Professional Shakespeare performances to take place on the fifth Night

For the first time, learners across Coleg y Cymoedd are involved in performances for the prestigious Shakespeare for Schools Festival.

Groups of learners from three campuses are putting on short half hour Shakespeare plays in one night at the Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare on Thursday 5th November.

Shakespeare for Schools Festival is the largest youth drama festival in the UK and the world, offering students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare on their local professional stage.

Performing Arts learners from the Rhondda campus will be performing their abridged version of Macbeth, learners from the Nantgarw campus BOOST Theatre group will be performing Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night and Vocational Access learners from the Ystrad Mynach campus will be performing The Tempest.

All three Coleg y Cymoedd performance groups’ learners will be sharing their performance evening with learners from Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, who are performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The college has been taking part in tutor and learner workshops in collaboration with Shakespeare’s Schools Festival who are a London based organisation holding events all over the UK with the aim of introducing learners to a professional theatre company.

Alongside a fantastic evening of entertainment, the event is set to showcase the many talents of learners across the campuses, both those gaining qualification in the creative arts and those on other academic programmes who are taking part through the colleges enrichment programme BOOST.

Tutor Rebecca Francis Jones, who coordinated the Nantgarw campus play said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity for everyone involved. It’s the first time Coley y Cymoedd have been involved in the Shakespeare For Schools festival, and it’s great that students from three campuses will get to perform on the same night and see each other in action.”

“So far the opportunity has been fantastic, with a brilliant staff training day run by Shakespeare for Schools which gave lots of ideas for approaching the play, so a brilliant opportunity for staff as well as a great opportunity for learners.”

“Don’t miss out on a night of culture, fun and maybe even a few fireworks along the way.” Tickets are on sale now, and can be bought by calling the box office on: 08000 147111 or at:

More about the performances and cast by campus:

Macbeth – Rhondda

“The Performing Arts students have been working hard on our ensemble Physical Theatre piece. We have totally revived the play, and have made it quite contemporary and interesting for our audience to watch, using a soundtrack throughout and capturing the audience with our physicality and innovative ensemble settings.

We have a mix of Level 2 and Level 3 Performing Arts students working on the project and we our thoroughly enjoying the work shopping, devising and creative aspects of the whole process. Learners are engaged throughout, coming up with their own original ideas and choreography to make the story of Shakespeare’s tragic play come to life. The process has been a thrilling way for all new learner’s to interact, explore and be supportive of one other in an ensemble setting.

The students have shown a real enthusiasm and likeness for Shakespeare which shows the empathy that his works still have today and on a modern generation.

We already have videos and pictures available of our workshops and choreography on YouTube and on our web page. We are also on twitter and Instagram as a course also.”

Some of the talented students performing in the production:

Liam Hatch – Liam is playing the lead role of ‘Macbeth’ and Year 2 Level 3 student. He is a Model in his own right and has been featured in many films and adverts that are recognised throughout the UK and Europe.
Megan Dimond – Megan is playing ‘Lady Macbeth’ a Year 2 Level 3 student. She is a wonderful performer. She works as a performer for Children’s parties and events and has also featured in plays such as ‘Blood Brothers’.
Laura West – Laura plays one of the ‘3 witches’ a Year 2 Level 3 student. She is a regular extra in the Sky 1 series ‘Stella’. She has also worked on many different tv sets throughout Wales.
Elizah Appiah – Eliza plays the role of ‘Malcolm’ a Year 2 Level 3 student and part of the ensemble. She films for ‘Casualty’ as a regular and has been involved with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as well as the actor’s studio there.

The Tempest – Ystrad Mynach

“The next few weeks promise to be an exciting time for an aspiring group of young actors from Coleg y Cymoedd, Ystrad Mynach Campus. No fewer than ten Vocational Access students have been selected to take part in a nationwide Shakespeare Schools Festival. They are joined by fellow learner James Evans who is the only cast member with any previous acting experience.

