Cymoedd crowned rugby champions against longstanding rivals

Coleg y Cymoedd’s learners and staff are celebrating as their college’s under 18s squad triumph for the second year running over longstanding rivals Coleg Sir Gar to become the 2016 WRU Rugby Colleges champions.

The landslide victory between the two college squads at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was the fourth successive final to see both teams face each other.    

In a tense game, supporters of both teams were kept on the edge of their seats, before Coleg y Cymoedd’s team stretched their lead with a 20 point difference to make the final score 44-24. This marks Cymoedd’s second consecutive victory against Coleg Sir Gar.

The win marks Coleg y Cymoedd’s most successful season since its formation in 2013, following the merger between Coleg Morgannwg and Ystrad Mynach College. In addition to reaching the finals at the Principality Stadium, the college’s second team also secured a place at the semi-finals of the British Colleges Cup

Commenting on the win and the outstanding performance of the squad to date, Clive Jones, director of rugby at Coleg y Cymoedd, said:

“2015-16 has been another successful season for the rugby programme and we’re delighted to have retained the U18 championship”.

 “The boys’ commitment and preparation has been outstanding. Their dedication has been reflected by regional and national selection with 7 players gaining Welsh caps. 

At the College Rugby Academy the boys receive expert rugby tuition, rugby analysis and strength & conditioning to help maximise their rugby potential. However, the College Academy also ensures that rugby learners are prepared academically should a career in rugby not materialise.

Clive Jones continued to say, As pleasing as it is to reach three finals, it is even more special to see the players succeed in their learning too. It shows that the programme is working both on and off the field. We place great store on working with these boys to develop qualities and values that will help them prosper in their futures, be it in education, employment or professional rugby.”

Science lessons set for take-off as Cymoedd lecturer explores world experimentation hub

Access to HE and BTEC physics learners in the Valleys can look forward to even more thrilling science lessons as their lecturer returns from a fascinating trip to the world famous scientific centre which seeks the answer to how our universe was created.

Anthony Mitchell, a Physics lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd visited the prestigious CERN centre in Switzerland, home of the Large Hadron Collider – the multi-billion pound machine which simulates the moment following the ‘Big Bang’.

Anthony, from Newport, was chosen as one of 24 teachers from across Wales to visit CERN to explore further research into particle physics. While there, Anthony attended lectures about the facilities at CERN from the scientists and engineers who work there, as well as talks on the application of particle physics technology.

Based on the Nantgarw campus, Anthony’s experiences at CERN are set to make his lessons even more enjoyable for the Access to HE & BTEC physics learners on site. Having already revised his teaching plan for this year to include new information picked up at CERN, Anthony is also planning a talk about the trip for both staff and learners, hoping to inspire them to take a further interest in science.  

What’s more, the 24 teachers who went on the trip are aiming to create a ‘knowledge network’ which will share and develop resources with other science teachers in Wales to use in the future.   

Speaking about his trip, Anthony said: “Being able to visit CERN and see they work they are doing at the cutting edge of particle physics is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was a privilege to represent Coleg y Cymoedd on the trip.  

“The technology that is coming out of the work CERN does is huge. It is where the internet was created, where the Higgs Boson was discovered and new medical treatments involving proton beams were developed. It is a truly unique institution and I hope I can share everything I picked up there with the learners at Coleg y Cymoedd.”

The visit supports the Welsh Government’s Focus on Science campaign, designed to get more young people interested in pursuing scientific careers. 

Construction Industry Training Board establishes landmark £6.5m Construction Wales Innovation Centre with UWTSD

A ground-breaking £6.5m Wales-wide agreement which will create construction training for 1,100 people per year will be signed on Tuesday (April 12).

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and a consortium led by The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, will establish the Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC) to offer state-of-the-art facilities and world-class training for individuals and construction companies.

With its proposed headquarters at the Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter, the CWIC will also have sites at colleges across Wales, including Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion, which are part of the UWTSD Group, and Coleg Cambria in North Wales and Coleg y Cymoedd in South East Wales.

Construction is due to begin towards the end of 2016 with the CWIC’s opening targeted for September 2018.

Mark Bodger, Strategic Partnership Director for CITB Cymru Wales, said:

“This landmark partnership will ensure we have the right skills in place meet our industry’s current and future needs. This exciting new centre will be a major step forward for the construction industry in Wales and help it become a leader in digital and modern construction and the repair of traditional buildings and heritage sites.”

