Teenage dancers to learn from the stars

A college dance tutor from Coleg y Cymoedd has taken centre stage at London’s famous Pineapple Dance Studios, home of the hit TV show with Louie Spence, to bring back the latest moves to her class of aspiring dancers.    

Jaye Lord, who heads up the college’s Performing Arts department, travelled to the studios founded by international model Debbie Moore OBE, to bring back choreography and new techniques created by the industry’s best for the stages of the West End to her learners in the South Wales Valleys.        

Throughout the week, Jaye took part in a range of dance classes with some of the industry’s top names, including a session with acclaimed dance choreographer Lukas McFarlane, the name behind choreographies on So You Think You Can Dance and the X Factor.

The tutor is now working to incorporate her experience into her own lessons to allow her learners to develop the modern dance and jazz techniques that would normally be accessible to the stars of the big stage.   

Jaye said: “It’s important to me that I continually develop my course to offer the very best and latest techniques to my learners to help them best prepare for a career in the industry. Spending a week at the top establishment in London has been an amazing experience.”

As well as professional dance classes at the renowned studios, Jaye also took part in visits to two highly regarded theatres in London as part of the educational trip – the Theatre Royal, Drury lane, home to classic Broadway musical 42nd street, and the Adelphi Theatre, currently hosting the popular stage show Kinky Boots.

The behind the scenes access allowed Jaye the chance to discover how the Capital’s leading theatres operate, and the opportunity to give her learners a first-hand account into what it takes to become a West End performer.

Jaye continued: “My time at Pineapple studios was surreal. It’s a very special place – after all you see it on TV and it has a lot of prestige attached to it in the world of dance. It was an honour to take part in classes with big names in dance and learn from the very best and visiting the working theatres provided me with a real insight into the day to day life of a West end performer, which will help me to tailor my classes accordingly.

“I’m looking forward to taking back what I’ve learnt to the classroom and incorporating new techniques into our performances.”

Two Cymoedd learners are recognised at Young Carers Awards

Two learners from Coleg y Cymoedd were recognised at this year’s Young Carers Awards, Young Carers Count” which were held at Rhondda Heritage Park.

The annual Awards organised by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council RCT Young Carers Service celebrate the important work undertaken by Young Carers and the huge contribution they make in supporting family members in an unpaid capacity.

17 year old Young Carer Elisha Jones from Pentre, Rhondda was presented with an award for Inspirational Carer whilst fellow learner 17 year old Chelsea Algate from Tonypandy received the Educational Achievement Award.

Supporting the learners at the event, Coleg y Cymoedd’s Welfare Officer Laura Wilson     said“I am delighted that both Elisha and Chelsea have been recognised for their dedication to their role as young carers. They thoroughly deserve the awards and are excellent role models. Former Cymoedd learner Holly Williams also won an award at the event.

The Award ceremony is a brilliant opportunity to recognise these young people who play a vital role in the community, whether supporting a family member, a friend or neighbour; who without their help would not manage, due to illness, age or disability.

We want all our learners to be able to participate fully in their education to achieve their full potential in life, whatever their career path”.

Coleg y Cymoedd has led the way in the F.E. sector achieving the Bronze Level Certificate in the Young Carers College Award; designed by Rhondda Cynon Taf Carers Support project. To achieve the Bronze Award, staff needed to evidence a dedication towards identifying young carers and supporting them as a group of vulnerable learners. The college is currently in the process of working towards securing the Silver Award for Young Carers in Education.

Italian dream for aspiring Valleys teachers

A group of aspiring teaching students from South Wales have been offered the chance to pursue their dream careers working with children in Italy following a work placement on the outskirts of Venice.

Four learners from Coleg y Cymoedd swapped the South Wales Valleys for the Mediterranean sunshine after spending a fortnight working abroad as part of a trip arranged by their tutors.

Katie Price, 20, Caitlan Billingham, 19, Abbie Fox, 19 and Wai Wai Chia, 37 spent two weeks working at a local nursey and primary school in the North Italian town of Castelfranco Veneto, just 25 miles from Venice, as of the trip.

The second-year learners, who are all studying children’s care at college, gained an insight into the Italian education system, learning how the curriculum and culture differs to the UK, while also getting hands on experience working with children.

