects. 

  • Businesses employing more than 50 staff can access 40% funding to go towards the cost of training through Accelerate to retrain and upskill their workforce. 
  • Employees of businesses with less than 50 people can access 100% funding towards the training available, which comprises of 40% funding from Accelerate and 60% from the LEP. 

You can find out more about the Accelerate programme by emailing or calling 01270 654638 (Crewe Campus) / 01244 656455 (Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses).  

Cheshire College provide over 300 learners with food hampers

Cheshire College – South & West has joined forces with businesses across the country to support local learners and their families over the Christmas break by providing over 300 hampers full of a wide range of essential food items and toiletries.

With a number one priority to support learners’ health, safety and wellbeing, Cheshire College – South & West reached out to companies including Coca Cola, Costa, Mornflake and The Little Food Company to spread some Christmas cheer through the ‘Happy Holiday Hampers’. 

Hospitality & Catering learners at the College also got involved with the campaign to support their peers, generously preparing more than 1,000 dishes to be included in the hampers, from tea-time stables to delicious sweet treats. 

Dhesi, Principal and CEO of Cheshire College – South & West, said: “The College continuously strives to make a positive and valued contribution to society, which is why we have and will continue to support all our learners. 

“It has been truly inspiring to witness the College community and local businesses pulling together, showing resourcefulness and commitment in such unprecedented circumstances.

“It is often the small gestures, like this, that we overlook and take for granted. Our learners have shown tremendous resilience and kindness during what has been a very different first term and I am delighted we have been able to share these hampers with them.”

Principal and CEO of Cheshire College South & West Dhesi with Travel & Tourism learners collecting their hampers

The ‘Happy Holiday Hampers’ have been distributed to learners across the College’s three campuses who applied for them on a ‘no questions asked’ basis. 

One learner who received a Happy Holiday Hamper commented: “I’m absolutely made up to have received one of the Happy Holiday Hampers. The College has always given learners amazing support, placing a huge emphasis on our wellbeing, and this is just another example of them going above and beyond to support us. 

“I didn’t know what to expect when I collected the hamper last week, but I’m genuinely overwhelmed with how much was in it and it’s going to help so much over the holidays.”

Included within the hampers were items donated from The Little Food Company who have worked closely with Cheshire College – South & West for many years. 

Mark Keats, Operations Director said: “We are always happy to support the College’s initiatives surrounding social and economic responsibility. If anything ‘good’ has come from the pandemic, it’s the amount of organisations like Cheshire College – South & West who are looking after the needs of the most vulnerable. I am confident this will continue for a long time to come.” 

Other companies who donated food and gift items to the Happy Holiday Hampers include: Mornflake, Coca Cola, Ravenscroft, Darlington & Daughters, Turner & Wrights, GAP, Eden Farm, Ribble Farm, Costa, ASDA Ellesmere Port and Crewe, Boulder Hut, Ginger and Pickles, Money Forest and Mandy Robertson.

The ‘Happy Holiday Hampers’ come at the end of the Autumn Term which has seen the College introduce a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support learners, after what has been an unusual start to the academic year.

Cheshire College learners served Sporting Excellence Diploma by Volleyball England

Cheshire College – South & West continuously emphasises the importance of extra-curricular activities, encouraging learners to go above and beyond their core study programme to maximize passion and further develop their skills.  

Two A Level learners, Rebecca Gaskell and Iona Young, have been selected by their sporting National Governing Body Volleyball England to enrol on the Level 3 Pearson BTEC Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE). 

Rebecca and Iona have been playing Volleyball since Year 5 with a volleyball club at Madeley High School. As they progressed to be pupils at Madeley High School they continued playing volleyball and in Year 8 they joined the Newcastle Staffs Volleyball Club where they were had the opportunity to compete against the country’s best volleyball teams in the National Volleyball League. Last year, playing for the Newcastle and Staffs team, Iona and Rebecca put in excellent performances to support the team in achieving third place overall in the national finals. 

