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Nescot Alumni

Nescot opened its doors as Ewell County Technical College in 1953, with 789 students working towards qualifications in subjects from Construction to Science. Courses over the years have ranged from Animal Pathology, Bacteriology and Law to Flower Arranging and Home Economics. Today the college welcomes almost 8,000 students each year, with full-time courses for school leavers, apprenticeships, part-time courses for adults, and university-level study as well as distance learning.

The college's first Principal was Lt Col Thomas Buchanan, a decorated army veteran of 'legendary coolness and bravery'. You can read more about him here. Previous students have included David Bellamy, who studied at Nescot and later worked as a laboratory technician and Dan Dare cartoonist Frank Hampson, while Dr Guy Vine taught civil and structural engineering at the college. You can read more here.

We are always keen to hear from previous students about their time at Nescot and what they have gone on to do. To feature on these pages please contact the Marketing and Communications team by emailing

Professor Robin Shattock

An internationally-renowned scientist who pioneered a new generation of medical technology has described studying at Nescot as a ‘turning point’ in his life.

Professor Robin Shattock led work at Imperial College London to develop a Covid-19 vaccine in 2020, and his team’s findings could be extended beyond vaccines to other types of medicine.

He told Nescot that science is ‘on the cusp of something revolutionary’ and spoke of his pride at being involved in what he said was the most exciting part of his career so far.

You can read the full interview here.

The Body Coach: Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks, who is now a household name as a fitness coach, presenter and author, as well as the ‘nation’s PE teacher’, studied a National Diploma at Nescot in 2002.

It was the first time he’d studied nutrition, and the first time he’d learnt about sports as a business, as well as his first opportunity to study exercise and fitness in-depth.

He has spoken about his experiences of studying Sport at the college, crediting Nescot with ‘inspiring’ him and changing his outlook.

You can read the full interview here.

Yvonne Spencer: Director of Science Transformation at APHA

Yvonne Spencer joined the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency in 1984, and is now Director of Science Transformation, which includes leading on the science specifications for the multi-billion pound programme for new biocontainment animal and laboratory facilities in Weybridge. She is also senior science consultant for work on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, Pathology and Animal Sciences at APHA. Yvonne, who studied at Nescot from 1984 to 1996, started work after her science A-Levels, completed her BTEC HNC, then went on to become the first person in her family to gain a degree. Yvonne believes in the importance of apprenticeships and education, communication in science, and in dispersing stereotypes. She reflected on almost four decades as a woman in science, the barriers she has faced, and the role that Nescot has played in her career. Click here to read more.

Professor Ian Brown OBE

Professor Ian Brown OBE is Director of Scientific Services at the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge. He is also Director of the International Reference Laboratories, and helps to direct the UK’s response to bird flu. Professor Brown studied Applied Biology and then Immunology at Nescot, graduating in the early 1980s.

“My HND was a great introduction to all the theory and principles, as well as what to do practically. The lecturers were enthusiastic and inspiring – they genuinely cared about their students, and wanted the best for them. I owe a lot to my teachers. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

“Because of my experience at Nescot, I always recommend to people that they get a breath of experience early on. If you focus too early on it can end up closing doors to you. I started as a junior technician - I’m proof that you can come in with O-Levels, and go all the way up. That shows the power of education.”

You can read the full interview here.


Level 2 and 3 Hairdressing, now working for Toni&Guy Mayfair

“I’d lost my job, and times were really hard. I knew I could study a Level 2 qualification for free, so I thought I’d give hairdressing a go. I told myself it was no big deal if I didn’t like it – and now I’m working in Mayfair for an international company!

“I found that Level 2 was a great foundation, and then you build on that for Level 3. This year we’ve been doing colour correction, different types of colour, advanced highlighting, and more technical cuts like transient lengths. It has been hard at times, but I’ve felt supported at all times.

“The teaching has been out of this world – you really couldn’t get better. The teachers all have experience of working in salons, so they talk about the industry as a whole, and give great advice. Starting to work with clients was intimidating at first, but you don’t do it until you’re ready, and you just have to believe in yourself.

“Because Nescot works with Toni&Guy, I managed to get work experience in a salon in Covent Garden. I worked hard and asked questions – and I managed to get a job at their salon in Mayfair. I’m starting as a salon assistant, and then I’ll become a technician, and I’ll keep working my way up. Work experience was nerve-wracking at first, because you don’t have the teachers there, but my tutor just kept telling me to trust myself – my skills and my judgement.

“My advice to anyone starting out is: hairdressing is a skill, so take your time to practice. If you’re willing to put the work in then you’ll get there. I’d also tell people to trust the teachers, trust the system and trust yourself. Everyone has days when they think they’ll never be able to do a certain technique, but you will get there with the help of the teachers. I would 100% recommend Nescot – I never would have got to where I am without them.”


