College students acknowledged for debating European issues

Coleg y Cymoedd hosted a Catering enrichment session at its Nantgarw campus, inviting pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni to participate in a professional cookery workshop, through the medium of Welsh.

The group of 30 pupils spent the day in the demo kitchens, which are equipped to the highest industry standard; to practice the skills required for employment in the catering sector.

The session is part of a series of ‘enrichment days’, which are funded by the South East Wales 14-19 Cross boundaries Forum. The aim is to enrich the learning experiences of students from Welsh medium schools by giving them the opportunity to work with the colleges highly experienced staff in a professional catering environment. Similar sessions have been held in Car Maintenance and French, with a future residential workshop planned in Customer Care.

The session at the college was even more productive as five Welsh speaking catering students led the workshops, practising their language skills; the first time in this environment since possibly leaving school.

College Principal, Judith Evans commented “We are very fortunate at Coleg y Cymoedd to have highly skilled staff in this area, able to teach in both Welsh and English and we are happy to encourage the budding chefs of the future to consider a career in professional catering. The pupils were attentive, well behaved and very enthusiastic about using the fantastic facilities at Nantgarw campus and were a real credit to their school.”

The pupils were split in to two groups and each given the task of preparing a main dish – Glamorganshire sausage and a Welsh dessert. Year 11 pupil, Jack Thomas said “I’ve really enjoyed today, I have aspirations to become a chef so this has been great”.

The college works closely with Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni and plans to work with the other Welsh Medium schools throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly, offering similar workshops.

Cerys Smith, Head of Hospitality at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni said “Today has been fantastic the pupils have had the opportunity to work in a professional kitchen and use their skills and expertise of the college lecturers which has been very beneficial”.

Entrepreneurs successfully trade places “Apprenticeship Style”

Staff and apprentices at Coleg y Cymoedd’s plumbing department are celebrating, as one of their own is crowned Wales’ top plumbing apprentice.

Scott Fuller, a second year plumbing apprentice studying at the college’s Ystrad Mynach campus, fended off rivals from across the country to become the Welsh representative at Heating Engineers Installers & Plumbers magazine’s Apprentice of the Year UK final.

The Welsh final saw Scott, 18, from New Tredegar, competing against apprentices from eight other colleges. During an intense four-hour contest each competitor tackled the challenge of installing a full shower system and boiler against the clock; Ultimately Scott’s technical skills and attention to detail earned him the title of Wales’ top plumbing apprentice.

Following his success at the event, held at Gower College Swansea, Scott will now go on to represent his country at the two-day UK finals, in Cheltenham on 30th April.

Speaking of his victory and the upcoming finals, Scott said: “It’s a great feeling to have been selected. The competition was tough, but I think my preparation and the support I’ve received from my tutors have paid off.

“The competition requires me to put in extra hours outside of my course, my work placements and a part-time job; but I think it’s worth it, I enjoy the work and I hope it will lead to me gaining the skills and experience I need to start my own business after college.”

As a Pathway to Apprenticeship Learner, Scott’s time is split between college based learning at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus, and on the job training with Newbridge plumbing firm, Aqua Gas.

Commenting on Scott’s success, Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Scott is a credit to our college; he exemplifies how hard work and dedicated tuition provide learners with excellent vocational opportunities and real jobs in a diverse range of industries and recognised trades. We wish him every success at the nationals”.

5 Star facilities at Coleg y Cymoedd inspire future chefs

Coleg y Cymoedd has this week unveiled another multi-million pound boost for further education in Caerphilly Borough.

The college is to invest around £4million into a major upgrade of its motor engineering and sports training facilities at Ystrad Mynach, while all of the college’s A Level learning will, from September, be located at the specialist A-level centre on the new £40m Nantgarw campus.

The investment will allow the Ystrad Mynach campus to further expand its already well-equipped vehicle workshop and specialist sports training unit, and at the same time give A level students from Ystrad Mynach 28 subject options; one of the widest choices in Wales.

