Learners prove they are a cut above the rest

Outfits that previously failed to find a loving home at an upmarket city centre charity store are hitting the catwalk after getting a complete revamp from talented Art and Design learners.

For the fourth year running, aspiring designers from Coleg y Cymoedd used their new-found skills to turn the clothes from the Oxfam Boutique Cardiff into a range of original ensembles, this year with an oriental theme.

Following the success of last year’s event, the eye-catching handiwork went on display during a fund-raising fashion show held at the college’s Nantgarw campus. The event was, once again, a joint enterprise between learners right across the college. Volunteers from the hairdressing and production arts make-up departments prepared the models for the catwalk, music technology learners provided the soundtrack, hospitality was provided by catering students and the whole event was captured on film by digital media learners.

The garments and collection of accessories created by the learners was entirely constructed from recycled materials such as paper and plastic, and fabric supplied by the Oxfam Boutique, which could not be sold by the shop.

The project’s aim was to encourage learners to consider the ethical issues associated with the fashion industry. Moreover, the exhibition gave the learners ‘real world’ experience in the promotion, organisation and management of a large scale event.

Rhonwen Powell, 18 from Tonyrefail, an art and design student at Coleg y Cymoedd, said “I was so glad to be part of this project. It has been a great learning experience, and it’s really exciting to think that our work will be on display and up for sale again to the public.

“Upcycling unwanted clothes is a really worthwhile project, especially when the proceeds will go to charity.”

Following their catwalk debut, the upcycled creations will return to the high profile Oxfam Boutique on St Mary’s Street, Cardiff to be sold in store, with all proceeds going to Oxfam.

Claire Samuel, manager of Oxfam Boutique Cardiff has said, “This is a fantastic collaboration, and a great opportunity to inform a younger generation of the great work being done by Oxfam nationally and worldwide. The work the learners created is excellent.

“It has made for a fantastic visual display in the Oxfam Boutique and engages the public with Oxfam’s mission to lift people from poverty. Many thanks to all the departments in Coleg y Cymoedd who made this possible.”

Alistair Aston, tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Working with Oxfam Boutique has been a really positive experience for our learners, enabling them the opportunity to gain an understanding of the vital issues that Oxfam support.

“They have worked with a real energy and enthusiasm, creating Japanese inspired garments, graphics and jewellery that will be exhibited during a catwalk show and retailed at Oxfam Boutique Cardiff. Working across disciplines and departments on a live brief has provided a real showcase for the talent that is being developed within Coleg y Cymoedd.”

ould Coleg y Cymoedd students be the nation’s next budding entrepreneurs?

Coleg y Cymoedd is among the joint winners of a British Council award for helping to improve the lives of marginalised young people in the UK and abroad.

The College jointly received the British Council New Partnership Award with Coleg Gwent, West Lothian College and youth organisations overseas for its effort in removing barriers to employment for young people both at home and abroad in Wales, Scotland and Morocco.

In addition to providing support for young people in Wales and Scotland, the partnership has made a real impact to the lives of vulnerable young people in Morocco – a country which has seen a large increase in the number of vulnerable people engaging in technical and vocational education.

The partners developed a range of interactive learning resources and have already recruited more than 100 young vulnerable learners onto employability programmes.

Partners of the project collected the award at a British Council conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Karen James, Campus Director at Coleg Y Cymoedd said “It has been a wonderful experience for all the Coleg Y Cymoedd staff to work with The British Council, Bayti and AIDA. It has been very rewarding to be able to help children and staff from a different Country and culture however many of the problems are similar to those in South Wales. We hope that the partnership will continue.”

People from vulnerable backgrounds often lack the skills and support to secure long-term employment. In Morocco this population includes prisoners, school drops-outs, disabled people and beneficiaries of the National Initiative for Human Development.

The aim of the project, launched in June 2014, is to change the attitudes of employers towards this group and to actively develop the soft and life skills of the young people themselves. The long-term vision of the project is to replicate the innovative new approach across Morocco to support young people in their search for employment.

The new approach piloted by the partnership included technical training, pastoral support and employer engagement to ensure that young people are supported in developing their skills and building their futures.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s role in the British Council project was to share staff expertise in working with NEETS (people not in education, employment or training) focusing on the learner and offering valuable skills through training.

Coleg y Cymoedd shares the award with their partners in the project from Coleg Gwent, West Lothian College, AIDA, a development charity specialising in education and human rights programmes for young people, and Bayti, a Moroccan organisation working with vulnerable young people.

The project is part of the British Council’s programme for skills development and vocational education, and offers those who are traditionally overlooked by employers the opportunity to receive training and gain valuable skills.