Katie, from Maesycwmmer is one of the learners who took part in the trip, organised through the ERASMUS+ EU funding programme.

Not fazed by the language barrier, Katie impressed staff with the high level of support she offered to pupils, as well as her willingness and enthusiasm to undertake any task that came her way. In fact, her managers were so impressed that she has been invited back for another placement.  

Katie, who is set to study primary education at Brighton University in September, hopes to take a year out from the course to return to Castelfranco.

Katie said: “Working in Italy was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. Seeing how another country educates its children compared to the UK was very useful and interesting, giving me an insight into how I can improve certain areas of teaching. It’s opened up my eyes to alternative ways to engage children and help with their academic and social development. I have learnt a lot on the trip that I will definitely take back to the classroom with me when I qualify as a teacher.       

“Everyone was so welcoming and I built some great relationships with both staff and children while I was out there. I didn’t want to leave and am really going to miss everyone. I was so happy when the school invited me for another placement and cannot wait to return. Once I qualify as a teacher, I would definitely consider making the move to Italy!”

In addition to working in the schools and nurseries in Castelfranco, Katie and her classmates also got the chance to indulge in some Italian culture, visiting the nearby town of Treviso and the famous city of Venice.

All four of the learners are studying a level 3 Extended Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development at Coleg y Cymoedd.

The course, which takes place at the college’s Ystrad Mynach campus, is designed to enable learners to progress to university or gain employment within the sector including roles such as a teaching assistant, one-to-one support assistant, nursery nurse, or children’s holiday rep. 

Angela Jones, course tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Care said: “The visit to Italy provided the learners with an excellent opportunity to utilise and enhance the skills that they have developed so far during their education.

“They were able to see different styles of play and teaching, as well as learn how to plan activities and assess and observe children. Experiencing a different culture and approach to education will be hugely beneficial to the learners, helping them broaden their skills sets and knowledge, best preparing them for a career in the industry.”

National Apprenticeship Week @ Coleg y Cymoedd

Coleg y Cymoedd celebrated National Apprenticeship Week by hosting a number of events across its four campuses; whilst also supporting many external Apprenticeship events.

The college delivers a wide range of Apprenticeship Programmes including Childcare, Construction, Engineering and Railway; and is recognised by Welsh Government for its quality delivery and outcomes, specifically in Engineering and Manufacturing. It is also acknowledged for its responsiveness to the local labour market needs.

Following last year’s successful activities the college, again invited employers from across Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and surrounding areas to join them for presentations, Information sharing sessions and Networking opportunities.

Employers also took the opportunity to promote their apprenticeship schemes and any employment opportunities in their organisations to the hundreds of learners across the four campuses.

A new addition for this year’s Apprenticeship Week celebrations at the college was the Women’s Apprenticeship Event held on International Women’s Day.  This was a great success with speakers from a range of backgrounds providing inspiring presentations.

Deputy Principal Karen Phillips welcomed the guests and gave an overview of her own experience of traineeships when she was first employed by the Local Authority.

Guest speaker Karen Green left a job in the Catering industry to Melin Homes as a Community Development Officer. Her message at the event was ‘There are lots of routes in Construction for women – Take every opportunity’! Karen stressed how important Careers advice is when choosing a career and advised that Melin Homes is currently working on a Schools project to change mind sets.

Apprentice Hannah Colston was the next speaker at the event, she shared her experiences of being a female apprentice in a male dominated sector. When Hannah left school she didn’t feel ready for university and decided to enrol on an apprenticeship at the college.  This she found to be a life changing experience, boosting her confidence while she was learning and earning.

She has won numerous awards including European Apprentice of the Year and is now employed as a trainee QS at Trojan Construction and is enrolled on a degree course at University of South Wales.