College principal Judith Evans said: “The investment is a demonstration of the College’s commitment to ensuring Ystrad Mynach campus continues to provide standards of learning on a par with the best in Wales and that the college as a whole delivers top class further education to the whole Caerphilly and Rhymney Valley area.”

Referring to the 70 A level students moving from Ystrad Mynach to Nantgarw she said: “The move will bring major new opportunities to select from a wider range of subjects in the most modern educational environment in Wales and with access to an extensive range of recreational facilities and pastoral support services. We are confident they will have a much richer learning experience.”

The principal added that there would be a period of consultation about the practical aspects of the move but she said that students at Ystrad Mynach are already drawn from a wide catchment area, so travelling to Nantgarw would mean little difference in daily travelling times.”

Coleg y Cymoedd’s A-level Centre operates in partnership with St David’s Catholic College Cardiff and Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic School in Pontypridd and, with over 600 learners, it is now the largest A-level provider in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Mrs Evans added: “As we approach the end of the Coleg y Cymoedd’s highly successful first year, we remain committed to maintaining our position at the fore of further education in south Wales. Paramount to this is ensuring that our communities in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff are provided with access to the highest standards of education, training, facilities and partnerships with leading businesses.”

Green fingered learners put theory in to practice

Two teams of students from Coleg y Cymoedd impressed a panel of Wales’ leading marketers with a business proposal atBrolio/The Pitch, a challenge set by Sustainability Wales, The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Big Ideas Wales.

The teams competed against fellow college and universitymarketing students from across Wales, who presented their ideas to an expert panel. This challenge was supported and part funded by Welsh Government and aims to inspire young people to start their own businesses or consider a career in marketing.

The students chosen to represent the college were given a detailed brief by Sustainability Wales and asked to consider budgets, messaging and marketing tools in their presentations, to give them an understanding of a real-life business scenario. Students went through a rigorous process to be selected for the challenge by Coleg y Cymoedd Enterprise Champion Bob Tod.

The Coleg y Cymoedd BTEC Business students Rhys Llewellyn, Josh Jarrett and Laura Averiss competed under the team name Team Triumph”. Learners Connor Gratton and Carys Reville competed as “Team Absolute”.

Both teams presented excellent campaigns on different approaches to Sustainability. Team Absolute pitched their innovative concept of online receipts, while Team Triumph presented their idea of an ethical stationery business.

Student Connor Gratton of Team Absolute said: “I really enjoyed the whole event; I gained a lot of confidence from pitching to a room full of strangers. This experience will be really valuable for when I apply to university, both in looking great on my application and in helping with interviews”.

Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Marketing Anne Godfrey said: “CIM’s Brolio/The Pitch is a great opportunity for both FE and HE students to practice their marketing skills in a competitive environment. As ever I was amazed by the innovation, passion and skill exhibited by all of the teams despite their nerves! I hope all of the students came away with a real understanding of what it means to interpret and deliver a brief, pitch to demanding clients and win business. Their participation in Brolio can only increase their confidence, add value to their CVs and help their employability.”

Steve Andrews Marketing Lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “This was an invaluable experience which has greatly assisted the students in their understanding of marketing. Brolio/The Pitch is always a worthwhile competition, as it gets the students to apply theories and concepts to a practical situation. I have no doubt that this will assist them in their development not only in marketing but in business in general. All of the students worked very hard and went the extra mile to deliver an excellent presentation to the standard that was a credit to themselves and the college.”

He further added: “I’m immensely proud of them for all of the effort and commitment that they showed.” A Celebration event will be held for the students with Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans.

Student Rhys Llewellyn of team Triumph said: “This was a great opportunity, and I wasn’t as nervous pitching as I thought I would be! The chance to network and speak to other entrepreneurs has been fantastic; I would recommend the experience to anyone.”

The judging panel included included Jade Tambini, Marketing Manager at DS Smith Recycling, Rhodri Thomas, Training and Development Manager at Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales and renowned UK designer Angela Gidden MBE.

Valleys student switches track to head for Oxford

Two A Level students from Coleg y Cymoedd have been congratulated on their participation in a Mock Council of the European Union, held by the Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay.

