Local businesses to benefit from £19m funding for work based training

As a result of a Welsh Government Announcement made today when the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government Mark Drakeford announced a £45m EU backed investment into raising skills and career prospects in South Wales, six further education colleges in the region are now able to provide ESF funded training to employers in South East Wales and Powys.

£19m has been allocated to the Upskilling@Work scheme and over the next 3 years, Coleg Gwent, Coleg y Cymoedd, Bridgend College, Merthyr Tydfil College, Cardiff and the Vale College and Neath Port Talbot College will be able to offer training to employers at a significantly reduced cost thanks to the funding from the Welsh European Funding Office.

The Colleges will work closely with employers to assess their training needs and identify courses that would best meet these training objectives. The scheme aims to provide training at a time and location suitable to the employer wherever possible, be it at one of the Colleges involved or in the workplace.

A spokesperson for the College Partnership said: “We are delighted with the extra funding for the UpSkilling@Work scheme.  We expect hundreds of employers and their employees across South East Wales and Powys to greatly benefit as a result of this.  For those businesses wishing to take advantage of this funding, please contact the Sales Team at your local college.”

Welsh college goes global to improve education standards

Education experts from a further education college in the south Wales valleys have travelled nearly 5000 miles to help improve the quality of teaching and learning for educators and increase skills mobility for students in India.

Coleg y Cymoedd has partnered with three colleges in India to share best education practice and resolve some of the key challenges that educators in India deal with every day. The partnership was formed through the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), of which Coleg y Cymoedd is the only Welsh college to be involved.

Over the past two years the partnership has seen four members of Coleg y Cymoedd’s senior management team travel to colleges in the coastal area of Andra Pradesh and the southern area of Tamil Nadu to meet fellow college staff including Principals and lecturers to address areas of improvement and collaboration.

The first trip to India allowed the Coleg y Cymoedd team to identify skills gaps within each of its three partner colleges as well as other issues such as poor IT infrastructures. Over the project’s lifespan the team focused on working with Indian representatives to form a structured action plan, sharing tools and resources to help implement improvements that would vastly improve the level of education.

Their Indian counterparts were also able to travel to the UK to take part in a week of intensive training, which saw them spend two days at the Nantgarw campus among other colleges across the UK. The visitors took part in job shadowing and lesson observations, learning new teaching methods along the way.  

Having just returned from an evaluation and impact visit to India, Mark Thomas, Campus Director, and John Phelps, Vice Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd, were able to see first-hand how the partnership benefitted the three colleges.

Speaking of the links forged, Mr Phelps said: “It’s been a really effective two year programme where we have seen great improvement to resources in the colleges we linked up with. We’ve been able to pass on some tips on evidence based teaching practices and quality processes that the colleges are now replicating themselves successfully.”

It wasn’t just the Indian colleges that benefitted from the partnership, as Mr Phelps went on to say: “We also picked up some new approaches from the colleges in India that we hadn’t considered before at Coleg y Cymoedd. We were particularly impressed with how they report on some aspects of student and college achievements in Indian colleges and as a result, that’s something we’ll look into implementing here. All-in-all it was a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.”


Cymoedd commit to tackling mental health stigma

A college in the South Wales valleys has become the first in the country to pledge its commitment to destigmatising mental health issues in a learning environment.

Coleg y Cymoedd signed the Time to Change Wales pledge, an initiative run by three of Wales’ leading mental health charities, Mind Cymru, Hafal and Gofal. By signing the pledge, Coleg y Cymoedd are vowing their commitment to tackling mental health stigma and discrimination with both learners and staff members at the college’s four campuses across South Wales.

As the first FE college in Wales to sign the pledge, Coleg y Cymoedd has announced a number of measures they will be implementing to encourage learners and staff to speak openly about mental health issues or concerns. These include regular surveys for staff to understand the perception of mental health issues in the workplace, as well as offering staff access to counselling services and providing a team of welfare officers to support learners.

