Wednesday 28th January 2009 by C. Freeman
Sixth Form students Jonathon Nicholson and Sidonie Shearer are both undertaking professional work placements as part of the new BW Diploma course. They enjoyed their Year 10 work experience so much that they have returned to work for a longer stint at Wicksteed Park and Vetsavers respectively.
Jonathon, who is taking A Levels in physics, chemistry, maths and further maths, is gaining practical experience in the engineering department at Wicksteed Park. Over the coming weeks he will learn maintenance and repair skills and will even be taught basic welding techniques.
Sidonie, who wants to train as a vet, is also in the ideal placement to gain experience in her chosen profession. She attends the Vetsavers practice at Oakley Vale once a week sitting in on consultations and operations. She said: 'I've always wanted to be a vet; I've always enjoyed science and animals so it combines both. I'm studying biology, chemistry, physics and English language at A Level.'
So far her most unusual patient has been a lizard which came in for a check up, but the main patients are domestic pets like dogs, cats and rabbits and she is present for both consultations and operations, typically seeing lumps being removed, treatment for lacerations or routine neutering procedures.
She said: 'After every consultation the vet, Laura, checks that I understand what is going on and in the operation she goes through exactly what she's doing and names parts that I might not know. It can be a bit gory but luckily I'm not squeamish!' Sidonie attends during surgery times on Friday mornings and hopes to apply to vet school at Bristol next year.
Jonathon, who hopes to study engineering at university, spends Wednesday afternoons at Wicksteed Park. He said: 'It's varied work, you're not doing something over and over again, every day there's something different and it's a new experience. If something needs making then we get a call and do it. It's normally metal work really but they can do other jobs like fixing plastic stuff as well, making fences; it varies really.'
Students attend the professional placements generally for two study periods each week. Over the academic year this means they devote many hours to their chosen placement which gives them a real insight into real-life working practices. The option of taking a professional placement is just one of the choices that students are given on the newly introduced BW Diploma which aims to extend and enhance Sixth Form studies. As well as work experience placements students can also opt to undertake extended study courses, sports coaching, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award or environmental work in the community.