Following Hannah, Dawn Evans, MD, Ajuda Training Services gave a personal presentation on her route into employment and setting up her business. She advised whilst at school she was more sporty than academic and it was through the knowledge gained via her vocational training that focussed her to set up her training company. Now Dawn has purchased a training centre in Cardiff and has completed three degrees, in Education, Sustainable Leadership and Female Entrepreneurship.  Her advice ‘Have confidence, passion and believe in yourself’

The final speaker on the programme was successful business woman – Tracy Smolinsky.  Tracy shared the fact that she was not academic but did sit her GCSE’s. Her first job was in admin in a Finance House; she quickly learnt that was not for her. She switched employment and went to work for the Western Mail, selling advertising. In 2007 she attended her first Networking event with the organisation and fell in love with networking. In 2008, together with an investor, she set up her company Intro Biz; which she currently runs with her partner –Later this year at their Expo event – there will be a special appearance by Lord Sugar.

Reflecting on the weeks activities Matt Tucker, Director of Business Services said” Apprenticeship Week is a key date in our calendar, it’s an important time for us to raise the profile our Apprenticeships and related courses, engage with employers and promote the benefits and opportunities of the programmes.  Each year we try to expand the week’s activities, and this year we included the Women’s Event on March 8th, to mark International Women’s Day. We are grateful to everyone who supported our events and look forward to working with them throughout the year.  Planning for next year’s Apprenticeship Week is already underway”!

Welsh call up for three Valleys learners

Three budding female footballers from the South Wales Valleys are celebrating success after being given the chance to represent their country at an international cup.

Ellie Lake, 18, Amina Vine, 17, and Alice Griffiths, 17, were selected to represent Wales at this year’s Cyprus Women’s Cup.

The three learners, who are all studying BTEC Sport at the college’s Ystrad Mynach campus, flew to Cyprus this month to compete in the annual cup against eleven other national sides including Finland, Italy and Austria.

Eighteen-year old Ellie, from Aberdare, made the squad after impressing the national women’s head coach while representing the under 19s squad during the qualifying stages. Ellie was an integral part of the team, helping Wales to qualify for the first time in eight years.

Speaking about the experience, Ellie said: “I was so excited when I was named in the squad, especially with the competition being extremely high.  which is a good sign for a strong side going into the competition”.

Ellie was joined at the competition by Amina and Alice, from Caldicot and Aberdare respectively. The aspiring stars are no strangers to the Welsh line up, with both learners having previously represented Wales in the U16, U17 qualifying campaigns.

Commenting on the players’ successes, Claire O’Sullivan, Co-ordinator and Head Coach of the Wales Elite youth Football Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd commented: “Representing Wales is an outstanding achievement for the three learners, reflecting their exceptional skills as well as their hard work and dedication.

“The girls’ accomplishments are also testament to the quality of the player pathway that has been set up by the Football Association of Wales and the college, with the academy now boasting 16 learners who have represented their country. 

“Everyone at Coleg y Cymoedd is extremely proud of the learners and we look forward to seeing their professional careers develop.”

Recognition for Coleg y Cymoedd’s support for LGBT

Coleg y Cymoedd is proud to announce that it has climbed nearly 200 places and is now ranked 202nd out of 434 in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

Now in its fourteenth year, the latest edition of the annual Index received submission from over 430 UK businesses and institutions across the public, private and voluntary sectors and more than 92,000 responses from employees to the Staff Survey.

The Index is published each year by Stonewall and is billed as ‘the definitive list, showcasing the best employers for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff.

The College has been a member of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme since 2016 and made its second submission to the Index in September 2017.

Coleg y Cymoedd aims to create an inclusive, welcoming and safe environment which respects and celebrates the diversity of its staff, learners and the achievements of LGBT people both within the College and throughout the wider community.

Taking part in the Index Survey shows the college’s commitment to understanding and advancing LGBT equality. This year’s improved ranking is a testament to the guidance, policies and support the college provides and also the commitment of the many staff who contribute support and awareness-raising activities on each campus.

Acknowledging the improved ranking David Finch, Vice Principal said” Over the past 18 months Coleg y Cymoedd has organised many equality and inclusion activities across the four campuses including participation in positive campaigns such as the Rainbow laces campaign, promotion of awareness events such as LGBT History month, Hate Crime Awareness and International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

We have seen real progress in terms of our LGBT equality and inclusion and we look forward to continuing to work together in our ambition to be a truly inclusive place to work and study”.

Going forward the College is planning for more substantial engagement with Pride Cymru and other community engagement events; and will also be looking at its internal processes e.g. Procurement, to ensure our suppliers are committed to LGBT inclusivity.

