Celebration for Caerphilly learners and tutors

A 20-year-old business student from Porth is hoping to use her experience volunteering at SkillsCymru – one of Wales’ largest career and skills events, taking place later this month – to help expand her family’s bakery business in Tonyrefail.

Rosie Davies, who is currently studying a Level 3 BTEC in Business at Coleg y Cymoedd, was hand-picked to help out at the event after applying through her college, and will be coordinating and running the social media channels during SkillsCymru, taking place at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff from 22-23 October.

The business student will work with a team of 40 other event volunteers, who will all have the opportunity to develop communication, organisation and team-working skills at the SkillsCymru event in Cardiff.

Rosie applied to volunteer at the event because she is hoping that the experience will provide her with practical, hands-on experience in marketing and event management. Since starting her business course last September, Rosie has been using the skills she has learned and is applying them to help generate new business for her mum’s bakery in Tonyrefail as well as hoping to use her business acumen to set up her own business.

Rosie will focus on trying to branch out the bakery into new markets by selling her mum’s freshly made bread, sandwiches and cakes to coffee shops, tea rooms and nursing homes across the county.

Rosie said, “My mum’s business has so much potential to grow and expand within our local community. My course has taught me how to develop existing businesses by looking for new markets to break in to. I identified the opportunity for my mum’s business earlier this year when I was chatting to other business students and decided to use the skills and knowledge I have learned during my course to help grow the business.

“I was delighted to be selected to coordinate the social media at SkillsCymru because I want to understand, and learn how to apply social media for commercial purposes so I can use it to help mine, and my mum’s business to succeed and prosper. It’s all very exciting.”

Caroline Challoner from Cazbah, the organisation running the volunteer programme, said: “As well as being a brilliant way to gain work experience to help them in their chosen careers, the volunteers at SkillsCymru will simultaneously have a good opportunity find out about the vast number of career options available to them in Wales.

“Rosie is a bright, intelligent young woman with real business acumen and a drive to succeed. We’re confident she’ll excel in her role at SkillsCymru, which promises to be a first-class, unmissable event for those looking for inspiration into jobs, learning and skill opportunities across Wales.”

The volunteers have been recruited from schools and education providers across Wales to carry out roles including film presenters, social media coordinators, evaluators and stewards.

Over 40 organisations have already signed up to be a part of SkillsCymru 2014, including NHS Wales, the Royal Air Force, Navy and Marines, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Cymru, Welsh Government (Food and Drink), Visit Wales, S4C, The Princes Trust – Cymru and the British Army. This year’s events are being organised by Prospects and Cazbah, and supported by the Welsh Government and Careers Wales and part funded by the European Social Fund.

Student turns teacher at his old college

Learners and staff from Coleg y Cymoedd have voluntarily slept out under the stars to raise a considerable contribution for Shelter Cymru, the Housing and Homelessness charity.

Thirteen learners from the BTEC Level 3 Health and Social Care course and their tutors slept outside on a cold Thursday night to raise money for the charity which acts to target issues with homelessness, a topic that the learners have been studying.

To ensure an authentic experience the group also decided to busk on the steps of the Ystrad Mynach campus to passing students and staff leaving college at the end of the day to try to raise money to be able to have dinner. Profit from this was then also donated to Shelter Cymru.

The Care learners also promoted Shelter Cymru to fellow learners by creating life size posters to display around communal areas of the college depicting homeless people with thought-provoking questions such as “Do you see me?”.

The group’s efforts on the day and in the months leading up to ‘The Big Sleep’ managed to fundraise over £300 to go directly to the charity.

Tutor Kirsten Stevens-Wood said: “This experience was extremely important for the learners as they fully appreciated and empathised with the lifestyle some people are forced to endure. Experiences like this teach our learners far more than can be conveyed in a classroom“.

Learner Alicia Quarterly said: “Although sleeping rough was difficult I’m so glad I got involved, it really opened up my eyes to how difficult daily life can be for some people. I’m really happy we managed to raise so much money for the charity”.

Tutor Karen Stratford-Davies said: “We are very proud of the learners for participating enthusiastically and raising money and awareness for the important cause of homelessness, especially in the approach to the colder weather and Christmas”.

Welsh learners full of eastern promise

A young woman from Rhondda has taken her first steps towards a television career as she returns from an invitation only training scheme with experts from the likes of BBC, ITV2, Endemol and Sky News.

