College shows Minister the changing face of further education in the Valleys

The Strategic Management Team at Coleg y Cymoedd has been congratulated by NUS Wales for their commitment to the ‘voice of the Learner’ at Coleg y Cymoedd’s recent Learner Voice Conference.

Over 80 learners from the Aberdare, Rhondda, Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach campuses attended the first Learner Conference of the newly merged college. Student Executive, Rhiannon Llewellyn welcomed the Learner representatives and the Strategic Management Team to Llewellyn’s, Aberdare campus and also thanked Beth Button, Vice President NUS Wales for taking time out of her busy schedule to attend the event.

Addressing the audience Beth gave an overview of the work of the NUS and stressed the importance of events such as the Conference to gain the views of learners; which in turn would be used to lobby ministers on local and national campaigns. She applauded the Principal and Management Team for the importance they place on gathering the views of the learners and acting on them; which was evident from their attendance and participation at the Conference.

The days programme got under way with a team challenge requiring the creative skills of both learners and staff. The programme then moved on to discuss how well the College supported a learner’s progress during the course, which led to useful discussions on the use of ILPs and the tutorial system. Finally teams were asked to consider how their progression is managed in terms of next steps to higher levels at FE, university, apprenticeships or employment.

Judith Evans, Principal & Chief Executive said” I thoroughly enjoy the Learner Conferences it is refreshing to spend quality time with the learners listening to their views. It is pleasing to know that learners enjoy their time with us and the feedback we have gathered today will help us to further improve the learner experience, with a stronger focus on support and planning next steps in the learner journey”. The Principal thanked the staff and learners for a very informative day and assured them that their feedback would be discussed and the necessary actions taken to address any issues

The Conference concluded with a delicious hot buffet, prepared and served by the Hospitality & Catering students at the Aberdare campus.

Valleys lecturer celebrates 50th cap with the Welsh rugby squad

Coleg y Cymoedd have recently hosted a meeting of the Rhondda Cynon Taff More Able and Talented Committee, with special guest Paul Murphy, MP for Torfaen, former Secretary of State for Wales, and current Oxbridge Ambassador for the Welsh Government.

Mr Murphy met with some of the colleges More Able and Talented A-Level learners studying in the dedicated Sixth Form Centre at the State-of-the art Nantgarw campus, who are hoping to apply for Oxbridge next year. One of the lucky students was Shannon Britton, current A-Level student who recently became the first student from the College to be given a conditional offer to read English Literature at Oxford.

The Torfaen MP was appointed to the position of Oxbridge Ambassador by former Education Minister Leighton Andrews in March 2013. He has spent the last year visiting schools and colleges across Wales looking at the reasons behind the proportionally low numbers of Welsh students applying to and gaining places at the two universities, and at what can be done to reverse this trend.

Representatives from a number of RCT schools and colleges met with Mr Murphy and Dr Jonathan Padley, Schools Liaison Officer for Churchill College, Cambridge, to review progress and to discuss future strategy.

Head of A-Levels at the Coleg y Cymoedd Sixth Form Centre Ian Rees said: The RCT More Able and Talented programme has been of significant benefit to our most able students in our first ever cohort of A-Level students, with three students being given interviews at Oxford/Cambridge University, and one being given a conditional offer of a place. We also have a very promising group of AS students coming through, who we will hope will be even more successful. Paul Murphy’s visit will hopefully give fresh impetus to the drive to raise learner aspiration in Coleg y Cymoedd, helping students to aim high and have the self-belief to go for it!”

Paul Murphy said: “It was great to visit Coleg y Cymoedd and hear about the work of the Rhondda Cynon Taff More Able and Talented Committee. They are doing some excellent work to support their more able students and have achieved a great deal in only a few years. I hope that schemes like theirs can be replicated in other parts of Wales, ensuring that our students have the confidence and support to aim for the very top.”

Visit to Williams gets ‘green light’ from students

18 year old A Level learner Jenna Claridge was awarded the prestigious award of the High Sheriff Cup, which is held for one year. She received the pivotal award of the evening from Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner, in front of an audience of distinguished guests.