Gold win for Cerys and team

A RHONDDA student was part of a gold medal-winning team in a national media skills competition.

Coleg y Cymoedd student Cerys Coleman was part of a trio that competed against students from across Wales in a two hour storytelling challenge as part of Skills Competition Wales.

The competitors were given a series of images and tasked with creating a storyboard using these images during the preparation time.

They then had to create a short film based on the story, with Cerys and her team, which also included Sam Sheppard and Jarrad Thomas- Gilbert, creating a horror movie.

Cerys, who is from Llwynypia said: “I couldn’t believe we had won; I was actually crying. Taking part has given me the confidence to get ahead in my career and helped me decide my future”

Competition success for Valleys photographer

A 46 year old from Senghenydd has won a gold medal in the final of a national skills competition.

Backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales is a series of events held in colleges across the country, designed to celebrate vocational skills and create highly skilled, talented employees for the Welsh workforce.

Johanna Skelding, who is currently studying for a three year Foundation Degree in Digital Photography at Coleg y Cymoedd, competed against seven other students from across Wales in a photography competition.

The competitors were tasked with producing photographs along the theme of ‘Year of the Sea’. The competitors submitted photographs to be used by Visit wales, to encourage tourists to visit destinations along the Welsh coastline in particular.

For her submission, Johanna photographed Cardiff Bay, Penarth, New Quay, Southerndown and Rest Bay.

Johanna said,” It was my grandfather that first got me interested in photography, when I was about ten years old. He would ask me to pose for photos and he used to make his own frames. He gave me his camera which inspired me to take up photography as a hobby.

I find photography really therapeutic. I’m part of a camera club in Caerphilly and some photographers in our group have done photography for some very prominent magazines, including National Geographic.

Being able to chat to them and share experiences has really inspired me and got my creative juices flowing.

My dream would be to exhibit my work in a gallery and I think the competition has helped me become closer to achieving this”.

What Wales means to Cymoedd learners

When learners at Coleg y Cymoedd were asked to answer the question ‘What does Wales mean to me?’ they certainly rose to the challenge.  The competition was open to individuals and groups across the four campuses, with the option of using any medium to convey their answer.

The competition was part of this year’s Welsh Week which has become an annual event in the Coleg y Cymoedd academic calendar. The week is an opportunity to celebrate all things Welsh, and includes a range of activities across all four campuses. The aim is to encourage learners and staff to celebrate their heritage and their language.

Each Campus Director was given the task of choosing the winning entry on their campus with the overall Coleg y Cymoedd winner being selected by Vice Principal David Finch and Lois Roberts, Welsh Language Officer at the College.

The Aberdare Campus winners were a team from Creative Art and Media with their entry – A giant sheep piñata. The team included Andrew Hopkins, Callum Hooker, Rachel Romans, James Patterson, Vince Maxwell and Ellie Maguire.

The Nantgarw winning entry was from Olivia Capelin, studying on the Level 2 Access to Science course. Olivia prepared a Welsh afternoon platter including Welsh produce served on Welsh slate.

At the Ystrad Mynach Campus, Level 1 Painting and Decorating learners Alannah Horne, Melissa Griffiths and Sophie Birkenshaw took the prize for their Art work entitled ‘Calon’ (the Welsh word for heart) with images of Welsh symbols including daffodils and dragons.

Securing not only the Rhondda Campus prize but the overall prize were Foundation Skills in Construction – Group 2; with their minature Welsh dresser made from virgin wood with intricate detailing.  Making up the team of overall winners were:- Zakk Bourne, Rhys Derham, Garin England, Nico Hemming, Dylan Jones, Tarian Morgan, Keenan Moulding, Zac Parsons, Tomos Pearce, Jenson Pride, Cameron Sandilands, Jac Stone, Levi Harris and Jack Hefford.

Congratulating the learners, Lois Roberts, The Welsh Language Officer said: “The standard of entries for this year’s competition was incredible. Learners from all campuses worked hard to create something unique that represents their love of their culture and heritage. This competition is a great opportunity to showcase the talents of Coleg y Cymoedd’s learners and to celebrate what makes Wales unique. Da iawn bawb!”


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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