Cymoedd learner flies the Welsh flag at the Young European Film Forum 2015

Eighteen-year-old Holly Ash has just returned from Brussels where she represented UK at the Young European Film Forum 2015, where young people from across the continent gather to explore cultural diversity. The 18-year-old media learner, from Nantgarw, has just completed the Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production (TV & Film) at the Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw campus and was delighted when the two-year cycle of the Forum fell at the right time for her to apply.

She travelled to Brussels for the 12-day event, where she joined sixty, like-minded participants aged between 18-25 years. Each contributor had a keen interest in documentary making and embraced the opportunity to develop their skills.

The Forum, now in its tenth year, welcomes young filmmakers from eleven European countries and is a hotbed of cultural exchange and personal development. During the programme, the participants were accompanied by professional filmmakers and editors to work on their documentary movies, including all of the preparatory stages, the production itself and post-production editing and modifying.

To date, Holly has gained a wealth of experience in the film industry, having volunteered her time in numerous different placements. She’s especially proud of the work that she produced on the prestigious Documentary Academy Wales Network (DAWN) course in Aberystwyth, run by the BFI Film Academy, in addition to being a runner on one of Wales’s favourite television series, ‘Stella’. Her involvement with Zoom Cymru, a Film Forum for young people based in south Wales, has been instrumental in guiding Holly on her chosen career path and she enthusiastically praises their work with students.

Holly found academic study in school challenging, especially at the end of year 11, but always knew that she had so much more to give. She therefore attended an open event at the college and enrolled on a Level 2 Art & Design course before finding her feet and setting her sights on a career in media. She thrived on the assignments and with the support of the staff gained distinctions, which allowed her to progress on to the Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production (TV & Film), where again she secured triple distinctions; no mean feat given that Holly is dyslexic. In September Holly will begin the next part of her career path when she moves to London to study at Royal Holloway.

Holly said, “I am so excited but it’s been such a hard slog! My experiences in Brussels were superb because I met so many lovely people and learnt so much but it all stems from the effort that I was prepared to put into it from the start – there was some serious sweat and blood going into these assignments! This latest course helped me to understand how to get over new challenges like working with people who didn’t speak English – it can be very tough at times but it’s completely been worth it. I’m now looking forward to studying at Royal Holloway, University of London and can’t thank the staff at Coleg y Cymoedd enough for all the support and encouragement that I have received during my time here.”

Course tutor Amanda Stafford added, “I was delighted when Holly was selected to attend the YEFF, I knew that she would get so much from the programme. She is very ambitious and hardworking and puts 100% in everything she does. She deserves her place at Royal Holloway – I know she will do well and she’s certainly one to watch!”

College learner is a true ambassador for Young Carers

Coleg y Cymoedd learner Adam Parker joined family, friends and fellow carers for a special evening where he received an award for ‘Improvement in Education’. The Young Carers event, organised by Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC was held at the Mountain Ash Bowls Club and recognised the contribution made by young carers who care for family and friends.

Seventeen year old Adam from Penrhiwceiber attends the Aberdare Campus and is following the Vocational Studies course, which includes IT, cooking and basic skills. He juggles his studies with his significant role in caring for his father, which also includes night time care.

Young carers play an important role in their families, and with it comes, pressure on their education, well-being, health and social lives. It’s important that carers are supported as much as possible, and have their own needs met. In 2015 Adam became involved with the Young Carers project and hasn’t looked back.

Since joining the project he has made loads of new friends and experienced activities such as a speed boat trip around Cardiff Bay and an action packed trip to London.

Commenting on Adam’s award, Coleg y Cymoedd Welfare Officer Laura Wilson, who attended the event, said “I’m delighted to have been part of the evening, to present Adam with the award. It is important that we recognise young carers like Adam who play a vital role in family life, overcoming daily challenges. Since his involvement with the project I have seen Adam mature into a confident young lad. We will be working closely with the young carers in the next academic year”.