Assembly Member impressed by Coleg y Cymoedd’s budding politicians

A group of tutors from the South Wales Valleys have transformed themselves into the gruesome ‘walking dead’ as part of a terrifying charity Zombie Run.

15 tutors from Coleg y Cymoedd invaded the college’s Aberdare Campus in a frightful spectacle which saw them run riot, scaring many of the learners along the way. 30 thrill-seeking learners tackled the Zombie Run course to raise money for charity.

Learners ran the length of the course designed around and throughout the Aberdare Campus, as the tutors dressed in their best zombie attire jumped out at them along the way, as if in a Hollywood zombie scene.

The chilling event was organised computing, plumbing and electrical learners at Aberdare. While proceeds are going to charity, organising the event will be used as evidence towards the learners’ Welsh Baccalaureate.

19-year-old Matthew Bullock, who studies Level 3 in Computing at Coleg y Cymoedd, said, “I’ve really enjoyed organising and taking part in the zombie run. It has been excellent for team building with my classmates as I only started at the college in September. My tutor Michaela Jones has been fantastic at supervising us to make sure we organised a good event,”

17 year old Abi Jones from Perthcelyn who studies Level 3 Computing said “Organising and setting up the zombie run was hard work but has been really rewarding. My tutors’ hard work has been invaluable. Although it was pretty scary, I’d like to be involved in an event like this every year.”

Tutors were made unrecognisable as petrifying zombies by a group of media make up learners, who have previously been involved in BBC and S4C productions.

Having just completed the Zombie Run, Mark Thomas, Campus Director for Aberdare, said, “What a brilliant event! The learners who organised the Zombie Run should be extremely proud of themselves. This event will not only benefit their learning, but also raise money for charity, and it has been a great success.”

The chilling event was organised by computing, plumbing and electrical learners at Aberdare, who were all tasked with various aspects of the event.

The ‘plumbers’ and ‘electricians’ were given the mission of planning the finishing line and provision of refreshments. They stepped up to the challenge, providing an impressive balloon arch and sugared treats to boost the energy of those who had completed the gruelling course.

The Computing learners were responsible for planning the logistics of the event which required initiative and energy. The learners sourced ‘props’ and equipment from local organisations and suppliers to ensure the full effect was achieved. On the day their physical stamina was required as they set out the course which included mud pits, water slide and tunnels; to catch the runners as they dodged the zombies. Following the event the learners set about clearing the obstacles and returning the equipment to those who had kindly supported their event. While proceeds are going to charity, organising the event will be used as evidence towards the learners’ Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.

Due to the success of this year’s Zombie Run, discussions are underway to include a similar event at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach campuses.

Local Pearson Teaching Award Winner in-line for UK Gold National Teaching Award

An ambitious Coleg y Cymoedd alumni who started as a foundation learning student is now completing a Master’s degree in Psychology and planning to complete a PHD.

24 year old Jolene Hughes from Pontypridd began her journey at Coleg y Cymoedd on a foundation level catering course and progressed onto a Level 2 Beauty Therapy course. Jolene caught the bug for education and completed an Access to Humanities course at the college to progress her to university.

Although originally wanting to study Law at university, the Access to higher education in Humanities course ignited a passion for Psychology which encouraged Jolene to undertake a BSc Hons in Psychology at the University of South Wales.

Jolene, who was very nervous about education when joining Coleg y Cymoedd at the age of 16, now strives to complete a PHD in this area then undertake the additional training following this to become a qualified Health Psychologist.

Jolene said: “My tutor Gail was particularly supportive. Working with her and in a college environment gave me the confidence I needed to progress. I never thought I would be doing a Masters never alone planning to do a PHD and become a Health Psychologist!”

Tutor Gail Pritchard said: “I am so proud of Jolene, her hard work and commitment to her studies, combined with the support she has received has taken her all the way from a foundation level course to postgraduate education. I wish Jolene every success in the future and hope other learners can use her inspiring story as the catalyst to pursue and achieve their own goals though education.”

Coleg y Cymoedd learners dream ‘evolves’

Two learners from Rhondda Cynon Taff have made it through to the final of a UK-wide skills competition where they will demonstrate their passion for hairdressing at the nation’s largest skills event.

Bethan Walters and Ashleigh Simmons, both learners at Coleg y Cymoedd, achieved first and third place respectively at the Welsh regional finals held at Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire, earning them a place amongst 15 others from across the UK to go through to the WorldSkills UK Final which will be held at the NEC in Birmingham next month.

Having safely secured their place in the final from over 1000 initial entrants, both girls are now in the process of preparing for the three day competition, organised by L’Oréal Professional Product.