A Level Students Chloe Ratcliffe and Matthew Cullen represented the college during the Mock Council of the European Union, where together with other young people from across Wales, they got a taste of the big issues affecting the EU and the way it makes decisions.

The annual event, which First Minister Carwyn Jones attended, is part of a wider programme involving students from colleges across Wales aimed at raising awareness of EU issues and the benefits of EU membership. This year’s motions to debate were the EU becoming a federation of nation states in response to the financial crisis, and the accession of new members to the EU following Croatia joining the EU.

Coleg y Cymoedd representatives Matthew and Chloe were assigned the Member State of Denmark for the Mock Council event. They had to debate the two motions, stating their counties views based on their investigations. They later fuelled the discussion and debated on these motions.

Matthew and Chloe were congratulated by the college for developing and demonstrating outstanding skills in communication, analytical thinking and leadership during the research and debates, as well as interpersonal and organisational skills and excelling in a professional environment.

The students were joined by young people from Jaunpiebalga Secondary School in Latvia. The Latvian Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Andris Teikmanis, and Mr. Andy Taurins, Honorary Consul for Latvia, also attended the event.

Elaine Griffiths who supported the students at the event stated taking “part in the EU Mock Council was an invaluable opportunity for Matthew and Chloe to test their debating and negotiation skills. The event provided an excellent platform for them to understand how the decision making process of the EU really works and the way EU makes decisions. It not only gave them an insight into the constitutional process but encouraged them to consider the wide range of opportunities open to them within the EU.”

Student Matthew Cullen said “Taking part raised awareness of the debates on European Union expansion and a European Federation. The benefits and detriments of EU membership, not just for Wales, but for the United Kingdom and other EU countries were highlighted with debaters contributing well-researched points; many of which caused us to stop and re-evaluate our own opinions. Taking part was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”

Inspiring Derrick overcomes sight challenges to learn new computer skills

Two students from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach campuses celebrate being in the winning team of “Apprentice” style Trading Places.

Students from six colleges across South East Wales have proved themselves to be the entrepreneurs of the future after successfully developing and running their own pop up shop in one of Cardiff’s iconic shopping destinations. The final day of the cross-college “Trading Places” competition was launched in spectacular fashion at 1 Royal Arcade in Cardiff, on Thursday 13th February 2014.

The three–day challenge, developed by First Campus at the University of South Wales, in partnership with the SE Wales FE Enterprise hub and the Morgan Quarter supported by the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales, helped the youngsters understand how they can become entrepreneurs by developing their “big ideas”. It began with 36 students from six colleges across South East Wales, who met for the first time at the University of South Wales’ ATRiuM facility on Tuesday 11th February. The students were split into six teams, with at least one representative from each college per team. Having enjoyed a range of ice-breaker and team building activities, the teams then got down to work with representatives from Business in Focus and Natwest, putting together a presentation outlining their USPs, sales skills and team strengths in preparation for their meeting with the ‘Bank Manager’.

In true “Apprentice” style, the tension was high as teams competed, on a first come, first serve basis, to get the products they wanted to sell in the pop-up shop. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, some of these products were romantically themed, enabling shoppers to purchase last minute gifts for that special person in their life.

The pop-up shop opened for business on Thursday 13th February and competition was fierce from the outset! Local businesses and members of the public were invited to come along and support this innovative venture and view the products on offer from each of the teams. All teams worked extremely hard with the total sales figures amounting to £1,128.88 (almost double last year’s amount).

Team Cariad which included representatives from Bridgend College, Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Gwent, College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg y Cymoedd and St David’s College) won the competition based on their overall achievement, their effective business management skills and the teamwork displayed throughout the course of the project.

Andrew Tummon, Relationship Manager with NatWest Business Banking, said: This was a fantastic event to be involved with. NatWest is working hard to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture in our community, and helping students build their skills and talents in this area is key to this. All the students worked tremendously hard over the three days and it was hugely rewarding to work with them as they developed and implemented their business plans. It was extremely difficult to choose a winning team but Team Cariad were particularly innovative in the way they developed their business plan and importantly how they adapted their sales strategy and pricing policy as the final day unfolded.”