After signing the pledge, Andrew Jarvis, Vice Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “With almost 20,000 learners and 850 staff across four campuses, the health and wellbeing of everyone at Coleg y Cymoedd is extremely important to us.

“There are many pressures learners can feel at this stage of their life, whether it’s applying for university or meeting their target grades. Equally, many staff members often take on the pressures learners feel themselves. Here at the college we are committed to supporting our learners throughout their education and help ease any stress they may be feeling. By signing the Time to Change Wales pledge, we hope to continue promoting good mental health throughout the college and help to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in Wales.”

Mental health charities Gofal, Mind Cymru and Hafal charities resolved to work together, combining their knowledge, skills and expertise in the biggest attempt yet in Wales to end discrimination around mental health. By encouraging businesses, education bodies and organisations of all sizes to sign the Time to Change Wales pledge, the three charities hope to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Anthony Metcalfe, Time to Change Wales Programme Manager said: “Time to Change Wales, as the first national campaign to end stigma and discrimination, are proud that Coleg y Cymoedd are stepping up and signing the campaign pledge to address these issues across their workplace and campuses.

“The college are joining a growing band of employers that are working in partnership with Time to Change Wales to address these inequalities, and we look forward to monitoring their progress.”

Community Voice Project scoops Enterprise Award for Cymoedd learners

A group of learners from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Aberdare Campus, Learner Voice have beaten off stiff competition from neighbouring colleges, to scoop the Enterprise Award at the NUS Wales Awards; for their work with the Learner Voice and Community Voice Project.

The college works closely with Eye to Eye Counselling Services, who offer support to children and young people up to the age of 25 years in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area; therefore when approached to produce a dvd, the learners were keen to get involved.

The Community Voice project involved college learners, pupils from Aberdare Community School, Eye to Eye Counselling Services and Spectacle Theatre producing a dvd highlighting mental health issues in young people.

The Cymoedd learners and members of the Anti- bullying Group from the Community School chose to focus on self –harming; which can be really hard to understand and is highly prevalent in Cynon Valley.  A stark national figure of between one in twelve and one in fifteen young people self-harm.

Emma Allcock, Counsellor with Eye to Eye Services stated “This dvd will be shown in schools and colleges throughout RCT and we hope it raises awareness of causes of self -harm, how to recognise it and to reassure there is help available”

The production of the dvd has been entirely created by the young people for young people, from the storyboard to the filming; with them giving up hours of their free time to create the film.

Kim Sanders, Healthy Schools and Pupil Voice Co-ordinator at Aberdare Community School has been involved with the group and has seen the passion gone into the making of the dvd, she said “The young people involved with the Community Voice project have been so passionate about creating the film and I am confident that it will be well received enabling parents, carers, teachers and those involved with young people to recognise self -harm and to confidently signpost them to available support”.

The college learners will use the dvd as part of their presentation at their next competition, the National NUS Awards; which takes place in Liverpool, later this month. Cymoedd learner and Executive of the Aberdare Campus Learner Voice, Alice Reardon was thrilled with the success of the project and excited to proceed to the National Awards. She said “At the age of twenty-five, I have two amazing children who are my world, we live in and are part of such an amazing community which has a great deal of love and enthusiasm for the next generation! Working alongside the brilliant pupils at Aberdare Community School has opened my eyes even more as to how inspiring our little community is and it shows exactly how big our hearts are”.

Cymoedd music festival grows so big it has to move venue for 2016

A music festival promoted by students at Coleg Y Cymoedd has grown so quickly in the last three years it has now moved to a new venue.

Valleys Soundfest was originally staged at the college’s Rhondda campus in Llwynypia, but will this year be held at the college’s Nantgarw campus on Saturday, May 14. It will also field its biggest line-up yet, with more than 20 bands playing across two stages.

“The festival was started by myself and second year music tech students,” said course tutor and musician Scott Howells, formerly the frontman of valleys indie rock band Broken Vinyl Club.

