Cheshire College Learner Makes Waves During Virtual Work Placement

Virtual learning and work experience are going hand-in-hand as education providers adapt once again to remote working during the Coronavirus pandemic and a learner at Cheshire College – South & West has, quite literally, made waves during a successful virtual work placement. 

Second year A Level learner Bert McLaren recently completed a month-long work experience placement with the Nuffield Research Foundation which saw him record radio signals from passing orbital satellites using antennas made from coat hangers before decoding them. 

With aspirations to become an Aerospace Engineer, Bert who studies A Level Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at Cheshire College’s Crewe Campus, originally applied to complete the placement when it was designed to be delivered as a face-to-face programme working within a university completing astrophysics tasks. However, this was adapted to become a virtual work experience when the pandemic hit. 

A signal Bert captured during his placement

Commenting on his first experience of a virtual work placement Bert said: “The College helped me find the placement with the Nuffield Research Foundation after I spoke to my tutor and I thought it’d be perfect for someone like me who wanted to get some work experience under my belt during my time in College. 

“Even though it was virtual, I did enjoy the placement a lot as it was really exciting to set-up the antennas and wait for passing satellites to capture the signals they were transmitting. I was taught exactly the same things as I would have been if it was face-to-face, so I’d definitely recommend a virtual placement.”

Neil Borg-Olivier, Assistant Principal – Curriculum, commented: “We’re really pleased that our learners are still able to access enjoyable, high-quality, work placements during this time. These placements allow learners to expand their knowledge, gain experience in their chosen careers and make those all-important industry contacts. At Cheshire College – South & West we want all our learners to achieve their full potential and work experience plays a huge part in this, providing invaluable opportunities for our learners.

“Over the past twelve months as all education providers navigate online learning, we’ve really strengthened our virtual learning environments to ensure learners still have access to high quality learning programmes. Since the start of the year our learners have shown great resilience to adapt quickly to frequent changes brought about by the pandemic and have adapted well to new ways of learning. Bert’s work with the Nuffield Research Foundation is a great example of how our learners’ adaptability can lead to excellent outcomes.”

At Cheshire College – South & West, staff have been delivering successful virtual teaching through the use of Microsoft Teams, which provides an interactive learning opportunity with breakout rooms for learners to share their ideas in smaller groups where appropriate before coming back together as a whole class. 

Learners at Cheshire’s largest provider of post-16 education have also been speaking about their experiences of remote learning and sharing tips for others in the College’s latest social media video campaign, ‘The Lowdown This Lockdown’.  You can watch the series so far here.

If you would like to know more about work placements at Cheshire College – South & West, please email or call 01270 654654 (Crewe Campus) / 01244 656555 (Ellesmere Port and Chester Campuses). 

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