Gerald Naylor, UWTSD Project Director, said: “We are looking forward to working with the CITB to develop a new model for delivering skills to the construction sector in Wales and beyond. Working with our FE College partners across Wales we will develop a ‘Hub and Spoke’ framework that will enable companies to access training through a central point.”

The “Hub” will be based at the University’s Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter and the “Spokes” will be located at the Wales-wide colleges listed above.

The CITB and UWTSD collaboration will offer companies the facilities and expertise to test new concepts in construction training. It will:

  • Be the first of its kind in Britain to provide applied research, training and consultancy through one partnership.
  • Provide state-of-the-art facilities to allow students and businesses to learn best practice techniques.
  • Offer a “rapid construction zone” to start innovative systems for bespoke tests such as structural performance.

Donna Griffiths, Partnerships Manager at CITB, said: “The CWIC will, for the first time, deliver an integrated career pathway between craft, trade and professional construction occupations across the whole of Wales.

“The CWIC will respond to the skills challenges Wales faces and help train the next generation of workers in construction.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor, UWTSD added “The vision for the Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter is to create a neighbourhood where the University and its partners can work with industry to exploit opportunities that will not only benefit the region but will also deliver those benefits to the rest of Wales.  This development is key to us achieving that vision”.

Watch Principal Judith Evans commenting on this exciting initiative at: https://youtu.be/sArz-BCkCeE 

Coleg y Cymoedd taking teaching expertise to Vietnam

Coleg y Cymoedd have recently visited Vietnam to pass on expertise in Teaching and Quality to vocational colleges in Hanoi.  

In partnership with the British Council ‘Foundation Project Vietnam’, representatives from Coleg y Cymoedd undertook the trip to demonstrate good practice in Teaching and Learning and Quality Assurance to Vietnamese colleges.

Coleg y Cymoedd is partnered with three colleges in Vietnam – Hanoi Electrical Mechanical College, Hanoi Industrial College and Vietnam Korean College with the British Council and General Department of Vocational Training (GDVT) to enrich learning experiences in both Vietnam and Wales.

The aims of the 13 day visit in March were to share UK College Self-Assessment Process and Quality Management Systems, Share UK teaching strategies and resources with a particular focus on the development and integration of social and employability skills and Share UK assessment strategies.

On the visit Coleg y Cymoedd staff were tasked with benchmarking current Quality Assurance and Teaching and Learning practices and undertake training needs analysis in these areas. The college delivered ‘Train the trainer’ in country so that the Vietnamese colleges could implement new practices and training within the institutions.

UK College staff undertook action planning to ensure that Vietnamese colleges would commit to improvements and took part in an evaluation seminar to determine impact of training and distance travelled. All colleges involved also had the opportunity to discuss the potential for future collaboration and sustainability to the partnership.

Head of Business and International Services at Coleg y Cymoedd Elaine Rees said “This is a fascinating project to be part of and it is brilliant to see the first stages of cultural and ethos change following this visit. In the long term the colleges involved will improve teaching tools and methods, assess students skills more accurately, improve student and staff motivation and inevitably enhance student employability skills.

We are proud to be part of this visit, which feeds into wider international plans for Coleg y Cymoedd and along with previous cultural exchanges, is helping to create stronger relationships with colleges overseas.”

Skills Competition success for nail services student from Tonyrefail

A 19-year-old from Tonyrefail has won gold in the Nail Services final of a national skills competition.

Skills Competition Wales is a Welsh Government-backed series of events designed to celebrate vocational skills and create a highly skilled Welsh workforce for the future.

With Olympic athletes training hard for the imminent games in Rio, Holly Bailey is just one of 78 Welsh youngsters who have been perfecting their skills in a bid to win a medal. Across a range of vocations from graphic design to patisserie, these budding skilled champions, like Olympians, may go on to challenge competitors from other nations.

Holly, from Coleg y Cymoedd, competed against four other students from across Wales. Finalists completed a series of nail service challenges within a two and a half hour time period where students needed to perform a manicure and apply nail enhancements.  

Holly, who is studying a Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology, said she is thrilled to have won: “Winning the competition was a total shock. I was really nervous on the day, but also excited to be showing off my skills. I did a practice session with my tutors the week before and went through all my techniques until I felt confident and ready for the big day. I’ve been interested in nail art for quite a while, I’m quite an artistic person so I find it really fun to play around with designs while I’m at work at the beauty salon. I’d love to run my own business one day and winning this competition makes me feel like I’m one step closer.”

Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd said: “The World Skills Competition is a wonderful opportunity for students to compete on a national and international stage. It is important that we encourage as many learners as possible to compete, they have outstanding high level of skills.  This is a fantastic achievement for Holly, we wish her well with the stage of the competition.”

Skills Competition Wales forms part of the Welsh Government’s Growth and Sustainable Jobs Programme, designed to promote the importance of vocational skills with the aim of boosting the overall skill capabilities and prosperity of Wales.

Supported by the European Social Fund and the Welsh Government, and run by a network of colleges and work based learning providers, a total of 33 local Skills Competitions will be taking place between February and April, in a range of sectors from forensic science and car mechanics to web design and nail art.

Holly may go forward to represent Coleg y Cymoedd in the Nail Services Worldskills UK heat, with the aim of potentially representing Team Wales at this year’s Skills Show in Birmingham in November. She may then be eligible to compete for a place in the squad which will represent the UK at WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James AM said:

“Year on year the level of talent at Skills Competition Wales keeps on improving. These events encourage healthy competition and are a great way of recognising the fantastic talent that we have in our country.

“Dozens of colleges, Sector Skills Councils and work-based learning providers across Wales are already involved in the Skills Competition Wales initiative and have played a huge part in organising the heats and finals, but we’re keen to see more Welsh businesses support their talented young employees and encourage them to enter.”

The Deputy Minister added: “It takes a lot of hard work to get to the final round but to win gold is a fantastic achievement. It is clear that all the competitors are extremely passionate and determined to be named the best in Wales.

“We wish Holly and all the other finalists and winners the very best of luck, not only in the next round of the competitions, but also in their future careers.”

Aerospace apprentices jet off to China

Fourteen apprentices from the South Wales Valleys have been given the opportunity to travel the world and experience student life in China.

The group are all apprentices with British Airways and trained by Coleg y Cymoedd, where they are all currently studying towards their Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Aeronautical Engineering, in addition to their workplace training with British Airways.

The apprentices travelled to Chongqing Industry Polytechnic College in China, organised by Coleg y Cymoedd, as part of an ongoing cultural exchange programme with the Chinese college.

The eight day exchange was designed to allow the apprentices to fully immerse themselves into college life in China. During that time the apprentices lived in student international accommodation on the college grounds, and participated in classes, cultural events and employer visits.

Commenting on his trip to China, British Airways apprentice, Max Baker, 19 from Cardiff, said: “We all had an amazing time! We’re so thankful for those involved for organising the trip, and very grateful to have had the experience. I’m sure it will be a week we all never forget and hopefully it can happen again in the future for other learners.”

The partnership between the two colleges was formed via the Chongqing Consortium (Wales), which is made up of seven Welsh colleges, including Coleg y Cymoedd.

The Consortium exists to promote Wales as an education destination. The FE Consortium employs a representative in Chongqing to facilitate education partnerships between Wales and China. As a result, Coleg y Cymoedd has had the opportunity to host groups of exchange students from Chongqing Industry Polytechnic College and undertaken training with over 170 staff in China.

Commenting on the apprentices’ trip and her college’s links with China, Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said:

“We are proud to be able to provide our learners with the chance to travel and experience new cultures as part of their training with Coleg y Cymoedd. Building international partnerships for the benefit of learners and the development of new educational opportunities is essential for modern colleges today.

“We are committed to making sure that the training opportunities and courses we provide are the very best in Wales. Our tutors work tirelessly to ensure this commitment is met and it is rewarding to know that colleges around the world are keen to replicate our achievements.”

Coleg y Cymoedd is also helping colleges in China to replicate the standards of education training it offers to learners in Wales. Recently, the college hosted staff from Chongqing City Management College for a four month job shadowing programme. Coleg y Cymoedd tutors have also travelled to China to share their expertise on a range of subjects including, curriculum development, leadership and management plus teaching and learning.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James said: “Apprenticeship exchange programmes bring young adults together from all over the world to share and learn ideas, beliefs, and practices. These apprentices have been given a great opportunity to experience the world and gain the confidence they need to prepare themselves for their future.  

“Coleg y Cymoedd is leading the way in terms of this type of international exchange and the knowledge and expertise their institution gains through these links can only improve the learning experience for all of their students. “ 

Cymoedd performers prepare to take centre stage in the West End

A group of talented performers from the South Wales Valleys are gearing up to take their performance of Macbeth to the West End stage, after impressing the founder of the Shakespeare for Schools Festival at a local performance in Aberdare.