Adam stated “The Young Carers project has been amazing, I’ve made so many new friends, visited lots of new places and tried several new activities. One of the main advantages has been the tremendous support and guidance I’ve received through the educational programmes offered by Young Carers; this has helped me with my current studies and given me the confidence to enrol on an IT course at the college starting September”.

Judge’s visit inspires law learners

Unless they’ve done something wrong, it’s not every day learners get to talk to a judge.

But aspiring lawyers from Coleg y Cymoedd had the opportunity to meet Employment Judge Sian Davies and gain insight into the complex world of the judiciary.

As part of her role as a Diversity and Community Relations Judge, Judge Davies spent the afternoon discussing a career in the judiciary with 21 A Level Law learners at the Nantgarw campus.

She participated in a lively question and answer session and presented a lecture on Employment Tribunal, how it sits within HM Courts and Tribunal Service, the role of the judge and how you become one.

Alongside her role as an Employment Tribunal Judge, Judge Davies is one of only 100 Diversity and Community Relations Judges across England and Wales. Their role is to seek to encourage legal professionals from under-represented groups to consider a judicial career.

Judge Davies gave the learners an insight into Employment Tribunal, providing examples of her involvement with cases covering a range of employment law issues, including unfair dismissals, wage disputes and discrimination cases.

A Level learner Jacob Lewis, who has his sights set on Law at Cambridge University said: It was fantastic to be able to have a judge come in and talk to us not only about the vital role that tribunals play in helping people access justice but more importantly, how we can become a part of the judiciary which has traditionally been quite a closed profession.

I know thanks to this visit that many learners who were in attendance are now giving a thought to a career into this aspect of the legal profession which they would not have necessarily done”.

Judge Davies said: “It was a real pleasure to meet with the law students and lecturers at Coleg y Cymoedd. Learners may assume that judges are not “people like me” however I was state educated and I hope that my visit went some way to dispelling misconceptions of who judges are and what we do”.

Judge Davies is relatively new to the role of Diversity & Community Relations Judge which involves making connections between the judiciary & wider community. The idea is to ultimately progress to a more diverse judiciary, more representative of the community it serves.

Judge Davies has been an Employment Tribunal Judge for 5 years, before which she was a partner at a law firm based in Cardiff.

New College Campus For Aberdare

Following the announcement of a £20m investment by Welsh Government for a new state-of-the-art College Campus for Aberdare, the Council’s Planning Committee has agreed outline permission for these proposals.

Council Leader, Cllr Andrew Morgan, and Coleg Y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans, visited the site to discuss the ambitious proposals for this key site in Aberdare.

County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said: “I am pleased to see this project is now moving forward at a pace and that outline planning has been approved, subject to further minor details being provided to the Council.

“The proposed £20m college will see a transformation in the quality of further education facilities in the Cynon Valley and I am extremely pleased that the proposal includes the possibility of the old Aberdare Station Holt being renovated and reused as a possible food venue for the college.

“While the location has excellent public transport links, with the train station next to the proposed college, and the bus station only a few hundred yards away, I am personally keen to see highway improvements in the area both for pedestrians and road users.

“Subject to full planning being agreed, work should start on the new facility by spring 2016.

The Council continues to work closely with Coleg Y Cymoedd to deliver the maximum benefits for Aberdare.

“This new campus will complement the new secondary school, which recently opened, ensuring the best educational opportunities for young people locally in Cynon Valley.

“The campus will also further enhance the significant investment made in Aberdare by the Council in terms of the town centre enhancement and the recently opened state of the art leisure centre.

“The new college for Aberdare has the potential to deliver another significant capital investment project now and in turn a major boost for our local economy longer term.”

Principal of College y Cymoedd, Judith Evans said: “We are delighted that the Council is supporting us with our mission to ensure that students in the Cynon Valley have access to first class vocational training facilities.

