A-level drama student hopes to act ‘eight days a week’

Recently students studying at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Aberdare campus provided visitors, staff and learners with a whistle stop journey to some of the world’s most popular holiday resorts.

The students from three areas of the campus – Computing, Travel and Tourism and Hospitality worked together as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification; to host an extremely interesting and professional exhibition.

The Level 3 Computing students were responsible for the organisation of the exhibition. They were tasked with booking the venue, setting up the display boards, advertising the event and also inviting the guests.

Students studying on the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Travel and Tourism created display boards on typical tourist destinations. The boards featured details on accommodation, climate and attractions in the resort and the learners chatted to the visitors, providing general information.

To complement the displays, City & Guilds Hospitality students, produced dishes from the regions; which proved a big hit with everyone. The dishes included Italian pizza served with salad filled parmesan baskets, ‘Far Bretonne’, which is a French prune and brandy cake originating from Brittany and Spanish tapas dishes.

The event proved a great success, with a steady flow of both internal and external visitors viewing the displays and sampling the cuisine. After a tour of the exhibition all visitors were asked to vote on each stand and dish.

To conclude the event Joan Siddle, Vice Principal Learner Services and Support presented a certificate to the best in each category. Kathryn Carter received the best presented and tasting dish and Mitchell Jones was awarded the best Travel and Tourism display. Congratulating the winners she praised the work of all the learners, stating they were all winners! Mrs Siddle also mentioned the opportunities which may arise in the future of possible student exchange visits to some of the countries featured in the displays.

Coleg y Cymoedd winners stock up on new skills

Two Coleg y Cymoedd students have achieved literary recognition from the world’s most well-known online book retailor, Amazon, who will stock their book exploring the South Wales Valleys during the 1984/5 miners’ strikes.

Natalie Butts Thompson and Deborah Price, who are students at the college’s Aberdare campus, are the co-authors of a fascinating new book exploring the adversities and community spirit of Rhondda Cynon Taf during the strike period.

Their book ‘How Black were our Valleys’, was officially launched at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Aberdare Campus where the authors are both studying towards a Foundation Degree in English and History, which is run in partnership with the University of South Wales.

The book was started during Natalie and Deborah’s work placement with the National Union of Mineworkers. During that placement, the pair were tasked with compiling case studies of those involved in the 1984/5 strike, which saw hundreds of miners across Wales and the UK downing tools in protest of Margret Thatcher’s planned colliery closures.

Having travelled the length and breadth of the South Wales Valleys to interview ex-miners and their families, the authors realised that their work had ultimately provided the content for a book in its own right.

Speaking of her personal inspiration for the book, Natalie Butts Thompson, said: “When Margret Thatcher died, my youngest daughter didn’t even know who she was. It’s important to keep the memories of these struggles alive as they’re an important part of Welsh history.”

Commenting on the project, Deborah Price said: “We learned of personal experiences and emotions that are still raw today. The whole experience was exciting and enjoyable.

“A lot of work went into getting the book ready for publishing, but because the topic was so interesting it didn’t feel like work at all”

As a fitting tribute to the communities affected by the strikes, all profits from the book’s sale on amazon.co.uk will be donated to the South Wales Area Miner’s Beneficiary Fund. The Fund provides assistance to ex-minors and their families.

To purchase your copy of ‘How black were our Valleys’ please visit: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Black-Were-Valleys-Commemoration/dp/1495399494

Find our more about our Foundation Degree in English and History at: /courses/all-courses/course-detail-test-page.aspx?c=26273

Spotlight shines on outstanding education professionals

Performing arts technology students at one of Wales’ largest colleges have been putting their skills into practice after being asked to help create monstrous adversaries for the newest incarnation of Doctor Who.

Six students from Coleg y Cymoedd have completed a two-week placement with the prosthetics department at the BBC’s state-of-the-art Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff Bay and out on location across south Wales.