Level 2 and 3 BTEC Performing Arts learners from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus performed their interpretation of three Shakespeare plays at the end of last year, watched by Chris Grace, founder of the Shakespeare for Schools Festival – the UK’s largest youth drama festival. Their performance impressed so much, the budding actors and actresses were invited to take their show to the West End as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Shakespeare’s death, recognised with events across the UK.

The learners will perform an excerpt from Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre’s West End Gala night on Monday 18th April, the start of week-long celebrations and performances. Commended for their professionalism and creativity during their initial performance at the Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare; Coleg y Cymoedd will be the only college performing on the night. Moreover, Coleg y Cymoedd is the only college from Wales to have been offered this opportunity with Shakespeare for Schools.

Megan Dimond, 18, from Treorchy who plays Lady Macbeth said: “This is an amazing opportunity for me to go to the West End and perform at the prestigious Piccadilly Theatre. The opportunities that have been offered during my time on this course are mind blowing.

“Without choosing the BTEC Performing Arts course at Coleg y Cymoedd, I wouldn’t have been able to develop my career this far so early on in my educational stages. I can’t wait till performance day!”

Shakespeare for Schools offers learners from across the UK, the opportunity to perform a range of Dance Physical Theatre interpretations of Shakespeare’s most famous plays on the stage. Coleg y Cymoedd has previously taken part in tutor and learner workshops, as well as full performances, through the Shakespeare for Schools Festival with the aim of introducing their learners to a professional stage.

Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, Judith Evans, spoke of the performer’s success: “We’re so proud of our Performing Arts learners for being invited to take part in such a prestigious national event. Their hard work and commitment in their performances has really paid off, and they’re a testament to the talented young people here at the college and across South Wales.”

You can watch a trailer for Coleg y Cymoedd’s performance of Macbeth here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6_MVTquEKs

Budding filmmaker awarded top prize after breaking down barriers in mental health

An aspiring young film maker has been given a prestigious award for a documentary which aimed to abolish the stigma of mental health, following her own personal battle with mental illness.

Rebecca Feazelle, 23 from Caerphilly, wowed the judges at the Zoom Cymru Young Film Makers Awards to pick up the Best Documentary Award on the night. The short documentary, called Fragile Minds, which was created as part of her BTEC Level 3 in Creative Media Production (TV and Film) at Coleg y Cymoedd, explored Rebecca’s own struggle with mental health.

Initially part of a college assignment, Rebecca set out for her documentary to break down barriers regarding mental illness, sharing her own experiences throughout the film. This included an interview with a representative from Mind Cymru, which replicated the advice the young filmmaker has received herself from the mental health charity. The documentary also took a scientific angle, looking into the chemical processes in the brain which can cause panic attacks, something Rebecca has personally suffered with.

Recognising Rebecca’s filmmaking talents, Coleg y Cymoedd tutor Amanda Stafford was quick to encourage the learner to enter her film into the Zoom Cymru Awards.  The awards recognise the best filmmaking talents of young people in Wales and are held as part of the wider Zoom International Youth Film Festival, which this year celebrated its 10thanniversary. The festival included a mix of workshops and masterclasses by expert tutors and filmmakers passing on advice and their knowledge to aspiring young filmmakers.

Speaking after the award ceremony in Bridgend, Rebecca said: “It was an amazing experience from beginning to end. My main goal was to give those who don’t have a voice the opportunity to speak through me and to comfort those who are suffering in silence. The Zoom Cymru Awards have given my film a platform for more people to reach out to it. So many people have already told me how much it has helped them, which is the best feeling.”

The 23 year old has previously completed courses in hairdressing and childcare, but feels she has found her niche in filmmaking thanks to the Creative Media Production course at Coleg y Cymoedd. She continued: “I was so bad with technology before this course, and now I am using cameras and advanced editing software regularly. It’s opened up so many work experience opportunities for me too, which I hope will help me in the future.”

Zoom Cymru Young Film Makers Awards recognise the talented filmmakers from across Wales, honouring those in categories such as Best Direction, Best Performance and Best Animation. 

Amanda Stafford, Rebecca’s tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, also shared her delight after the ceremony: “We are enormously proud of Rebecca’s achievement. She had a story to tell and set about telling it with complete commitment. Her vision was clear from the start and it is fantastic that her work has been recognised in this way. She epitomises the type of hardworking learners here at Coleg y Cymoedd.” 

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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