“The new college campus will ensure that learners have a range of curriculum options that enable them to progress into employment or higher education.

“Coleg y Cymoedd has an excellent reputation for apprenticeship training, we are keen to ensure that learners in the Cynon Valley benefit from these opportunities.

“We are looking forward to opening the college to our first cohort of learners in September 2017.”

Don’t miss out on a place at the college, as courses fill up quickly. If you know what course you want to study you can apply online TODAY! However if you require advice in making your decision… visit one of our Advice days on our Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach campuses –Thursday August 27th 10:00 – 7:00p.m./Friday August 28th 10:00 – 4:00p.m.

College Launches Platinum Award-Winning Travel Plan

Coleg y Cymoedd has received the news that it has been awarded the Platinum Level” in the Wales Travel Plan Awards; for its work in developing and maintaining a strategy that promotes sustainable travel practices at college campuses.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Travel Plan, which seeks to encourage staff and learners to utilise alternative transport solutions such as cycling, public transport and car sharing, has been recognised for its continued standard of excellence in travel planning.

The awarded Travel Plan includes transport planning around a new campus located in the heart of Aberdare, utilising excellent bus and rail links. 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.

The college’s Travel Plan, which secured the platinum standard, has also seen significant investment in the promotion of sustainable commuting and creation of improved campus cycle facilities for users.

The College strategy and plan is developed and monitored by a group of college staff, working with key partners including Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Councils and South Wales Police.

David Brookes, Director of Learner Services at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “We are delighted to have received Platinum standard for our Travel Plan, which is the highest an organisation can hold. Very few organisations have attained this.

The award is an endorsement of our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, and aid our staff and students’ health and wellbeing. The College is delighted to have achieved the Platinum Travel Award and will continue to work closely with the staff, learners and key partners.

The staff and learners have been instrumental in achieving this award; to achieve success everyone has to ‘buy in’ to the schemes. We are always keen to hear from staff and learners of any ideas they may have in relation to the Travel Plan.”

Surveys across its Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach campuses have allowed the college to better understand how it can aid individual staff and students to utilise sustainable transport methods.

All that Glitters is Gold as College achieves Corporate Health Standard

Coleg y Cymoedd has been granted a gold award in Health Standards for work encouraging staff wellbeing.

The college has been revalidated with the coveted Corporate Health Standard Gold Award following a reassessment day on 16th April 2015.

The award is given to organisations who demonstrate a strong commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees and both legacy Colleges, Morgannwg and Ystrad Mynach, had achieved the Platinum and Gold levels of the award respectively pre-merger.

The reassessment consisted of visits at Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach campuses, a meeting with the Principal and a meeting with the Health and Wellbeing Group who gave a detailed presentation explaining what the College is doing to promote and encourage staff wellbeing.

Prior to the assessment the college undertook a lot of work behind the scenes in order to evidence the organisational commitment to staff using various means such as policy development, Health & Safety and travel planning and various wellbeing initiatives. These initiatives include a Cycle to Work scheme, Childcare Vouchers, provisions for healthy eating in catering facilities, on site gyms and discounted leisure membership.

Many strengths were highlighted as part of the positive feedback from the assessors including effective communication, the recognition by senior management of the importance of staff wellbeing, implementation of flexible and equitable policies and procedures, staff performance reviews, mental health promotion, tobacco/smoking policy, alcohol and substance misuse, exercise and nutrition as well as excellent on site gym facilities.

Commenting on the success of the award, David Spencer, Human Resources Officer said: “On behalf of the College, I am very proud to receive the Gold Award. I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and expertise throughout not only this revalidation process but during the past twenty months or so that I have been leading on the wellbeing programme.”

“I think it is important to recognise those who were involved in the Health and Wellbeing initiatives in both the former Colleges as without their previous hard work embedding a lot of these initiatives this award would have undoubtedly been a lot harder to achieve. We will now look forward to achieving the Platinum award next year.”


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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