Metropolitan Police Officer and former Uniformed Public Services student

“I chose to study Uniformed Public Services because I hoped to become a police officer one day, and now I am. I can’t thank the staff at Nescot enough for their support and encouragement.”

Felicity Fletcher

I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was small, and now I’m literally living my dream career. I teach English full-time at Nescot, working with teenagers and adults and teaching across all the levels, from Functional Skills to GCSE. I feel really privileged to be doing what I love, and the support I have here is amazing.

A few years ago I was working in administration at a council, and I ended up helping a colleague by covering a class helping adults with their IT skills. It reignited my passion for teaching, and when I thought about it I realized there was nothing stopping me from getting a qualification as an adult. I looked around for courses and I saw that Nescot offered a range of different options. I started with the Level 3 Education and Training qualification, which was one evening a week for 10 weeks. My tutor said I’d make a good teacher and encouraged me to apply for the Post-Graduate Certificate of Education, or PGCE, and she even told me about a bursary I could apply for. I studied full-time for a year, having lessons two days a week and doing a placement for three days. I really liked the structure of the course, because it was a good balance between learning the theory and ideas and then being able to put that into practice ourselves. We talked in classes about what had worked well on our placements, and we all helped and supported each other with new ideas to try. I also did my maths GCSE at Nescot. It was great to be able to do both qualifications at the same time, and being a maths student gave me even more experience of how people learn and how to help them.

When I finished my PGCE I started teaching at a prison. It was a really rewarding experience, because I knew I was making a difference every single day. I learnt a lot from the environment, and it has made me a better teacher. I’m delighted to be back at Nescot – the facilities are amazing, the staff are so helpful and supportive, and the students are a joy to work with.

Studying at Nescot has made me the teacher that I am today. The qualifications have given me the knowledge and the skills I needed, and the staff help inspire my passion for teaching – and I hope my enthusiasm is infectious. I love getting to know the students and understanding what motivates them, so that I can tailor my lessons and help them to get the best out of the subject. I would recommend Nescot to anyone. It’s the perfect size: small enough that it feels like family, but big enough that you get access to amazing facilities. The tutors support you so much and they really encourage you to work hard and to progress your qualifications. Teaching is my passion, and I’m so grateful to Nescot for helping me to follow my dream.

Shane Carpenter

I work at a financial services business in central London. I’m a Network Infrastructure Administrator, so I help to design and look after the different networks used for trading. It’s totally different from anything I’ve done before, so I’m learning a lot. The work is very fast-paced, and we do a lot of project work so there’s always something new to be part of. The people I work with are really experienced and very knowledgeable, but they’re also friendly and welcoming. The best thing about the company is that it’s the kind of place where everyone is open to listening to new ideas, so you can keep pushing yourself to keep improving. The company even sent me to Chicago to their data centre, which was an amazing experience.

Studying at Nescot literally changed my life. I started with a Level 3 qualification in Computing, which I really enjoyed because it was such a practical course. You’d usually do 18 units, but I did 21 units to help me broaden my knowledge. I finished with a triple distinction-starred profile, which I was really proud of. I was offered a full scholarship to King’s University in London to read Computer Science. I was really tempted, and I would have been the first person in my family to go to university, but it wasn’t the right fit for me. I decided to do an apprenticeship, because I wanted to have a job while I kept learning, so I did the Higher Apprenticeship at Nescot and got my HND. I also did lots of additional certifications at Nescot, including multiple Cisco and Juniper qualifications.

The best thing I did at Nescot was WorldSkills, which is an international competition that people call the ‘skills olympics’. I entered the national competition in my first year at Nescot, and I won the regional competition. When I got through to the finals I was overwhelmed by the experience and I didn’t perform to my best. It was really hard at the time, but I learnt a lot about myself from the failure and it made me much better in the long run. I entered again the next year and won a silver medal, and then I made it to the UK squad for WorldSkills. I made it onto the final UK team for WorldSkills international in Abu Dhabi and won a Medallion of Excellence. I also won a Medallion of Excellence at EuroSkills in Budapest, and then I took part in an international competition in Shenzhen in China and came second.

The Computing tutors at Nescot encourage everyone to enter the competitions. I’m really glad I did, because I believe being part of WorldSkills helped me to get my job. I learnt so much technically, and it gave me so many opportunities to learn new skills and to test myself. The best thing was how much confidence it gave me – especially because I didn’t win a medal in my first year. I learnt that it’s ok to fail, as long as you use it as a way to admit what you don’t know and work out how you’ll get better. The more experience I got the more confidence it gave me, and now when I’m giving ideas at work I can back them up with real-life examples.