Shauna Ryall, 19, from Porth, was one of just 50 young people from across the UK to travel to Edinburgh to take part in The Network – a four day crash course for students in the TV industry which has launched the careers of some of the most recognised presenters and celebrated directors.

Shauna is in exclusive company, as she is only one of two from Wales to earn a place on the scheme having applied for her place whilst in her final year of A Level studies at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus.

The Network, which takes place during the Edinburgh International Television Festival each year, saw Shauna take part in master classes on behind the scenes production, and eventually take on the roles of the assistant producer and floor manager in a two hour TV show, which was treated to all intense and purposes as if it was airing live.

Speaking about her time in Edinburgh, Shauna said “I initially wanted to pursue a career behind the camera but The Network opened up so many opportunities for me, and I really enjoyed being an assistant producer.

“One of the best things about the scheme was being able to speak with likeminded people who are just as ambitious to enter the television industry. We were up at 6am every morning to start workshops and there was plenty of socialising in the evenings too!”

Shauna is still reaping the benefits of the training scheme, as The Network provides a yearlong mentor for each person who attended, to give guidance on upcoming interviews and help create connections and networks for the aspiring young people. Shauna is being mentored by Mog McIntyre, who has previously worked on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show.

As part of The Network, Shauna will also be privy to exclusive jobs and opportunities through an additional work placement scheme called The Network at Work, which offers the chance to apply for paid entry level roles at top industries and broadcasters across the UK, starting next January.

Having recently completed her A Levels in business and photography at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus, Shauna is currently working as a self-employed photographer, where she has been busy building a reputable name for herself in the area.

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We’re extremely proud of Shauna, who we fully expect to be a big name in TV in the future. She embodies the confidence and ingenuity we try and instil in all our students no matter what path they take after college. We are also really pleased that while she waits for her big break in television, she is putting the skills she learnt at Coleg y Cymoedd to good use. We wish her all the best.”

Apprentices on track for a first-class career preparation

A catering student from Merthyr Tydfil has returned from the USA where she has been showcasing her cooking talents to young people as part of the Camp America programme.

Coleg y Cymoedd student, 23-year-old Eloise Powell has spent her summer in the Hamptons, New York, passing on her cooking talents to young people after falling in love with baking while recovering from spinal surgery.

At the age of 14, Eloise was diagnosed with scoliosis; a curvature of the spine. She was finally able to have surgery to address the problem in 2011.

It was during the long recovery that Eloise decided to make the switch from the hairdressing course she had originally enrolled on to study professional cookery at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach Campus.

Having enjoyed baking since she was a little girl, Eloise is now determined to teach cooking in a further education environment and took part in the Camp America experience to give her a good grounding in working with young people.

Eloise said: “My operation inspired me to really push myself in my career, I now have the drive and determination to gain experiences that I would love to bring back to Wales in the future.

“Coleg y Cymoedd could not have been more supportive of me, and the course has given me the confidence to be more inventive in my cooking. I want to inspire others to work hard to pursue their dreams, something that I would not have realised without the relationships I have with my catering tutors.”

Eloise is the first catering student from Coleg y Cymoedd to be accepted onto the Camp America program, a camp provider that sends over 7,000 young people to work at camps in all 50 states of the USA every year.

The young chef will spend eight weeks in New York devising her own syllabus and teaching students how to develop their cooking.

Kelly Jennings, a previous coordinator with Coleg Morgannwg’s Boost Programme which promotes extra-curricular activities, helped Eloise with the Camp America application process. She said: “I am immensely proud of Eloise’s achievements, and it was a pleasure to share her journey to America with her. Eloise has been busy with other commitments around college, keeping on top of her coursework whilst finding time to complete other enrichment opportunities, and has still found the determination to secure herself a place in Camp America.”

In the final preparation stages before the big move to America, Eloise could not begin to express her excitement at the opportunity: “I am most looking forward to cooking with young people, and gaining the skills that I will need to become a teacher in the future. The different culture in New York is daunting, but I cannot wait to explore; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I hope to do as much as I can whilst I’m there.”

Green investment lights the way for Coleg y Cymoedd

A former business student at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach Campus has returned to his old classroom as a teacher as part of his PGCE studies.

Andrew James, 25, from Merthyr Tydfil, was a student on the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Business from 2005 to 2007. He now has plans to become a tutor of business in an FE college and went back to his old course to gain some valuable teaching experience.