It is no easy task to take on the challenge of performing a shortened version of The Tempest, but that is exactly what this courageous and determined fledgling troupe are doing.

Rehearsals are well under way and the students, under the watchful eye of LSA and Co-Director Donna Evans, have even visited the venue at Aberdare Coliseum where all those involved took part in a hugely entertaining and informative acting workshop.

Director Graham J. Evans would like to thank Steve Todd for his assistance with sound and music recordings and Blackwood Little Theatre for the generous loan of costumes and props.

The talented cast list is as follows:

Craig Stone
Emily Bates
James Evans
Lisa Lawrence
Brandon Lower
Shannon Llewellyn
Rhys Pile
Rhia Palmer
Jamie Stone

Twelfth Night – Nantgtw

“At the Nantgarw campus, we’re working on the comedy Twelfth Night, as part of the BOOST enrichment programme; it’s great that the students have been given the opportunity for such a tangible and rewarding experience through this programme.

We have a mix of students involved from AS and A2 Drama, other A level and vocational subjects, and students from the entry level Performing Arts course.

It’s a really inclusive process, with direction coming from the learners. They have really engaged with the opportunity and are all really excited about getting to perform in a professional theatre, with support from industry professionals.

For AS drama learners it is supporting their practical exam study, as Twelfth Night is one of their text extracts. For A2 drama learners, it gives them another dimension to add into their practical evaluation, which must include synoptic learning opportunities from their course. The process so far has also been a great way for new learners to meet, bond and develop friendships across the whole campus.

Learners are also really responding well to the challenges of the language and the play itself – they’ve been laughing at the content and have fully staged a shipwreck! The students have really responded to Shakespeare, which I think shows the success of a scheme like SFS Festival.”

Some of the talented learners involved include:

Gerome Jackson – Gerome has been involved in Boost Musical Theatre and took part in 3 shows last year. He is now on the entry level Performing Arts course, run by Darren Hardwicke.
Thomas Whitcombe – Thomas has completed his full A level in Drama, and is a third year student finishing A levels in Music, English and Media. He has just been involved in the National Youth Theatre summer scheme, and is helping me with directing and coordinating the Boost group – he is using this as a chance to really bolster his Personal Statement.
Cerys Haines and Cory Baker are both A2 students, continuing Boost and participating in SFS to develop their practical performance skills.
Jess Thomas is one of the MAT (More Able and Talented) students, she is not studying drama but loves performing and took part in all of the Coleg y Cymoedd shows last year.
Edward Franks-Herbert

Terrifyingly talented creative learners

A Welsh Halloween attraction has become even spookier thanks to the creepy props provided by talented Art and Design learners.

Aspiring artists and designers from Coleg y Cymoedd used their skills to create realistic scary props including limbs and guts to help create ‘FearFest’, the ultimate Halloween experience in Chepstow.

Level 3 Art and Design learners joined those on the colleges’ university level HND in Creative Production Arts to make ‘Fearfest’ come alive with props to resemble the living dead and mutant maniacs.

‘FearFest’ which terrified visitors in the lead up to Halloween is an immersive and interactive experience featuring live actors, special effects and horrific shocks in its numerous scare zones, all based beside a converted quarry.

As part of working with the nightmarish event learners also had the experience of working with a company based in Pinewood Studios in London who work with production companies for Hollywood blockbusters and provided the sets for the ‘Fearfest’ event.

Nicole Garner 17, from Caerphilly who studies 3D design said: “Being involved on this live project in the industry has been fantastic. The process given me real life experience of working within the creative industries, we had to work as part of a team and hit real deadlines.”

“It was an intimidating brief making high quality props for an interactive live event and working with a company based in Pinewood studios who produce sets, but I have loved every minute of it and it has made me even more determined to follow a career in this area.”

The various props including limbs and tomb stones brought the different elements of the Fearfest experience to life including the gruesome graveyard, the morbid manor and the island of dolls.

