College celebrated as exemplary employer

Catering learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have been given the unique experience of an ice sculpting master class from the experts.

Twelve learners on a Level 3 Professional Cookery course at the Ystrad Mynach campus learnt to carve swans out of blocks of ice as part of a demonstration and hands on workshop from specialists The Ice Academy.

The Ice Academy‘s other clients include Mercedes-Benz, the Celtic Manor, Lloyds Bank and John Lewis. Their television experiences include Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience, BBC Sports, Football Focus, Scrum V and The One Show.

The learners watched and replicated a block of ice being carefully chiselled into a swan with small hand tools. They undertook the process stage by stage with careful monitoring and comparison to the demonstration.

The learners worked in pairs and created six realistic swan sculptures in just three and a half hours. The impressive ice swans were proudly displayed for guests at Scholars restaurant.

31 year old Laurajean Turk from Blackwood who studies Level 3 Professional Cookery said: I have never experienced anything like this before and I really enjoyed it. Using chisels on something so delicate made you slow down and concentrate, really improving your skills”.

James Lewis, (17) from Treharris said “The ice sculpturing activity gave us the opportunity to do something not many people have done; it improved our steady hand skills. We are very proud of what we achieved and will be using the finished sculpture for a buffet presentation in the future “.

Laura Giles Owner of the Ice Academy said: “We were really impressed with the learners and the level of concentration they applied to this extremely challenging activity”.

Head of Catering at Coleg y Cymoedd Paula Marsh said: “Ice sculpting is a brilliant opportunity for the learners to explore their creative side and gain experience in working three-dimensionally. This sort of experience is really valuable for those in the catering industry as it could be applied to other forms such as fat carving and fruit carving.”

Coleg y Cymoedd players selected for the Wales under 20 Six Nations Squad

A group of care learners battled the Dragons Den with unique enterprise ideas to raise money for the Crohn’s association.

Learners studying Level 2 Childcare and Education developed viable business ideas for fundraising activities to present to a panel of handpicked judges in a Dragons Den themed challenge.

The business ideas included a Sweet stall (Candy for Crohn’s Day), Coffee stall (Cuppa for Crohn’s Day), Name the Teddy, and Pamper Hamper Raffle. The learners completed a full cost analysis and business plan which was used to ‘sell’ to the Dragons.

The profit raised was donated to the Crohn’s association. Local organisations pledged items to sell which allowed the learners to finalise business ideas and present to the Dragons in a professional manner. These items were also donated to the charity.

Learner Hannah Barrow said “The Dragons Den challenge was a very valuable experience, it was nerve-racking being in front of the judges but we believed in our business ideas and had put a lot of effort into making them feasible and compelling for the Dragons.”

Childcare tutor Sharon Reed said “The learners thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were very successful in gaining sponsorship for these. I am very proud of the group and the effort they have put into this, they certainly rose to the challenge.”

The Dragons were convinced to donate their cash/items sponsorship to each of these entrepreneurial ideas. Coleg y Cymoedd offers enterprise opportunities to learners through the Welsh Baccalaureate and internal and external challenges.

College sports new apprenticeships for the pitch

A Coleg y Cymoedd learner was runner up for an Inclusion and Diversity in Sport award in a ceremony to commemorate hardworking volunteers in Caerphilly.

17 year old Callum Sapey from Blackwood who studies Level 3 Sport at the Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd was nominated for the work he has done with a disability holiday programme and disability football team.

Volunteers were nominated for awards based on their outstanding contribution to sports and leisure within Caerphilly. Volunteers were recognised for contributing more than 200 hours of voluntary work within Caerphilly in 2014.

At a very young age Callum Sapey began assisting at the disability sport holiday programme to support his brothers so they could both experience physical activities. Callum attended all of the disability half term programmes without missing a day, even attending the day he collected his GCSE results.