 “When I decided to deliver a music events management unit, we started doing small indoor events then decided it would be cool to do an outdoor festival.

“We bought a marquee with the help of the campus director and each year a new group of students inherit the festival, trying to better the efforts of their predecessors.”

To celebrate the move to a new venue, Scott and his students are aiming to stage the biggest and most eclectic line-up yet.

So far confirmed are some of the best new acts from Wales including The Moon Birds, The Riff, Reuel Elijah, Upbeat Sneakers and The Cradles.

“This year there will be two stages – one outdoor and one indoor, with up and coming bands from all genres such as indie, ska, hip-hop, metal, RnB, grime, punk, and dubstep.

“We think the eclectic line up showcases some of the best emerging talent Wales has to offer with something to interest everyone. We could have had 200 Welsh bands or more. There is so much talent out there. We had to really whittle it down.”

A vital component of the festival is that the college’s students gain experience of staging a festival.

Scott added: “The students take on all sorts of roles. These include artist liaison, graphic design, live sound, stage management, social media, website design and all the technical roles on the day as well as stewarding”.

The festival is also keen to support Welsh rocker Mike Peters’ Love Hope Strength charity.

“Love Hope Strength is a great charity and one very close to our hearts in helping to fight cancer,” said Scott.

“My fellow music tutor Chris Summerill has done a lot of work for LHS and has become ambassador for the charity. The students swab festival goers to get as many people on the blood donor register in order to find bone marrow matches. We have so far managed to get over 70 people on the blood donor register with 1 match.

Valleys Soundfest will be staged at Coeg y Cymoedd on Saturday, May 14. The festival will also include a selection of Wales’ best street food vendors and artisan brewers.

Tickets priced £5 are available in advance from www.valleyssoundfest.co.uk


Cymoedd team prove too strong for New Zealand visitors

Following their landslide victory in the WRU Colleges Cup finals, Coleg y Cymoedd’s 18’s rugby squad have defeated a visiting New Zealand rugby team, which is considered to be one of the strongest school teams in the world. 

As they lined up on the pitch and faced the ‘haka’ the Cymoedd squad knew the match in front of them was going to be a tough challenge. Their opponents being, Hamilton Boys’ High School, from New Zealand; former school of Wales’ Head Coach, Warren Gatland.

The match was the last fixture in their month long tour to Ireland and Wales, which had seen them play Ulster Select Schools, Belfast, Blackrock College, Dublin and Coleg Sir Gar.

The game got underway, with Cymoedd dominating the opening exchanges to secure an early lead.  Despite a heavy downpour, which made conditions tricky, the standard of play was excellent with some good phases of play, resulting in a Cymoedd lead at half time.

The visitors came out strong in the second half and the defence of the Cymoedd squad was tested, but the resolute tackling from all the players ensured the visitors were denied additional points on the scoreboard.

The game settled down and Cymoedd dominated possession once again, repeatedly testing the defence of Hamilton.  There was an air of confidence in the Cymoedd play with both forwards and backs combining well.

Hamilton, however did not give in and looked dangerous when in possession of the ball.  However the final score was a true reflection of the game, with a well- deserved 44-8 win to Cymoedd.

After the match Cymoedd Coach, Clive Jones said “The match was a great opportunity for our boys to play a visiting team of this calibre and the determination of both teams to play attacking rugby made it a highly entertaining game for the supporters”.  I am proud of the lads, they played as a team and Hamilton had no answer to our strong performance”.

The match attracted interest from Cardiff Blues and also the Welsh Rugby Union, with renowned international players such as Wales’ National Forwards Coach, Robin McBryde and Under 20’s Coach Jason Strange, keeping a close eye from the stand.

Coleg y Cymoedd Rugby Academy has grown in strength and numbers over the past six years and has already produced thirty-four international players from Under 18’s and Under 20’s. Last week the team won the Welsh Colleges Cup Final for the 2nd year running, at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, beating a strong Sir Gar team 44-24 to become the 2016 WRU Rugby Colleges champions.


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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