College life

Macclesfield College Alumni

At Macclesfield College, we are incredibly proud of our students and their achievements.

We love to keep in touch with our students in the years after they studied with us, to see what they have accomplished.

We feel it is important to show our current students what they can do, by showing them what those before them have accomplished. 

Below are some interviews with some of our Alumni. 

Dr Thomas Donclift, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Technician

Hello Thomas, thank you for taking time to speak with us. What are you up to now?

I work at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC – University of Glasgow) as an Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Technician.


What does your job entail?

Accelerator Mass Spectrometry utilises particle accelerators to generate extremely high energy particle beams which are then bent around a radius using powerful magnets. When a particle beam is bent around a radius, the beam components exit at different angles and separate depending on their mass and charge state. This is used to precisely measure tiny quantities of rare isotopes in samples. Measuring the ratios of the isotopes ¹⁴C, ¹³C, and ¹²C allows us to calculate the age of organic matter in a process known as “radiocarbon dating” which has a wide range of applications, most notably in archaeology, geology, and forensic science.


How did Macclesfield College help you progress to where you are now?

Macclesfield College created a great environment to take some initial steps into the world of science. By providing a diverse, science based course that isn’t too heavily weighted in any single scientific discipline, while maintaining a central focus that is also interesting, such as forensics, allowed me to identify the aspects of science that I personally found most interesting. Macclesfield College also went beyond simply teaching the course and played an active role in helping students progress into the next stage of their careers, for me that was help applying for university.

The college also assisted in a number of industry visits to scientific establishments such as Astrazeneca and Pfizer laboratories which really puts science as a career into perspective.


Would you recommend us to a student that’s thinking of applying?

Absolutely! The college environment is ideal for making students feel independent, adult, and in control. I feel that integrated sixth forms don’t offer enough of a change for young students leaving high school and consequently shield them from many career options. A dedicated college establishment offers dedicated service to students as attention is not divided amongst several cohorts of younger GCSE students and is instead focused on helping students begin their careers.


What advice would you give to a year 11 student considering Macclesfield College?

Very few people truly know what they want to do with their lives, but really you don’t need to know; all you need to know is the next step. If you know what the next step forward looks like, and can dedicate yourself to achieving it, then success is sure to follow. Macclesfield College can help you find that next step forward and help you get there.

Lee R. , Jaguar Land Rover

I joined British Aerospace (which later became BAE Systems) in 1994 through a 4 year Apprenticeship. As part of the apprenticeship, the business supported my academic development through a sponsorship at Macclesfield College of Further Education. The college was different back then, but still delivered a relaxed environment to gain qualifications in. The staff were supportive and knowledgeable and helped to kick-start my career.

I started on a BTEC Ordinary National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering in 1994 and then progressed to a BTEC Higher National Certificate in 1996. These two courses were the ‘book ends’ to the apprenticeship and were part of having the recognition in both the practical elements and the academic part too.

In 2002, I came back to continue my education and knowledge of Mechanical Engineering through a BTEC Higher National Diploma at Macclesfield College. This gave me the foundation to start a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University. This was the pivot in my career and gave a new dimension to where I could go and what I could achieve.

My learning continued during 18 years in the Aerospace industry; working in Quality, Design, Structures and Management on Civil & Military Defense projects, Nacelle’s and Thrust Reversers, and then development the Airbus A350 composite wings.  I then saw an opportunity to move to the Automotive Industry, using the education, experience and my transferable skills.

I now work for Jaguar Land Rover, leading a multi nation team who are based in the UK, Austria and Slovakia. The role ensures the best levels of product quality are delivered to our customers through data analysis and engineering, using my past experience and new skills, including Lean Six Sigma methodology. I have responsibility for every current car line and new launch products for all markets, globally.

Without the opportunity of studying at Macclesfield College, I would not be in the position that I am today.

Every student owns their own destiny, it is not given to you. It is down to each student to create your own future, to believe in yourself and to have the hunger to learn and to do the best you can. The college delivers the material and supports your needs, but it is down to every student to grasp the opportunity and strive for your own success.

Chloe Machin, Social Worker

What are you up to now?

Practicing as a Children’s Social Worker – Child in Need and Child Protection.


What does that entail?

A children’s Social Worker in CIN and CP involves responding to new referrals from professionals and members of the public regarding safeguarding concerns for children. We investigate allegations of neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse so that a child or young person is protected from harm. We hold Children In Need plans (section 17 children’s act) or we hold Child Protection plans (section 47 children’s act). We hold a case load of around 17-30 children and young people.


How did Macclesfield College help you progress to where you are now?

I completed my Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care at Macclesfield College. This allowed me to then apply for university to study my BA Hons Social Work degree. Once I completed my degree in Social Work, I then went back to Macclesfield College to work as a Learning Mentor in the pastoral team, supporting young people who attended Macclesfield College. This gave me the experience of working with a diverse range of young people with different needs and issues. With this experience, I was then able to progress and work for the NHS as a Substance Misuse worker, specifically working with young people up to the age of 24.