The High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan Youth Community Awards ceremony is an annual event, which this year took place at the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Felindre Meadows, Pencoed. The awards acknowledge the excellent work undertaken by the youth in the community.

Following a welcome by Matt West, General Manager of the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Rory McLaggan- High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan announced the winners.

From a strong entry of nominations Jenna was selected from a short list of five nominations to take first prize in the Individual Category. Jenna was nominated by Janice Watkins, RCT Youth Worker who described Jenna as a caring and responsible young woman.

Jenna from Coleg y Cymoedd became involved with Services for Young People at the age of just 13 years and champions the rights of young people in the community, consulting with them and adults about provision in her area.

She persuaded Youth Forum members to become part of “Our Rights Project” which has raised the profile of young people in her area, and given them a voice to feedback to the Cabinet at Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC; on issues of concern to them. As a result of her commitment to this, in 2013 Jenna was elected as Rhondda Cynon Taf Youth Mayor.

On receiving the Awards Jenna said “I am delighted to have won the awards, especially the High Sheriff Cup. There are so many fantastic individuals and projects here this evening, I am grateful to Jan Watkins for nominating me.

Photographer: Keith. E. Morgan

College rugby stars selected to represent Wales

Coleg y Cymoedd learner Rebecca Thomas, 20 years from Trecynon, Aberdare has been named Endsleigh Student of the Year, at this year’s two-day annual NUS Wales Conference which was held at the Pierhead, Cardiff.

Student Union representatives from across Wales gathered to set the priorities for the year ahead, debate the future of NUS Wales and elect new leaders. The event marks the 40th anniversary of NUS Wales and the annual democratic event provides a great place to network with students and activists from across Wales. Delegates also had the opportunity to hear from inspirational speakers.

The highlight of the Conference was the NUS Wales Awards Ceremony which recognised excellence in academic, vocational and extra – curricular areas. From a strong field of over 90 nominations Rebecca’s contribution to the college was recognised, giving her the prestigious title – Endsleigh Student of the Year.

Rebecca’s contribution to the college has been made as a representative on the Learner Voice Forum and she has been extremely active in her role spending hours of her own time making a difference for her fellow students.

In addition, Rebecca has been working closely with the New Horizons Mental Health Team and Friends R us Support Group, accompanying learners to sessions, arranging trips and generally encouraging and supporting them.

Welfare Officer Laura Wilson stated “The College is delighted that Rebecca received this much deserved award – Endsleigh Student of the Year. She has made a huge contribution to the college, especially with her work with mental health. She’s an enthusiastic representative and is always keen to help and support various events at the college. Our Learner Voice Forum is taken seriously and our learner’s views are central to the decisions taken by the Senior Management Team at the college.

Rebecca said” I am honoured to have been nominated for the Student of the Year Award and would like to thank Laura Wilson for nominating me. Through my role as Student rep., I have been given the opportunity to get involved with so many events and projects. My work with New Horizons Mental Health team and Friends R us has given me an insight into the issues experienced by some of our learners and I’m pleased to be able to offer them support and make a difference in their lives”.

Beth Button, Deputy President NUS Wales said” The panel of judges were really impressed by the level of dedication Rebecca has shown to improving the lives of her fellow students in her college. Having worked with Rebecca this year I can safely say the work that she does is inspirational and she is truly deserving of this accolade”.

Chefs in the making…

Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, saw first-hand how further education in the Valleys is embracing the challenges set for it by the Welsh Government.

A visit to the Coleg y Cymoedd’s £40million Nantgarw Campus and engineering department, presented Mr Skates with an opportunity to see for himself the state-of the-art campus and facilities.

Accompanied by Principal, Judith Evans, and Deputy Principal, Karen Phillips, the Deputy Minster viewed the college’s ultra-modern science labs and A-Level Centre, which provides a selection of 28 subjects to over 500 students each year. He also met apprentices from British Airways who are studying alongside apprentices from a range of leading engineering businesses

He also toured the Nantgarw Campus’ specialised hair and beauty salon and top-of-the-range hospitality kitchen facilities, which provide vocational learners the opportunity to train in a professional standard environment.