The competition will involve three stages over three days, including completing both female and male styles, standard of cut, colour and finish and replicating a style from a photo, to ensure they possess the main skills of a qualified hairdresser.

If placed in the top three, the girls will earn themselves a place representing the UK at WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi, 2017.

Bethan, 19 from Taffs Well, spoke of the upcoming event, “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I got first place at the regional finals, I almost didn’t believe it when the judge said my name! I am really nervous about the finals in November but I have been practising a lot with my tutor Ann Hopkin to prepare myself.”

Ashleigh, 18 from Trelewis, who hopes to one day work as a hair stylist on cruise ships, said “I have taken part in five competitions before but nothing as big as WorldSkills. It’s a nerve wracking experience but I have had great support from my college tutor David Bassett.”

WorldSkills UK plays a key role in raising esteem of learners and inspiring young people to explore further education, skills and Apprenticeships.

Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We’re extremely proud of Bethan and Ashleigh for achieving first and third position at the Welsh regional finals. They have the skills, dedication and confidence to seriously compete at this UK event and we wish them all the best at the forthcoming final.”

Porth learner is hoping experience at SkillsCymru will help new business venture

A team of Coleg y Cymoedd catering students are one step closer to winning a £3000 helping hand to see their business dream become a reality.

Future Foods, made up of Liam Williams (17) from Llantrisant, Robert Haycox (17) from Ferndale, Lauren Quinn (19) from Tonypandy and Flynn Randell (17) from Pontypridd have been shortlisted for the team Edge Challenge prize alongside just two other student teams from around the country. A further six individual contestants have also been shortlisted.

The Edge Challenge is a competition set up by independent education charity, the Edge Foundation in partnership with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and the Gazelle Colleges Group. It aims to help young entrepreneurs get their business start-up off the ground.

Teams of up to five people or individuals were asked to submit a detailed and viable business proposal including financial and marketing plans.

Future Foods innovative idea –Monkey Nuts, a mobile van selling healthy food to students, staff and the public – has set them apart from the competition and they have made it through to the next stage.

The next hurdle is a business pitch to a panel of judges in London, alongside the other shortlisted candidates from around the country.

Then, the top two teams and top three individual pitches and will be invited to showcase their ideas at The Skills Show, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from November 13-15th.The winning team will take the first prize of £5000 to develop their idea. The top prize for individual entrants is £3000 and six months of mentoring from a top businessman, 2nd and 3rd prizes of £1250 and £750 will also be awarded.

Future Foods say: We are all very excited about the opportunity to represent the college in this amazing and exciting challenge. We named our team Future Foods as we are all catering students looking forward to the opportunity to open our own business as a team. We would like to thank our much dedicated tutors Mr Kevin Hall and Ms Paula Marsh for keeping with us throughout our journey with the Edge Challenge.”

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of independent education charity, the Edge Foundation, says:

“At Edge we believe there are many paths to success for young people to take and becoming an entrepreneur is certainly an excellent and exciting route to choose. I wish Future Foods the best of luck ahead of the London panel.”

Peter Jones CBE, Founder of the Peter Jones Foundation says: “Future Foods have done a superb job in getting to this stage of the Edge Challenge. This competition really demonstrates the talent young people have, not just in thinking up new ideas and products, but in following them through and creating viable businesses. At the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, we work hard to instil these entrepreneurial attributes in our students and I am delighted to see Future Foods leading the way. ”

Fintan Donohue, CEO Gazelle Colleges Group, says: “We are delighted to see the Edge Foundation and our colleagues from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, embrace the wider definition of entrepreneurship. Many of the young people in the competition may never actually take forward their own business but the experimentation with start-up has developed a mind-set that will strengthen their employment prospects.

“At Gazelle, enterprise competition is becoming an integral part of student experience. The student role models that are winners today help create a culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship in the colleges they come from.”

Catering courses are offered at our Aberdare, Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach campuses. Please call a campus to discuss joining a full time or part time Catering course, either for 2014/15 as a late starter, or for next September 15/16.

Sleeping Rough for homelessness

Learners from Coleg y Cymoedd joined young people from schools and colleges across Wales at the Ty Hywel building, Cardiff bay to take part in a Mock Council of the European Union. A group of visiting students from Flanders also participated in the event; representing the U.K.

Assembly Member for Pontypridd, Mick Antoniw, welcomed the visitors to the chamber and introduced the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.

The annual event, now in its 7th year is hosted by the Welsh Government as part of a programme to raise awareness of EU issues and the benefits of EU membership.