Prop student Lorna Hinton and make-up students Kelly Jones, Faye Evans, Kelly Jenkins, Janette Webster and Jessica Palmer were able to observe and assist the crew during the filming of the award–winning series with newest Doctor Peter Capaldi.

Kelly Jenkins, 22, from Merthyr Tydfil, who is in her second year of the foundation degree in performing arts technology, said: “I absolutely loved my work experience because it was really beneficial to see how a TV show comes together and how everyone plays a role. I got to stick on and remove prosthetics that cover the entire head and it’s made me realise that I definitely want to go into the prosthetics side of production make-up.”

This round of work experience is the latest in a series of placements for Coleg y Cymoedd students at BBC Wales, with last year’s students securing four make-up and one prop placements for Casualty and a further four make-up and one prop placements for Welsh-language drama Pobol y Cwm.

Kelly Jones, 28, from Cardiff, who was one of the students who had a placement on Casualty last year, said: “During the Doctor Who filming we were able to network with people in the industry which was really helpful, and we talked to the stars too. We were treated just like everyone else – even coming to the studio for 4am – so it was great to get stuck in and practice what we’d learnt at the college.”

Jane Beard, course leader for performing arts technology at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “The BBC has been really kind to offer the students access to the Doctor Who sets as a learning experience. We pride ourselves on the range of opportunities we offer students and it’s great to get them out into the working world meeting people who could become their employers in the future.”

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “The students are very lucky to have Jane Beard as a tutor who has many years of the production industry under her belt. Equipping our students with the right skills, attitude and knowledge that enables them to secure employment or higher education places soon after completing their courses is rooted in everything we do at the college.”

College students lend their ears to the BBC

A proposed Welsh Language Scheme has been developed for Coleg y Cymoedd and is out for public consultation. The proposal is based on the former Coleg Morgannwg Welsh Language Scheme and has been amended following the merger with The College Ystrad Mynach, on August 1st 2013. The Scheme sets out how the college will treat the English and Welsh languages on a basis of equality, taking into consideration the guidelines provided by the Welsh Language Commissioner and ColegauCymru.

The College has adopted the Welsh Government’s principle of mainstreaming and will consider the Welsh language in all aspects of its work and in everything it does. The aim is to ensure that every opportunity is taken to promote and support the Welsh language, which will include planning, providing and evaluating services in Welsh and English.

Judith Evans, Coleg y Cymoedd Principal said “As a college we are committed to the Welsh Language and promoting bilingualism. We want to make a significant contribution to the Welsh Government’s vision of a truly bilingual Wales; our new college has a Welsh name to reflect the college’s bilingual aspirations as well as its involvement in the valleys of South East Wales”.

A copy of the Scheme can be found on the College website /cymraeg or by phoning 01443 663096. Comments are invited from members of the public on the draft Scheme by e-mailing david.finch@cymoedd.ac.uk or by letter to: David Finch, Deputy Principal, Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw, Heol y Coleg, Parc Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QY. The consultation will end on 30 May 2014.

College welcomes Estonian Visitors to learn about education in Wales

An A-level student from Llantwit Fardre is one step closer to her acting dream after getting through to the next round of auditions for Paul McCartney’s drama school in Liverpool.

Jenna Claridge, 18, who is studying for her A-levels at Coleg y Cymoedd, wowed the judges at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts during her first audition. She has received a call back to secure herself a place at the former-Beatle’s prestigious acting institution to study a one-year foundation course in Acting and Musical Theatre.

After fighting off competition from hundreds of applicants to make the call back Jenna is hoping to be in the top 18 to enrol in September and join the likes of successful indie rock band The Wombats and presenter Dawn O’Porter on the list of alumni.

Not content with putting all her eggs in one basket, however, budding star Jenna will be also be auditioning at the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey.

This term will continue to be busy for Jenna as she has recently landed the female lead in a stage performance of Les Miserables. The Orbit Youth Theatre production in Cardiff will see Jenna playing Fantine, the character performed by Anne Hathaway in the 2012 Hollywood blockbuster.