After college Andrew went onto study Business Management at the University of South Wales and then found employment at a healthcare company in Cardiff. However, two stints in America teaching at Summer camps led Andrew to the decision that he was more suited to the classroom than an office environment.

Andrew was encouraged by his old tutors at Coleg y Cymoedd to return to college to study a PGCE and they even offered him the chance to gain teaching practice on his old course.

Speaking of his experience, Andrew said: “I loved the experience of working with young people while I was in the USA and when I got back in touch with my college tutors they couldn’t have been more supportive in helping me to work towards my teaching qualification.

“The business course at Coleg y Cymoedd was a fantastic springboard to university and provided me with some real, practical experience that I used in the workplace, such as a working knowledge of the SAGE accounting and business systems.”

Since 2012 Andrew has been teaching the human resource units on the BTEC in business at Coleg y Cymoedd.

He continues: “When I went back to college as one of the tutors I was able to give the students a really honest view of what the course can offer and how they can use it to their advantage in looking for work or university places.

“The tutors are so supportive and I owe them a lot as they’ve been spurring me on personally for almost 10 years now. I originally chose the course at the Ystrad Mynach campus because it had a good reputation and I am so glad I did, I am always reminding the students how lucky they are to be gaining such valuable practical skills.”

Sam James, a business tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Andrew really made the most of the opportunities given to him while he was with us, even being part of the team that won the UK Key Skills Challenge competition in 2007. I’m delighted to hear he is now considering a career in teaching and the college was only too happy to give him a helping hand during his PGCE studies.

“Having tutors on our courses who can offer real-life business experience is something we place a key focus on as it means our students are far more prepared to hit the ground running when they move onto the next stage of their education or career.”

Coleg y Cymoedd enjoys first celebration of exceptional learners

Adult learners, tutors and education staff came together for a special ‘Celebration of Achievement’ evening at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus on Tuesday 16th September.

The evening recognised adult learner and tutor achievements in community education throughout the Caerphilly county borough including learners from Coleg y Cymoedd.

Award winners from the college were Basic Skills Learner Michelle-Ann Clothier picking up the Essential Skills for Life Award and Derrick Goodwin, an ICT learner at the Ystrad Mynach campus who achieved the Senior Learner Award.

The Community Group Learning award went to Phillipstown Family Engagement Group who, in partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd, encouraged learners to attain a Key Skill in Improving Own Learning through Mathematics and Essential Skills Level 1 in Numeracy, as well as attending courses in Encaustic Art, Sugar Craft and Christmas Crafts.

Phillipstown Family Engagement Group was also named as Caerphilly Learner of the Year 2014. This small group of parents has undertaken a wealth of training, with the help of Coleg y Cymoedd, and in doing so have forged strong friendships and become an inspiration to other parents.

The award for Tutor of the Year, sponsored by Coleg y Cymoedd, was presented to Sharon Edwards. Sharon, who has been a tutor for the council’s Adult Community Learning team for the past 18 months, said: “Teaching to me is about more than passing on skills and knowledge. It’s about finding a way around the barriers to learning and encouraging people to think about what they can do, what they want to do and how they can achieve it.”

Mayor of Caerphilly county borough, Cllr David Carter, said: “I was delighted to be able to attend this event and help celebrate the achievements of learners, tutors and education staff. Throughout the evening we heard some very inspiring stories from learners who had enrolled in community education in order to reach their goals, and I hope that others will take advantage of the array of learning opportunities available throughout Caerphilly county borough.”

The event was organised by the Caerphilly Learning Festival Planning Group; made up of people from a number of learning organisations, all working to introduce people to learning. In 2014 the group facilitated taster sessions for over 1,200 people in the county borough through Adult Learners’ Week.

Elizabeth Millington, winner of Further & Higher Education Learner, said: “I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to learn a new subject or get back into education to do so. It’s very easy to think that you are too old or set in your ways to make a change but that change can be very rewarding and a valuable experience. We only get one chance at life and I definitely believe we should make the most of it”.

Other award winners were Beatrice Webb Care Plan Writing Group for the Employee in Learning Award, Kelly-Marie Morris for the Digital Champion Award, Katarina Winston-Jones for the Family Learning Award and Joshua Jehu for Young Adult Learner Award.

Award sponsors included Robert Price Builders’ Merchants, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Niace Cymru, Communities 2.0, Janro, Parent Network, Educ8, Caerphilly’s 50+ Forum and UHOVI. Entertainment during the evening included music from Cefn Hengoed Ladies’ Choir.


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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