Kimberley Corderoy and Dafydd Williams studying on the A2 programme at Coleg y Cymoedd represented Romania at the event; researching the arguments for the motions and actively debating their views. Both enjoyed the event and were great ambassadors for the college.

The motions included ‘Whether the EU should set a target for each Member State to produce 40% of its electricity from renewable sources for 2014 and perhaps more topical, ‘whether regionsbecoming independent of EU Member States should be admitted in the EU immediately’; the Mock Council voted overwhelmingly against this motion.

Fellow learners, Morgan Williams and James Date, both studying on the Cache level 3 course represented Malta; they made an excellent team and at the end of the event Morgan stepped up to the podium to discuss an issue she had raised with the representative from the EU Commission.

Morgan said” I really enjoyed the experience, I was quite nervous to start with but throughout the day I gained the confidence to debate the issues and was amazed that I actually got up on the podium to raise my point. The event has given me a better understanding of how the EU works”.

Following a lively debate Mr Antoniw said “The Mock EU Council is a unique event, which gives learners from across Wales the opportunity to demonstrate their debating skills & Knowledge of how the EU works, in the prestigious setting of the National Assembly.

The event was a great success, with all learners rising to the challenge and engaging to produce two very high quality debates. The event also exposed the myth that young people are not interested in politics – given some of the superb contributions”.

To conclude the days programme the group of young people were given a tour of the Senedd and the opportunity to have photographs with the Assembly Member.

Rhondda learner realises her TV dreams in Edinburgh

The Engineering Team at Coleg y Cymoedd is off to London to attend the star studded UK final of the Pearson National Teaching Awards hosted by TV historian Dan Snow.

Back in May of this year, members of the Engineering Team were recognised for their exceptional contribution to the teaching profession as one of just 59 Silver Teaching Award winners in the UK.

On Sunday 26th October, the Engineering Team and the other Silver Award winners, will attend a glittering ceremony at London’s Guildhall Great Hall, to find out which of them has been selected to win a National Pearson Teaching Award, also known as a Gold Plato Award. The ceremony, hosted by Dan Snow, and filmed by the BBC, will see the announcement of just 11 Gold Plato award-winners, representing the very best of the UK’s teaching profession.

The Pearson Teaching Awards are an annual celebration of exceptional teachers and teaching, founded in 1999 by Lord Puttnam, they recognize the life-changing impact of an inspirational teacher on the lives of the young people they teach.

The ceremony will be broadcast on BBC2 at 6pm on 2nd November as “Britain’s Classroom Heroes”.

The Engineering team comprises 24 staff with a range of exceptional expertise in aeronautical, electrical and mechanical engineering; their team is united in their clear vision, to be the best provider of engineering apprenticeship training in Wales”. There are currently over 300 full and part time learners enrolled on Engineering programmes ranging from entry level qualifications to a Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering. Many of these learners are apprentices and many are sponsored to attend college by their employer. The team is committed to providing the highest quality educational standards in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for their students.

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.”

President, UK and Core Markets, Pearson, said: “Everyone can remember a teacher who inspired and challenged them so it’s important to say thank you. It is great teaching that makes the biggest difference to learning and that’s why great teachers must be recognised”.

Merthyr learner cooks her way to America

From a young age Callum Jenkins knew he had a flair for hairdressing and wanted to follow a career in this profession. At 16 years of age he enrolled on a hairdressing course at his local college and on completion, spent several years working in a local salon in Neath.

Relocating to Rhondda Cynon Taf he decided to further his academic qualifications and in 2013 enrolled on the level 2 Beauty Therapy course at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus. In the same year he enrolled on the level 3 Hairdressing programme on the Nantgarw Campus to complete his qualifications.

Callum really enjoyed the courses and with the support of his tutors explored the opportunities of running his own business. Passionate about offering a unique experience for the community; Callum established Evolve Hair & Beauty in July 2014.

Not forgetting the importance of his own training experiences; Callum contacted the college to offer student work placements at his salon. Course tutor Denise Thomassaid” Callum was always an extremely motivated student and his skills in dealing with the clients was second to none. Evolve offers our current students a first class placement and I am confident that Callum will ensure they have every opportunity to practice their skills in a supervised setting, he is a talented stylist”.

Evolve salon is located in the heart of the community and offers a full range of hair and beauty treatments for men and women. Callum said” It has always been my dream to run my own salon. When I returned to study at Coleg y Cymoedd the tutors were really supportive, signposting me to additional courses and professional advice on running a business. I am fortunate to have colleagues who are qualified to offer beauty treatments such as nail treatments, facial waxing, lash/brow tinting, lash extensions and spray tanning who work out of my salon – which means we are able to offer a complete beauty package to the clients.


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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