Jenna is in her second year of studying A-levels in English, drama and Welsh Baccalaureate at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus and says she owes her recent achievements largely to her drama teacher, Rebecca Francis-Jones.

Jenna said: “Miss Francis-Jones has been so supportive to me and all of my classmates. She is great at boosting your confidence and makes you believe you are good enough to go for these auditions. She’s such a resourceful teacher and she is the reason her class achieved a 100 per cent pass rate at AS Level.

“I’m really excited about giving my acting career a go and would love to study in Liverpool. With my brother being in the Navy I’ve always had an interest in the military, so if it doesn’t work out I’d like to enter the RAF, which is about as different as you can get from the treading the boards.”

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, congratulated Jenna on her achievements so far. She said: “Jenna is excelling in her craft and I’m sure she will go far in whatever she chooses to do. At the college we place huge emphasis on equipping our students with the right skills, attitude and knowledge so that they can secure employment soon after completing their courses or go on to higher education. We would love for Jenna to come back to share her experiences with next year’s A-level students. We wish her the best of luck with her auditions and performances of Les Miserables.”

Learner focused college recognised by NUS Wales

Two learners from Coleg y Cymoedd beat thirty-six other teams to pick up first prize at a simulated Global stock challenge at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Learners Anthony Samuel from Church Village and Jonathan Land from Rhiwbina, Cardiff who are studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT at the college competed alongside other colleges and sixth forms to face dynamic quick changing world scenarios. The challenge involved reacting swiftly to events to keep the value of their shares.

Four teams of two students from Coleg y Cymoedd took part in the competition to trade in a simulated Global stock market Challenge being held at Cardiff Metropolitan University in collaboration with First Campus.

The players worked in pairs on two linked screens: one for the Investment Analyst and one for the Media Analyst. Their task was to increase the value of their team’s starting fund by buying and selling shares in twelve companies and three commodities.

Alongside ferocious practice all teams representing Coleg y Cymoedd received mentoring from a representative from HSBC. Overall the teams scooped 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th place ensuring that all four teams made the top ten.

Learner Jonathan Land said: “Not only was it an enjoyable and fun experience it also helped me improve my verbal communication, team working skills and also money management which I will really need as I head off to Exeter University in the Autumn!”

Tutor Libby Williams said: “What a fantastic event to be involved in! All the students gained tremendously from the day, not only learning about the fast-paced world of investment markets but also the importance of team work, problem solving and analysing data. These are valuable transferable skills that employers are calling out for. I am immensely proud of their efforts; they were a credit to Coleg y Cymoedd.”

Tutor Barbara Hayman said: “My Year 1 students who took part in this event were delighted to be placed in the top 10 out of the 37 college and sixth-form teams that took part. I too am very proud of their achievements.”

The winners will now visit the Faculty of Business at Treforest Campus, University of South Wales for a workshop in their Trading Room.

Visit of Wales’ Oxbridge Ambassador to Coleg y Cymoedd

The Engineering Team from Coleg Y Cymoedd in Cardiff has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious 2014 Pearson Teaching Awards.

Finalists were selected from over 20,000 nominations made this year and The Engineering Team joins a list of exceptional teachers who are the stars of the education profession.

Finalists will find out if they have received a Pearson Teaching Awards on Thank a Teacher Day, 16 May 2014.

The Pearson Teaching Awards were established by David (Lord) Puttnam in 1999, to celebrate and recognize outstanding educational professionals.

Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, president of the Teaching Awards said: ‘I am genuinely proud and honoured to be the president of the Teaching Awards. I owe so much of what I’ve done to my fantastic teachers at school and university and it is exciting to join in celebrating what is probably the most important profession of them all.’