Callum also runs the Pont Dragons disability football team as he recognises the importance of children and young adults with additional needs taking part in sport. Callum consistently works on ways to improve, not only the activities for children, but his own personal skills.

The Sport Caerphilly volunteer Awards Evening was held at Bryn Meadows, Maesycwmmer on the 29th January to celebrate the achievements of sports volunteers within Caerphilly County Borough.

Callum narrowly missed out to Peter Key won the Inclusion and Diversity award for his efforts with swimmers within the Caerphilly County Borough. Peter has been head coach of the Caerphilly County Swim Squad for 25 years, as well as head coach of The Dragons Disability Swim Squad for the past 10 years.

Head of Sport at Coleg y Cymoedd Neil Smothers said: “It was fantastic for Callum to be nominated for this prestigious award, he deserves recognition for the hours of voluntary work he has done for a variety of sport initiatives within Caerphilly. At Coleg y Cymoedd we encourage our sport learners to take part in local sport programmes to build their experience and give back to the local community”.

Guest speaker during the awards was Kingsley Jones, head coach for the Newport Gwent Dragons.

Cllr David Poole Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services said: “I was delighted to see that the hard work of sports volunteers within Caerphilly County Borough is being rewarded, as they work tirelessly to make sure that residents are given the best tuition and support possible. I would also like to thank Bryn Meadows, CC Sports, Andrew Orchard Photography, Uprise Print, Sport Wales and Caerphilly County Borough Council for sponsoring this wonderful event”.

Coleg y Cymoedd is awarded £100,000 grant to fund innovation

Education Minister, Huw Lewis, has announced the Welsh Government’s support for Coleg y Cymoedd’s new £20million Aberdare town centre campus.

Speaking at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus, he said that the Government has identified the scheme as a priority building project for its 21st Century Schools Programme and will be working with the college to develop a business case to allow it to access up to £11million towards the total project costs.

The new, state-of-the-art campus in the heart of Aberdare town centre is intended to replace its current facility at Cwmdare.

The new campus will be located off Wellington Road, close to Aberdare railway station.

The intention is to regenerate the currently derelict 2.7 acre site to serve up to 800 learners; incorporating industry-standard facilities to further enrich the education and skills training currently offered at the existing campus.

The site’s proximity to Aberdare railway station, the new Aberdare School and the town centre will provide learners and staff with significantly improved access to public transport and commuter links from outlying areas.

Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We are delighted that the Welsh Government has announced its commitment to support us in achieving our latest investment that will provide our learners with the very best facilities and development opportunities.

“The new campus will exemplify Coleg y Cymoedd’s mission to make excellence in education and skills development a reality for all learners in the communities we serve.

“The college is committed to working in partnership with the new campus’ neighbouring schools to develop a curriculum which complements and enhances their own offerings.

“On behalf of the entire college, I would like thank Welsh Government, our staff and governors for sharing in our vision to change the face of post-16 education in the South Wales Valleys.”

The facility’s construction will incorporate the latest sustainable building materials and will provide an aspirational facility for both learners and staff.

Cymoedd learner and venue selected for best young chef in Wales cook-offs

Coleg y Cymoedd has been awarded a prestigious accolade for its dedication and commitment to creating an equitable and flexible workforce.

The college, which employs over 900 staff across its five campuses in the Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly Boroughs, was recognized as an ‘exemplar employer’ by economic development charity Chwarae Teg.

The award is reserved for businesses and organisations that display excellent employment practices, including dedication to equality and diversity in the workplace that goes above and beyond their legal responsibility.

Coleg y Cymoedd received the award in recognition of its work to raise awareness of employee rights and responsibilities to ensure a sustained culture of equality and flexibility within the college.

Working in partnership with Chwarae Teg, Coleg y Cymoedd has conducted full reviews of its working practices to develop staff training and engagement programmes and flexible working provisions for all staff.