Alistair Aston, tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Working with Fearfest at the National Diving & Activity Centre in Chepstow has been a really positive experience for our learners, enabling them the opportunity to gain an understanding of working on a real life creative industries project.”

“They have worked with a real energy and enthusiasm, creating high quality Halloween props that have been exhibited throughout the event. Working with prestigious companies in the industry on a live brief has provided a real showcase for the talent that is being developed within Coleg y Cymoedd.”

Women Growing Football in Wales’ Colleges

Trials for the Welsh Colleges Women’s Football Squad took place on Friday 16 October, with 180 ambitious players hoping to follow last year’s top talents who have since gone on to be selected for the Welsh Senior Football Squad.

Women’s football in Welsh colleges is growing at pace, especially following the introduction of fast-paced 7 a-side format. The Welsh Colleges trials, which formed part of the second Welsh Colleges Football Festival, hosted at the Pen Y Darren Park, grew this year to include 14 teams from colleges across Wales.

The strong team from Coleg y Cymoedd won the Festival, winning the hard-fought final against The College Merthyr Tydfil on penalties.

The Festival showcased students’ leadership and team skills both on and off the field. Organised by Welsh Colleges Sport, sport students managed the Festival on the day, overseeing registrations, refereeing and all volunteering roles.

Welsh Colleges Sport Coordinator, Rob Baynham, said: “It’s really exciting to see a growth in sport among young women and to have such a large number of college teams being fielded for the Festival. It’s a showcase, too, of how well young people can organise sporting events and provide sporting opportunities for their peers. Playing, organising, leading, participating and supporting – the Festival has it all.”

The best players will be selected for the Welsh Colleges Sport national women’s team, with further training camps and fixtures through the year. Last year saw two Coleg y Cymoedd players go on to represent Wales at U17 level. Two players who have been featured on the U17 team, Chloe Lloyd and Ffion Price, have since made it through to the Welsh Senior Squad.

Ffion Price said: “Playing football for my college and the Welsh Colleges Sport national team were great springboards for me. Last year I was fortunate to be selected for the U17s Wales Women’s Football Squad in Lithuania, then for the U19s competing in the UEFA qualifiers in Turkey, and this year I was selected for the senior Wales squad against Croatia. I get such a buzz out of the game, and I couldn’t be happier to champion women’s football in Wales.”

Elite football Academy score national success

The first cohort on the Elite Football Academy, offered in partnership with the Football Association of Wales based at the Ystrad Mynach campus, is celebrating success at national level.

Learners who have joined the Academy from all over the country are celebrating the opportunity to represent Wales in international competitions. Alongside their top level training, the learners are studying for vocational sport qualifications or A Levels.

Five members of the academy have represented their country this month in the Welsh Ladies Under 19s in a tournament against Belgium, Croatia and Kazakhstan as a European competition qualifier.

Two learners will also feature in the Welsh Ladies Under 17s football squad at an international training camp this week. Chloe Chivers and Shaunna Jenkins are hoping to be picked to represent their country in a qualifying tournament in Hungary in October.

16 year Old Chloe Chivers from Abertillery says: “We’re lucky in college to be able to study every morning and train every afternoon. It’s a huge honour to go away with Wales U17 and college have been really supportive.

16 year old Shannua Jenkins from Aberaeron added: “Being in the Elite Academy has already helped us improve and understand what is takes to become a top level footballer. I hope we keep getting better because the goal is to play for Wales seniors in the future.”

The Elite Football Academy learners benefit from training on the extensive facilities at the multi-million pound Caerphilly Sport Centre of Excellence, which is adjacent to the Ystrad Mynach campus.

Football Academy lecturer Nia Jones is a Dual international player, representing Wales in both Ladies football and netball. She said: “It took a couple of weeks for the girls to adapt to the change in lifestyle that we expect from these promising young athletes, but it’s great to see how well they’ve bought into it. They’re working very hard in the classroom and on the pitch, and those who have had International call ups are very deserving.”