Mr Skates was also briefed on Coleg y Cymoedd’s continuing work to rejuvenate further education provision in the Valleys, including its plans for a new £20m campus in Aberdare and a £4m upgrade of its Ystrad Mynach campus.

Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We’re grateful to the Minister for taking the time to visit us and personally discover the opportunities we are providing to learners in the Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly. Our learners also enjoyed the opportunity to share their experiences with Mr Skates.

“I hope that this visit has given a real insight into our mission to strengthen the South Wales Valleys through excellent educational provisions and an understanding of our desire to provide all of our communities with the calibre of facilities enjoyed by learners at the Nantgarw campus.”

Welsh apprentice plumber turns the heat up on national rivals

A college lecturer from the Valleys who never handled a rugby ball until she was 17 is celebrating winning her 50th cap with the Welsh women’s national rugby squad at this year’s RBS Six Nations tournament.

Catrina Nicholas, a sports lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, described stepping out on to the field to represent her country at Talbot Athletic Ground in Aberavon as “an honour and a privilege”.

The 31-year-old lecturer from Tonteg first picked up a rugby ball as part of her sixth form team before going on to study and play for UWIC, now known as Cardiff Metropolitan University. Today, in addition to representing her country at the national level, Catrina plays with Cardiff Blues region club, Llandaff North Ladies.

When she’s not on the pitch, Catrina can be found teaching BTEC level Sports and Public Services at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus. Her students include a number of the college’s own men’s rugby squad, among them players attending the Cardiff Blues Academy, which is based at the Nantgarw campus.

The Academy is designed to hone Wales’ next generation of stars with the facilities and tuition to develop their skills on the pitch, while simultaneously studying towards qualifications that will allow them to pursue careers outside of professional rugby.

Speaking of her sporting milestone, Catrina said: “I feel truly privileged to have been selected to represent my country, and to have won my 50th cap in the tournament during a Women’s Rugby World Cup year. My sporting career to date has been incredibly rewarding, and I love being able to use my experience to teach Wales’ future professional athletes and trainers.

“My 50th international match was made even more special by the fact that the match also saw three of my Llandaff North Ladies team-mates gain their first international caps. Women’s rugby in Wales is still in its early years, but I believe that this year’s squad is our strongest yet.”

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, congratulated Catrina on her achievement. She said: “Catrina’s successes are an inspiration to all of our students. Each time she sets foot on the pitch in a Wales jersey it’s a demonstration of what passion and dedication can achieve. Best of all, the athletic skill she displays on the pitch is rivalled only by the academic excellence she exhibits in the college. Our students are very lucky to have her.”

Coleg y Cymoedd announces further investment in Caerphilly Borough

A group of learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have been given an insight into Formula 1 racing; with a tour of the factory of one of the world’s leading motorsports racing teams – Williams F1. The visit was designed to give the learners an insight in to the profession and the opportunity to speak to those working in the industry.

The learners, studying on the Motorsport and Pathways to Apprenticeship Level 2 course at Rhymney campus recently visited the Williams Formula 1 headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire. The impressive modern building with mirrored windows and hanger doors gave away no secrets as to the activities taking place behind them!

The group were met at the Conference Centre by Simon, their guide for the day. He welcomed the group and started the visit with a tour; giving the students a unique insight into life at ‘Williams’.

The excitement levels shot up as Pastor Maldonado’s 2013 race car came in to view. The best performing car of the previous year is given pride of place at the entrance; with Jacques Villeneuve’s 1997 championship winning car hanging directly above it.

After the initial excitement the learners were treated to a short film detailing the history of the team and its drivers. Following the film the screen swept open revealing a collection of cars, beautifully arranged and lit. The forty plus cars have a special place in the history of Williams and their importance has earned them a place in the garage.

Simon answered the learners’ questions, such as ‘how the skills they are learning now willbe used in practice in the future’ and ‘career options available in the industry’. He also provided background information about the team, cars and drivers.

To end the tour the learners were given the opportunity to sit in a F1 race car; this was easier said than done as it was a tight fit, even for the smallest and fittest.