I think studying Computing at Nescot would appeal to someone who likes to learn by doing rather than reading from a book. The facilities across the college are amazing, and in Computing you get access to lots of great equipment and labs. The best advice I can give anyone is to work hard, to enjoy it, and to ask for help if you need it. The teachers are exceptional and they really go above and beyond to help every student. I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work. I’ll always be grateful to Nescot for the skills, qualifications and the experiences I had there – it changed my life.

Ricky Reino

I’m a big cat keeper at The Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden in Kent. I’m responsible for the care and management of the animals, which include tigers, leopards, jaguars, lions, cheetahs and pumas. It’s a really varied job, which includes feeding the cats, maintaining their enclosures, and getting involved with guest experiences. It’s amazing to be able to build relationships with such incredible species, and my favourite part of what I do is training the cats for simple medical procedures.

I started my Level 3 in Animal Management at Nescot in 2005. After that I went to Hadlow College, where I did a Foundation Degree in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity, and then on to the University of Roehampton for a top-up degree in Zoology.

Nescot was a lot of fun, but we all worked really hard. I learnt a lot of theory in a massive range of topics, and the experience I got working on the farm was really useful. My favourite unit was probably Collection Management, but I still remember the things I learnt on Breeding and Genetics modules too. We went out to visit zoos a few times, which helped me to think about my career options.

I always knew I wanted to work with big cats. In my career so far I’ve worked at a private zoo in Dubai and then Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, as well as volunteering at Chessington Zoo from Year 11. My advice to students is to work really hard at college, because that knowledge and experience on the farm will get you a long way. Don’t expect things to fall into your lap, but if you know what you want to do then just go for it. There’s no substitute for practical experience, so do as much work experience and as many internships as you can. One of the best things about working with animals is that you never stop learning.

Miguel Gomez Silva

I did my Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 AAT at Nescot, and now I’m an accountant in a company and really enjoying it. The teachers at Nescot are exceptional and they really go the extra mile.

Luke Pharoah

I’m a trainee zookeeper at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire. I started my job in 2015, after finishing my Level 3 Animal Management course at Nescot with a triple distinction. I’m doing an additional qualification alongside my job, and soon I’ll be fully qualified as a zookeeper.

The best thing about being a zookeeper is how varied it is. In a typical day I could be doing anything from feeding animals to helping train them for procedures, maintaining enclosures, or mucking out. I live at the zoo, which I love because you get to be involved at a closer level. For example, you might be called on to help with an animal arriving at the zoo late at night after it’s been transported from another zoo, or you might need to look after an animal that needs special care. I work with all kinds of animals, from brown bears to tigers, but my favourite animal to work with is a camel.

The best thing about studying at Nescot was getting to work on the farm. I’d advise any students who want to become zookeepers to really make the most of the farm, because what you learn is so transferable. The farm is like a small version of a zoo, and a lot of the techniques you use are the same. For example, the units I studied on Anatomy, Biology and Biochemistry and the practical skills I learnt helping catching sheep and lambing still help me in my day-to-day job now.

While I was at Nescot I did work experience at Chessington Zoo, and I also had a part-time job looking after reptiles at a garden centre. My tutors always encouraged me to push myself, and I’d tell anyone studying Animal Management the same thing. I always knew I wanted to work with exotic animals, either in conservation or as a zookeeper, and I feel really lucky that my first job is at Whipsnade.

John Tracey

I’m a dairy assistant at a farm in Oxfordshire. A typical day starts for me at 3.20am, when my alarm goes off, and I start work at 4am.

The farm I’m on now has about 460 cows, and we supply 14,500 litres of milk per day to shops including Tesco. I supervise the milking and take care of the cows in general – I even do the artificial insemination. It’s a long day, and it’s hard work, but I love what I do.

I did my NVQ1 and my First Diploma at Nescot, and I did my work experience at City Farm and Bocketts Farm, which was my first experience of a working farm. I went on to Plumpton College to do a National Diploma in Agriculture. Since then I’ve worked with herds of cows for almost ten years and I’ve travelled the world – I’ve worked in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the UK. It’s a great trade, because you can go anywhere there’s cows.

My advice to students is to make sure you’re confident in your practical skills, whether that’s handling animals or understanding their biology. In my line of work it’s essential that you can drive a tractor, and I would recommend making sure you have your driving licence as soon as possible.

I struggled at school, and I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but once I visited Nescot I was hooked. I loved working with the cows, and for the first time I could see a career path that really fit me. It literally transformed my life – without Zoe and Marcus and Nescot I honestly don’t know what I would have done. They taught me that if you work hard the sky really is the limit.