Joy Kent, chief executive at Chwarae Teg, commented on the success of the award: “Coleg y Cymoedd recognise the real value of putting equality and diversity at the heart of what they do. There is a strong business case for adopting this approach because it has been shown to improve productivity and make organisations more sustainable.

“I congratulate Coleg y Cymoedd for their commitment to creating and progressing a diverse and flexible workforce.”

Chwarae Teg works to create an environment in Wales in which women can achieve and prosper and, as a key part of this, promotes progressive employment practices. The award recognises organisations and businesses throughout Wales that go the extra mile to ensure equality and diversity in the workplace.

Commenting on the award, David Spencer, human resources officer for Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Coleg y Cymoedd strives to be an employer of choice, promoting a healthy and supportive working environment, while appealing to the workforce of the future by promoting a culture of equality and flexibility.

“The College is very proud to receive the award and will continue to build on its existing good practice going forward.”

‘Tis is the awards season for Coleg y Cymoedd

Three learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have been selected to play for the Wales Under 20’s rugby squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

Coleg y Cymoedd learners Liam Belcher, Dillon Lewis and Seb Davies who are all forwards training with the Cardiff Blues Academy have been selected to represent their county on the Under 20’s team. All three were an integral part of the elite rugby programme at Coleg y Cymoedd from 2012 to 2014 while studying at the Nantgarw Campus.

The WRU international pathway staff have selected a 32 man squad for the forthcoming Under 20 Six Nations, which will be led by Ospreys lock Rory Thornton.

England is first up with a home match at Parc Eirias on Saturday 7 February (7.30pm) to kick off Wales’ Six Nations campaign.

National Academy coaching manager Allan Lewis, who will coordinate the coaching of the side said, We have a young and exciting group of boys with some experienced players from last season.

“We have a clear coaching and playing philosophy which underpins our ultimate aim of developing capable and rounded players for the senior national team. Such aspects obviously take time but game management, heads up decision making and enhancing skills under pressure are key parts of that”

“England will be a huge challenge, as double world champions, but one that we will relish and embrace.

Vice Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd, John Phelps added “We are delighted that our learners have been selected for the Under 20’s Wales squad. It is a fantastic opportunity and great experience for them to represent their country. Hopefully this is a taste of what is to be a successful professional career for these talented players.”

Supporters are urged to purchase tickets for these games soon to avoid disappointment. Tickets for both matches are on sale now from the official WRU website (, from, by calling 01492872000 or to personal callers at Colwyn Leisure Centre and Venue Cymru, Llandudno.

Prices have been frozen for the second consecutive year, meaning seated tickets are £15 and terrace tickets are £10 with £5 tickets for Under 16s and OAPs.

Hospitality is available at £100pp (inc VAT) from Richard Orme: 01492 577914, and both matches will be shown live on television, with the England game featuring on S4C and the Ireland game to be shown on BBC Wales.

Wales U20 home Six Nations fixtures:

Wales v England Sat 7th Feb 2015 7.30pm (S4C)

Wales v Ireland Fri 13th March 2015 7.45pm (BBC Wales)

Wales Under 20 Six Nations squad:


Luke Garrett (Dragons), Harrison Walsh (Ospreys), Dillon Lewis (Blues), Alex Jeffries (Dragons), Joe Jones (Blues), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Liam Belcher (Blues), Torin Myhill (Scarlets), Joe Davies (Dragons), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Seb Davies (Blues), Tom Phillips (Scarlets), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), Harrison Keddie (Dragons), Jordan Viggers (Blues), Rory Bartle (Gloucester).


Tom Williams (Blues), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Owen Davies (Dragons), Daniel Jones (Scarlets), Callum Sheedy (Bristol), Garyn Smith (Blues), Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Danny Cross (RGC), Barney Nightingale (Dragons), Joshua Adams (Scarlets), Rhys Williams (Leicester), Elis-Wyn Benham (Blues), James Whittingham (Blues), Dafydd Howells (Ospreys).