What do you think about Macclesfield College?

I think  the staff are brilliant at Macclesfield College – the teaching staff were knowledgeable, supportive and put in 110% to ensure myself and my peers all succeeded in our further education. The pastoral/student services department were great, always there to support students who are struggling, whether this be with personal/out of college issues or things you may be struggling with on the course, e.g. assignments/catching up with work.


Would you recommend us to a student that’s thinking of applying?

Definitely apply! I would encourage students to attend the open evenings and to ask as many questions as possible about your potential course. Ask about what this course could do for your future career aspirations and ask about the topics you will be covering. I would encourage going to meet with the pastoral/student services team too if you have any anxieties about starting college or any issues you think you may need additional support with. The staff are really friendly and always willing to help!

Heather Lilley, BSc in Psychology

Hi Heather, thank you for speaking with me, it’s great to have a catch up! What are you up to now?
I’m now in my second year at Manchester Met University studying for a degree in psychology.

What has been your favourite part so far? 
Honestly, I’ve enjoyed all of it. But I’ve developed a keen interest in the neuro and biological aspect of psychology, which I didn’t expect, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to bridge connections between the many different branches of psychology.

How did we prepare you for University?
Doing the Access to HE Diploma at the college prepared me in more ways than one. It enabled me to get back into the mindset of a student after so many years away from education. It taught me about academic writing and referencing – which is a huge part of studying at university level, and helped to build my confidence up in study skills needed at university. It proved to be a valuable stepping stone from working life back into full-time education, which I don’t think I’d be where I am without, as I didn’t realise at the time just how much of a jump it would be.
I really wouldn’t be where I am now had I not done the access course at college. It opened up the opportunity for me to study at university, which may not have been possible otherwise.

What do you think of Macclesfield College?
The staff were fabulous, Lisa and Tanya and the whole of the access team were very supportive throughout.

Would you recommend us?
Yes, absolutely.  When I found out that in order to pursue my dream of going to university as a mature student, I’d have to do an Access to HE diploma at college first, I’ll be honest and say that I very nearly didn’t go ahead with it! But now, as I head in to second year at university, I am so grateful that I did. The course not only opened up opportunities for higher education itself, but it also provided an invaluable academic stepping-stone that prepared me for what was to come. Having been away from formal education for so long, had I not done the access course I know I would have struggled to adapt to the academic demands of university. Being at Macclesfield College for that year before heading to university really helped to prepare me for that next step, both personally and academically.
How are you finding the Psychology course at University?
I am really enjoying the course. It’s challenging and it requires a lot of self-study alongside the formal teaching, but the wide range of topics and subjects make it a very stimulating course. The lecturers are very engaging and passionate in their subject areas which also really helps to keep me focussed and motivated.

What would you like to do after you graduate?
I plan on applying to study MSc in Health Psychology straight after I graduate, and from there I hope to take the BPS chartership route into becoming a registered Health Psychologist.

Leah Morris, BA Social Work

Hi Leah. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, it’s great to catch up with you! What are you up to now?
I am now a student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying BA Social Work.

How are you finding the Social Work course at MMU?

My favourite part of the course so far is the learning from topics around anti-discrimination, disability model, oppression and anti-psychiatry. I am also taking part in an additional course along-side social work degree, which is called inter professional exchange, this course allows me to work with students from other course to work through case studies as professionals from different backgrounds and how multidisciplinary teams will work in practice in the sector.

What has been your favourite part so far?
The favourite part of the course so far is the learning from topics around anti-discrimination, disability model, oppression and anti-psychiatry. I am also taking part in an additional course alongside social work degree, which is called inter professional exchange, this course allows me to work with students from other course to work through case studies as professionals from different backgrounds and how multidisciplinary teams will work in practice in the sector.

How did we prepare you for University?
At college I gained the understanding of multidisciplinary working and what the benefits and disadvantages are, and this allowed me to add onto my knowledge at university.
My tutor gave me support writing my personal statement and my teachers gave me good reliable references to my university to secure my place.

What do you think of Macclesfield College?
I studied on the health and social care course level 3, and taking part in a placement allowed me to put into practice my learning and knowledge from the class room. The tutors at Macclesfield College gave me lots of support to reach my high grades in my assignments, following this I achieved distinctions in all my assignments resulting is leaving college with the results I aimed high for, triple distinction star. I would recommend Macclesfield College to future students as they are very supportive and pushed me to do my best and reach my targets and even further. Macclesfield College allowed me to achieve the highest grades and enabled me to study at university and put me on my path to be a social worker.

What would you like to do after you graduate?
After graduating I would like to be a practicing social worker, and use my knowledge from college and additional learning from university to make a positive difference in society.

If you are a Macclesfield College Alumnus and would like to get in touch, please email