Fellow lecturer Clare O’Sullivan is also the Welsh U19s ladies football coach. Speaking about the success of the first cohort of the Elite Football Academy she said “Hopefully this Academy is another step forward for women and girls football in Wales. We have all been glued to watching the Senior Men qualify for a major tournament , and having worked closely with these girls in the academy and with the younger Wales age groups, I really believe we have the talent coming through to help us achieve the same in the near future.”

The Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd has also introduced a Rugby League Academy where learners are also currently training for major tournaments.

Trainer shows outstanding commitment to learners through cancer battle

Watch the nominee video

Engineering assessor Steve Manning is in contention for an award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015 after showing incredible commitment to his students through his battle with cancer.

Steve, 53, from Llantwit Major, is one of the four finalists shortlisted in the Work-Based Learning Practitioner of the Year category at the high profile awards ceremony to be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday, October 29.

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Steve works for Coleg Y Cymoedd as an engineering assessor, supporting more than 40 apprentices across British Airways sites in Cardiff, Blackwood and Llantrisant, as well as Arriva Trains in Cardiff.

He joined the college in Ystrad Mynach in October 2013, having spent most of working life with the RAF as an aircraft engineer and later, Cardiff City Bus.

Then, in July 2014, he had to go through major surgery, followed by months of chemotherapy.

Steve immediately put into place processes to support his learners, insisting that he would co-ordinate their learning remotely. He also introduced a new “buddy” system, whereby final year apprentices mentor first years.

“The chemotherapy really drained me and I felt sick a lot of the time but it was important to me not to let my apprentices down,” said Steve, who is now well and back at work. I had an incredible amount of support from students and colleagues, which really helped me through it.”

Matthew Tucker, head of school at Coleg Y Cymoedd, who nominated Stephen for the award, said: “He’s never lost focus of his learners and has astounded us with his relentless positive attitude and motivation.”

Zoe Batten, an MA Engineering Apprentice with British Airways, said: “During his illness he was still putting his students first. He ensured that he could always be reached by email to answer any questions or concerns, kept in touch with all students and also marked work.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James congratulated Sreve and the other 36 award finalists. “We have some truly exceptional apprentices and learners here in Wales and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements,” she said.

“Equally important are the training providers, employers and practitioners who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy. The Welsh Government is committed to training programmes such as Apprenticeships but investment must be a shared responsibility with the education sector, businesses and individuals.”

Inspirational athlete ‘snatches’ attention of Cymoedd Award winners

Coleg y Cymoedd held its annual learner awards at the Showcase Cinema to celebrate the achievements of those who had studied at the college during the previous academic year.

Judith Evans, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd welcomed the guests and congratulated the learners on their success. She acknowledged the support of the college staff and also parents and family who had encouraged the learners throughout the year.

She said” Tonight is one of my favourite events in the academic calendar when we celebrate the achievements of our learners. I am proud to be the Principal and would like to thank the governors who have provided the college with an opportunity to be one of the leading colleges in Wales. We have invested in a new Air Cabin and Motor Vehicle Training centre at the Ystrad Mynach campus, a new Rail Training Centre at the Nantgarw campus and in the new year work will commence on our new campus at Aberdare; we have an exciting future ahead of us with”.

Chair of the Corporation Mrs Liz James added her congratulations to the learners and endorsed the vote of thanks to the college staff; stating it is events such as this that reinforce why governors give their time and commitment to the college.

Performing Arts learner, James Owen excelled in his duties as Compere for the evening, leading the programme bilingually, in a highly professional manner.

James introduced guest speaker Michaela Breeze MBE who shared the highs and lows of her successful weight lifting career with the audience. Michaela received a warm response and was delighted to present awards to the learners; who were introduced by members of the Senior Management Team, Karen Phillips, David Finch, Andrew Jarvis and John Phelps.