Cymoedd learners inspired by Shauna’s workshop

Independent education charity, the Edge Foundation has announced today that Coleg y Cymoedd has been selected as one of the recipients of a grant from the Edge Innovation and Development Fund.

The grant fund was established in the year of Edge’s 10th anniversary to support innovation in technical, practical and vocational education.

Coleg y Cymoedd has been awarded £100,000 to set up a Centre for Excellence to deliver high quality training for railway engineers. The project addresses a specific skills issue for Wales relating to the electrification programme for Welsh railways. The Centre will offer a mixture of NVQ qualifications from level 2 to 6 together with an apprenticeship programme and more than 19 companies have expressed a commitment to taking on apprentices. The College will also work with local schools to raise awareness of engineering careers.

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO, the Edge Foundation said: “The Centre for Excellence for Railway Training will be a beacon for technical, practical and vocational learning in the sector and we are delighted to be able to support Coleg y Cymoeddas they embark on this venture.

Edge has worked hard over the past decade, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy. The grant fund has allowed us to reach out across the country so that Coleg y Cymoedd, and the other grant recipients, can help this unfold at a local level; providing young people with many high-quality paths to success.”

This is the second round of applications since the fund was launched in 2014.

Judith Evans, Principal, Coleg y Cymoedd, said:“Coleg y Cymoedd is delighted to have received support from the Edge Innovation and Development Fund. We are pleased to be able to support the development of the railway network across Wales which will create employment opportunities for the young people of Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly. This funding will ensure that our staff continue to upskill to meet the needs of the sector and ensure sector leading practice.”

All applications to the grant fund supported Edge’s Six Steps for Change and addressed at least two of the following three aims: support the creation of new institutions, support the development of profound employer engagement, address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy.

Additionally all projects will support effective dissemination of best practice in vocational education and training and be able to support further development or replication.

For more information about the Edge Innovation and Development Fund visit:

Learner reaps rewards of prestigious Nuffield Research placement

Learners from Coleg y Cymoedd are among the first in Wales to obtain a new sporting qualification as their college pilots a scheme to develop brand new apprenticeships for Wales focusing on sporting excellence.

Coleg y Cymoedd has been part of the first venture to offer apprenticeships in sporting excellence, a scheme piloted by the college in partnership with SkillsActive and Wales Rugby League.

Mainly focussed on rugby league, the apprenticeship is also offered in swimming, ice hockey, football and rugby union in a partnership between SkillsActive and Grwp Neath Port Talbot College.

John Phelps, vice principal at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Coleg y Cymoedd was very pleased to have been given the opportunity to pilot this apprenticeship route, the first of its kind in Wales, in partnership with Wales Rugby League and SkillsActive and we learned a lot from it.

“One of the most satisfying aspects for the partnership was the success of the young apprentices on the field where they performed admirably usually playing against much more experienced sides.

“Ten of the apprentices played for Wales Rugby League and won bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in the trial sports for future games. In terms of progressing their playing careers, two students signed professional forms for Super League clubs and three others gained professional contracts.”

Coleg y Cymoedd has developed an impressive track record for developing the next generation of professional Welsh rugby talent through its renowned Blues Academy. Based at the college’s Nantgarw campus, the academy works in partnership with the Cardiff Blues team and ensures learners develop academically as well as on the pitch.

Ceri Thomas, SkillsActive apprenticeship manager for Wales, stated: “I am very proud to announce the successful piloting of these two innovative Apprenticeships funded by the Welsh Government. For the first time our Welsh Swimmers, Ice Hockey, Rugby Union, and League players have had the chance to train in a professional capacity and to gain work based qualifications, finally competing on level playing field with our English counterparts as a result of the apprenticeship in sporting excellence.

“Now that the framework has been successfully piloted we can’t wait to offer the opportunity to those other sports, their elite future stars and the young adventurous people across Wales, a chance to fulfil their ambitions, and at the same time gain some meaningful qualifications”.


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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