Learner Sherrie Cullen said “This was a fantastic opportunity, I really enjoyed the visit to the Williams factory and speaking to Simon made me realise that a career with a Formula One Team is achievable – if you set your sights on it and work hard to achieve the qualifications”.

Thanking Simon, Course Tutor Paul Jones stated “Our students have thoroughly enjoyed the visit and your knowledge has inspired them. Hopefully they will continue to progress with their studies and who knows in the future they may be taking future learners around the factory!”

College students pitch against universities at prestigious Marketing Event

After a season to date that has seen Coleg y Cymoedd win almost all of their games in the WRU Under 18 league, the college can further celebrate the news that 11 players have been called up to the Wales Under 18 squad.

Wales under 18 head coach Allan Lewis has selected a 35 man squad for forthcoming international matches against France and England. Almost a third of this squad is made up of learners from Coleg y Cymoedd.

Speaking about the test, Allan Lewis said, Playing these Tests against France and England will be a great challenge for this squad, especially with a one week turnaround between matches.

The competition for places in the group has been keener than ever, with players involved in the WRU Under 18 League pushing for places in the Regional Under 18 squads and we are pleased with the skill levels we have seen in training.

Both France and England will bring a physical challenge and will test us in attack and defence but they will provide a great yardstick as we go forward.”

Clive Jones Director of Rugby for Coleg y Cymoedd said “Being selected for their age group national side is the pinnacle for these aspiring young players. To have 11 boys selected is testament to the quality of our squad and the level they have performed at. All the boys have shown exceptional commitment to a demanding programme and this selection shows the rewards are there for their hard work.”

The first match takes place on Saturday 15th March and will see the team face France in Chartres. Wales Under 18’s only home international of the season, against old enemy England and will be televised live on S4C. The match kicks off at 1.45pm at the Gnoll, Neath. Tickets can be purchased from the Gnoll Ticket Office on 01639 636585 in advance or can be bought on the day. Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for under 16s.

Following these forthcoming games, Lewis will reduce the squad ready for the FIRA-AER Under 18 European Championship in Poland at Easter.

Kieron Assirratti (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ Wattstown), Lewis Kirby (Ospreys / Pencoed Col/ Bridgend Ath), Dillon Lewis (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Keagan Bale (Dragons/ Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Robert Lewis (Blues/ St Peters / Coleg y Cymoedd), Leon Brown (Dragons/ Newport High), Harrison Walsh (Ospreys / Bishopgore/ Mumbles), Liam Belcher (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets / Llandovery College / Llandovery), Adam Beard (Ospreys / Neath Port Talbot College/ Morriston), Matthew Dodd (Ospreys / Olchfa / Dunvant), Seb Davies (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pentyrch), Calum Haggett (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Gilfach Goch), Josh Middleton (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Kidwelly), Tom Phillips Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Llangennech), Jon Fox (Ospreys/ Gower College / Swansea), Jordan Viggers (Blues / St David’s / St Peter’s), Harrison Keddie (Dragons / Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Matthew Marley (Blues /Coleg y Cymoedd/ Pentyrch), Joshua Macleod (Scarlets / Bro Gwaun / Crymych), Josh Cole (Ospreys / Neath Port Talbot College / Tonmawr)

Matthew Aubrey (Ospreys / Gower College/ Pontarddulais), Michael Hale (Blues / Glantaf / St Josephs), Carl Lewis (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd/ Treorchy), Thomas Williams (Gogledd/ Rydal Penrhos / Newtown), Jarrod Evans (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Dan Jones (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Quins), Owen Watkin (Ospreys / Bridgend College / Bryncethin), Joe Gage (Ospreys/ Ystalyfera / Abercrave), James Whittingham (Blues / Cowbridge), Morgan Williams (Gogledd/ Coleg Llandrillo / Caernarfon), Rhys Gealley (Ospreys / YG Gwyr/Pontarddulais), Ellis-Wyn Benham (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ St Joseph’s), Lloyd Lewis (Dragons / Ysgol Gwynllyw), Curtis Povey (Blues / Colg y Cymoedd / Ystrad Rhondda)


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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