• 9 February 2021

Learning in lockdown

Ellis Oxlade is a Structures Apprentice in our London office who is one of countless students that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as working exclusively from home, Ellis explains what it’s been like to continue striving towards his apprenticeship in lockdown.

Since the first lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020, we have all had to adapt to considerable changes in the way we live our lives. As Apprentices, we have had to become accustomed to remote learning in the training side of our role while the majority of us at Waterman have been set up for homeworking. Even though we are all having to work in different locations, my team has continued to effectively collaborate on our projects across London, including the 32,000 sq. ft newly refurbished offices at the Fulham Centre. Besides my lectures, I am also assisting with the drafting design work on Autodesk Revit for various new school builds and the modernisation of office developments such as 1 Babmaes Street.

Personally, I have found studying for an Apprenticeship in lockdown to have both benefits and flaws. I think it is a lot harder for university lecturers to capture the attention of the audience in an online lecture, making it easier to get distracted when trying to focus on the content, but taking regular breaks can help renew your focus along with ensuring that you do not spend all day trapped in a bedroom or study. It is especially important to create a sense of separation between your working and relaxation time, otherwise it can be difficult to unwind at the end of the day.

One benefit I have found with remote learning is that it allows you to focus more on your specific personal educational needs. Since you have a lot more flexibility and aren’t in a fixed university day, you can work towards improving in areas that you are less competent in as opposed to working on a subject that you already have a good understanding of, or simply delve more into a subject that you are particularly interested in. For example, I have gained a good understanding of the basics of engineering principles which has allowed me to spend more time focusing on my fluid mechanics assignments, which was an area I had no prior knowledge of.


As we are now in the middle of our third lockdown, at times it can be difficult to motivate yourself or have the same sense of satisfaction in learning when you haven’t seen your colleagues and friends from university in nearly a year. I have had to find other ways of motivating myself outside of my social circle, keeping active and forcing myself to do an hour of exercise every evening no matter how tired or drained I may be. The key principle in doing this is that if you can motivate yourself to exercise, it becomes easier to motivate yourself to keep on top of learning tasks. It also keeps you physically and mentally healthy, which keeps you in high self-esteem and reinforces your enthusiasm to face the day ahead.

Ellis Oxlade

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