Coleg y Cymoedd Ystrad Mynach campus student Melissa Francis, a member of Team Cariad said, “Winning Trading Places felt really rewarding; it was a challenging project enabling us to have an experience to see what running your own business felt like. At first it was about building your team’s strength but then everyone’s competitive side showed, I would recommend it to anyone. It wasn’t what I expected it was better!”

Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw campus learner Claudia Price was a member of the team that made the biggest profit on the day. She said: “I was really looking forward to selling, especially as it was the 13th February, the perfect opportunity to sell Valentines related products. Trading Places was a fantastic opportunity to open doors for me and to boost my CV. I want to open my own nursery in the future so gained a lot from the business aspect of this project. It was really helpful learning to manage money and receiving advice from companies such as Natwest. It feels amazing to be part of the team that made the most money.”

Chris Webb, Family Learning and Further Education Coordinator at First Campus commented; “First Campus aims to raise awareness and aspirations of Higher Education. We hosted the training days at the University of South Wales to give them a taste of university life and to make sure they leave knowing university is an option for them. Students are asking questions about Higher Education and their options for the future, they are keen to find out more, and I think that this project has worked fantastically”.

Green college sets example in improving sustainability

Ten aspiring chefs from schools across Wales took part in the regional finals of Springboard’s FutureChef competition, which was held in the professional kitchens at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus.

The FutureChef programme provides a yearlong opportunity for young people to take part in interventions delivered by the Hospitality Industry; these include various modules which coincide with the curriculum.

The competition helps young people aged between 12 and 16 years to learn to cook and inspires them to explore food and cooking as a life skill; by developing their culinary talent and informing them about entry routes into the hospitality industry.

Staff from the Catering department at Coleg y Cymoedd have been involved with mentoring and judging this competition for many years and are proud to be associated with such a prestigious event. The college strongly supports the competitions ethos of bringing forward the chefs of tomorrow, to join one of the fastest growing industries in Wales.

Coleg y Cymoedd Principal, Judith Evans said “ It is so important to encourage young people to explore the opportunities available to them and with support and guidance from industry experts, Springboard’s Future Chef competition is a fantastic way to do that. In 2012 we opened a 5 star kitchen and two demonstrations kitchens at our new £40m campus at Nantgarw and we are delighted to share these facilities for such a great competition”.

Once in the kitchens the young pupils were able to demonstrate their talents, preparing a two course meal under strict deadlines. This was the culmination of a highly competitive event with each pupil setting their sights on the National Finals and achieving the ultimate accolade – Springboard’s FutureChef winner.

Students support for Loki

A group of Land based studies learners have made their mark on their college grounds; putting their theory in to practice. The group, studying at the Rhondda Campus of Coleg y Cymoedd have spent the past four months giving the campus grounds a ‘make over’.

Tutor Janine Parry, said: It’s a great project for the learners to get involved with they’ve done a fantastic job so far and have already started to make a difference to the campus.

It’s always good when the learners can use the skills they have picked up on the course and put them into practice. They have all enjoyed getting their hands dirty and their hard work will be there for all to see in the coming months”.

The Level 1 Diploma in Land Based Studies (Horticulture) and Welsh Baccalaureate course is running for the first time at the Rhondda campus and has already proved a popular choice with learners; who are eager to progress on to higher level courses in the future.

Campus Director Sara Tutton said “The learners have been really busy around the grounds, they’ve already planted trees, hedgerows and bulbs, cleared beds ready for planting and have improved a plot of land ready for growing their own vegetables.

Last year, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission a Forest School area was created on the campus to give our learners the opportunity to experience an educational approach to outdoor play and learning. The horticultural learners have enhanced this area, adding bug hotels, a new footpath and more plans in the pipeline to build a log teaching area.

Not only will our learners benefit from the woodland training, but it’ll also provide an important community resource for local schools to visit and explore”.


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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