Iona Young and Rebecca Gaskell

The Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sporting Excellence is aimed at talented sports performers in order to confirm competence in the elite sports arena, specifically the training environment of the learner’s chosen sport, for both the practical and theoretical elements. 

The course will span over two academic years and over the duration of the DiSE programme learners will complete a portfolio of work during the delivery sessions. Additionally, they will record their training and competition hours and engage in Progress Reviews and Professional Discussions (every 10-12 weeks) with a designated DiSE Assessor/Mentor. 

Rebecca, 16, Crewe, commented: “I was very pleased that I’d been asked to do the course. It’s a great opportunity to get a qualification from a sport I really enjoy doing. What we will learn is not just related to sport, for example we will study subjects like Psychology which we can apply to our future studies and all aspects of life. I want to do a Degree in Biology and I think lots of universities have volleyball teams so hopefully I will find one that has a good volleyball team and a course I will enjoy.” 

Iona, 17, Crewe, added: “This is a great opportunity to gain a qualification in something I enjoy, and it will distinguish me when applying for courses at university and jobs. I’m considering studying a Law Degree after I finish my A Levels, hopefully at the University of Cambridge. The DISE should help my application stand out, but it will also give me an advantage if I choose to trial for the England Volleyball team in the future. 

“The course will be invaluable in giving me skills that I can apply in other areas of my life and my future. I have decided to keep my options open for the future and the course will help widen the career choices available to me.” 

Bertrand Olie, Volleyball England Academy Coach and Technical Lead based at Loughborough College which provides the DiSE Programme, commented: “Iona Young and Rebecca Gaskell have been part of the Volleyball England community for several years now. 

“After joining the Volleyball England pathway, we are pleased that they joined us on the Volleyball England DiSE programme through their Volleyball club, Newcastle Staffs Volleyball Club.  This programme is run and managed on the daily basis by Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, with the support of Loughborough College.  

“Joining this programme shows that on top of their sporting abilities, they are ready to work towards another academic qualification alongside their traditional college studies to know more about the Elite athlete life, including lifestyle, finance management, communication and other aspects of this specific life. We believe that it will help them to achieve even more and better on-court and off-court, in the near future.” 

Sarah Bradley, Assistant Director – A Levels, said: “It is inspiring to see learners developing as sportsmen and women alongside gaining their qualifications. 

‘’We are passionate about supporting our learners’ personal development and our dynamic and exciting learning environment aims to give them the confidence and skills needed to achieve and even exceed their goals.  

‘’We are immensely proud of both Rebecca and Iona in their recent achievements.’’ 

The DiSE training and delivery sessions are scheduled between their full-time programme to offer minimal disruption to the learners’ academic study. 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit 

Cheshire College elect new Student President

Cheshire College – South & West are delighted to announce that Thomas Roden, studying Level 3 Business, at the College’s Chester Campus, has been elected as the 2020-21 Student President.  

Since starting his studies in September 2019, Thomas has represented his fellow learners and has already done some amazing work for the College, with a focus on raising money for local charities.  

Planning to build on the work he has already started over the last year, Thomas aims to address several things this year, including building a culture that is inclusive of all learners, raising awareness of mental health in young people, whilst working with tutors to address the challenges of teaching, learning and assessment online. 

Thomas was officially elected as Student President in November following a rigorous application and interview process.  

Thomas said: “I feel privileged to be in this position. All my ideas centre around ensuring parity across all Campuses. I hope to enhance the learner community, so every learner feels heard and that their input is valued.”  

Joanne Stewart, Participation and Learner Services Manager, commented: “We are ecstatic that Thomas has been elected Student President. We’re confident that he will continue to be a brilliant representative for our learners and will enhance the excellent work he started last year.” 

Dhesi, Principal and CEO, added: “The role of Student President is vital in any education setting. It is a great opportunity for an individual to take on a leadership role, problem-solve and impact the learner community, in addition to boosting confidence and communication skills. I look forward to working alongside Thomas to provide a safe, happy and innovative learning experience, allowing all learners to achieve their full potential.” 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West, visit