The 50 award winners were from various levels of courses and departments across all campuses; including a group of Music Technology learners who were received Welsh Language Contribution awards.

The two final awards and closely kept secrets for Overcoming Barriers and Outstanding Achievement Awards had been selected by the Principal from the nominees; Tayiba Aslam received the Outstanding Achievement Award and Daniel Pritchard the Overcoming Barriers Award.

Mr Wayne Warlow, Master of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales attended the evening to present awards to two A Level learners; Jacob Lewis, who will be studying at Cambridge University and Andrew Williams who will study at Oxford University.

Megan Dimond and Nicole Wilkins, Performing Arts learners also supported the event, concluding the programme with two excellent musical renditions of Tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beastand I dreamed a dream from Les Miserables.

Coleg y Cymoedd awarded rugby academy status

Coleg y Cymoedd has been awarded the status of an Accredited Rugby Football League Category 3 Academy by Wales Rugby League.

Would-be Rugby League stars of the future are being given a chance to stake their claim to a place on the programme that combines training with a full time education.

Academy status allows Rugby League to be taught full-time at the Ystrad Mynach campus of the college. Learners will be able to study BTEC Level 2 and Level 3 Sport qualifications as part of the programme.

The Academy will also be a valuable pathway from the Wales under 16 side up to South Wales Scorpions, who are based in Mountain Ash.

Mark Jones, who has worked as National Development Manager at Wales Rugby League since 2009, has as a result, transferred over to Coleg y Cymoedd.

Jones will be assisted in his role by South Wales Scorpions players who will assist in coaching, with player assistant coach Paul Emanuelli having already taken sessions.

Jones said: “We are delighted that Coleg y Cymoedd is now officially an Accredited RFL Category 3 Academy. This is a result of a year’s worth of hard work by a number of people to get this established.

“The Academy will be a valuable link to anyone who wants to continue in Rugby League on a part or full-time basis be it with South Wales Scorpions, our community clubs and we hope those who are outstanding will be picked up by Super League clubs and play for Wales.

“We are still recruiting for this year for our Rugby League BTEC level 3 and are looking for any players aged 16 to 19 years old.”

This prestigious award is given on a continual rolling annual basis subject to twice annual reviews being satisfactory.

The Academy had its first run out on Wednesday 30th September when they competed in a South West based Nines tournament, eventually winning the Plate Final, beating the more experienced Swansea and Bath Universities on the way.

Jones adds: “The boys were superb against senior players and played with great shape. It was an excellent start to the season. Now we take on Cardiff Met next Wednesday at Cyncoed at 2pm.”

On the scoresheet in their first ever event were Liam Silver with seven tries, Dewi Billingham, Jordan Gilbert and Lewys Willacott with two each. Power play tries were scored by Lewis Jones, Liam Silver and Jordan Gilbert.

Potential players can apply for the academy online at /courses/subject-areas/sport.aspx

Sport department alumni meets Prince William

A previous Coleg y Cymoedd Sport learner celebrated the launch of his new WRU apprenticeship with Prince William.

Connor Prankard who completed his Level 2 and Level 3 Sport qualifications at the Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd met Prince William at the launch of the Welsh Rugby Union’s Coach Core apprenticeship programme.

Prince William was visiting Cardiff to launch the Welsh Rugby Union’s Coach Core apprenticeship programme – and to watch Wales take on Fiji in the Rugby World Cup.

The Duke of Cambridge met 12 new apprentices and watched some rugby training at Sport Wales, before heading to the Millennium Stadium. Prince William spoke to the apprentices and joined in their training.

Coach Core was created in 2012 as part of the Olympics Legacy and aims to improve the quality and availability of sport coaching.

19 year old Connor said: We asked him who he supported in Wales v England and he said Wales. But when we asked him who his brother supported he said we would have to ask Harry, he did talk about the rivalry they had there.”

Find out more at:


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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