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK said: ‘Supporting the Pearson Teaching Awards gives us a unique opportunity to champion exceptional teaching professionals across the UK. Pearson has long held lifelong learning to be at the heart of all its business. All young people deserve the very best chance to make progress in their lives through education. That is why we believe it’s vital to recognise inspirational teachers, for their commitment to teaching and learning and improving the life chances of the next generation.’

Coleg y Cymoedd scoops top prize at High Sheriff Awards

Students from Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly based Coleg y Cymoedd have been enlisted to give their views on the BBC’s UK-wide music radio networks.

More than 40 students and staff took part in an event hosted by BBC Audience Council Wales (AWC) to gather the views of audiences on the BBC’s music radio stations, which will contribute to the ACW’s advice to the BBC Trust as it conducts a service review of those stations.

The discussion was held at the College’s Nantgarw campus and offered students the opportunity to express their personal opinions on the output of BBC Radio 1, Radio 1 Extra, Radio 3, 6 Music and the BBC Asian Network.

One of the students to take part in the discussion was Rhodri Parker, a second year Level 3 BTEC computing student at the College’s Nantgarw campus.

Rhodri Parker, 18, from Cardiff, said: “I was one of the first to sign up to the discussion, and as a Welsh speaker I was particularly keen to express my views on the need for Welsh language programming to better cater to a younger audiences. This was a rare opportunity to provide direct input to the BBC and I hope our contributions were helpful.”

Findings from the discussion will be used alongside the results of other outreach events to inform the Council’s advice to the BBC Trust.

Sion Brynach, governance coordinator and secretary to Audience Council Wales said: “The Council’s events at which members hear directly from audiences are always interesting, but it was great to experience the enthusiasm of both staff and students for BBC music radio during the event at Coleg y Cymoedd. Radio clearly plays a significant part in many people’s lives and it was great to be able to hear, at first hand, what staff and students at Coleg y Cymoedd enjoy, and what they think could be improved in the BBC music radio output. The Council greatly appreciated the welcome afforded by the college and its help in hosting this event”.

Karen Phillips, deputy principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “We are delighted to have been asked to host the BBC Audience Council Wales for the second time. Our College is proud to represent students from across the South Wales Valleys; I hope that the dynamic nature of our student body and staff has presented the BBC with an opportunity to gain an accurate representation of our communities’ views.”

Rebecca is ‘Endsleigh Student of the Year’

Coleg y Cymoedd recently welcomed visitors from Estonia for a guided tour of the Nantgarw campus and to investigate how educational institutions in Wales recognise prior learning for students entering back into education or changing route in their studies.

Ten visitors including four delegates from Foundation Innove and six directors of study from different vocational colleges and training centres in Estonia took part in the visit to Wales which was coordinated by Agored Cymu.

The group visited on a European funded trip as part of the work they are doing to ensure that member states of the EU establish national systems for the validation of informal learning as part of the EU strategy for creating jobs and growth.

The group were tasked to find out more about how educational institutions recognise informal learning in Wales and were particularly interested in how further education colleges use Recognition of Prior Learning and how the system of Quality Assured Lifelong Learning is applied.

John Phelps, Vice Principal of Teaching and Learning at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “We, at Coleg y Cymoedd, welcome visits from international partners because it enriches everyone’s learning experience, both staff and learners. We shared our processes and policies relating to recognising prior achievement and experiences and pitfalls that we have identified and how we implement these systems in partnership with City and Guilds who approached us as one of their partner colleges we work closely with.”

As well as the visit to Coleg y Cymoedd, the group visited, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Acorn Learning Solutions and met representatives of Welsh Government, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, Creo Skills, Siawns Teg and YMCA Community College. The group has also visited the Netherlands to see how their Recognition of Prior Learning system works in contrast.

Janet Barlow CEO of Agored Cymru said “It’s always a privilege to share our approaches to learning with colleagues from other countries and discover how much we have in common as well as how much we can learn for one another”.

Foundation Innove was established in 2003 by the Government as a non-profit foundation that coordinates the lifelong learning development activities and implements the relevant programmes and projects and the EU structural aid.


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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