Cymoedd learners make reading fun

Coleg y Cymoedd has committed itself to working with the wider community of Llwynypia with the aspiration of bringing its facilities and services into the community.

One of the projects has been an exciting collaboration developed with Treorchy Primary School, where learners from Coleg y Cymoedd are putting the theory learnt at the college into practice. The enthusiastic learners, studying on the Level 2 Child Care Learning and Development course at the Rhondda campus volunteer at the school, hosting a series of Coffee mornings and a ‘Read with me’ project in their Family Room.

The project which commenced this month promotes reading as a fun and social activity; adding some fresh ideas to encourage participation.  The school has been encouraged with the results as they have already seen an increase in the number of parents, grandparents and carers visiting the school.

The school is proud of its Open Door policy and is fortunate to have facilities such as its Family Room to host such initiatives. Headteacher, Louise Reynolds said” We welcome learners and community partners in to our school. This project very much promotes the New Curriculum and it is envisaged that families attending the project will feel more prepared to support their children at home particularly with reading and homework. It is our intention to engage pupils of all ages and we look forward to working with Coleg y Cymoedd on future projects”.

Eva Tewkesbury, Childcare Tutor at the college who has been responsible for supporting the learners’ involvement at the school added, “This is a great opportunity for our learners to develop their skills in leading on such a project. They designed invitations to encourage family and friends of the pupils to attend the sessions and provided exciting ideas to engage reluctant readers, encourage talented children and support the ‘family’ reading experience. Our learners have embraced the scheme and are a credit to our department. I would also like to extend my thanks to Mrs Anstee, leader of the project and all the staff at Treorchy Primary School for the warm welcome they have extended to our learners”.

Shan Bowen, Campus Co-ordinator echoed the comments of her colleague adding” Staff at the college are aware that transitioning from school to employment practice can prove daunting for some of our learners. At the college we hold a months’ activities, Preparing for Employment; which has proved beneficial, giving the learners the confidence to volunteer at the Breakfast Reading initiative”.

Cymoedd learner Tiegan Owens, 17, from Tonypandy who is a volunteer at the project said” I’m really enjoying working with the school on the Breakfast Reading Club project, it’s been a great experience. I really enjoy reading stories and getting a better understanding of what books children love. It’s great to sit down with a group of pupils and their families to look at different ways to enjoy books. Each week I’ve noticed the confidence of those attending improve, as we chat about the book. When I complete my college course I would like to work in a school setting and this has given me the ideal opportunity to experience this employment.

Commenting on the success of the project Mrs Anstee, Deputy Headteacher at Treorchy Primary said” We are really pleased with the success of the project, the college learners have embraced the challenge and demonstrated high levels of motivation. They have met with the pupils, discussed their favourite story books and created sacks full of reading materials to capture the learners’ imagination when reading. We look forward to working with the college on future activities”.

Coleg y Cymoedd announces new Principal

One of Wales’ largest further education colleges, Coleg y Cymoedd, has appointed Karen Phillips as its next Principal and Chief Executive.

Ms Phillips, who has served as Coleg y Cymoedd’s Deputy Principal since 2008 (then known as Coleg Morgannwg), will succeed current Principal, Judith Evans, when she retires from 1 January 2019.   

As Deputy Principal, Karen Phillips has been credited for the leading role she has played in guiding the college through a continuous curriculum development process, major infrastructure projects and strategic analysis of relevant market trends influencing the further education sector.

Most notable highlights include the merger of Coleg Morgannwg and The College Ystrad Mynach in 2014 to form Coleg y Cymoedd, and, her management of a capital investment programme encompassing several multi-million-pound projects across four campuses, including the construction of the college’s £40m Nantgarw campus which opened in 2012.

Prior to entering the education sector, Ms Phillips enjoyed a highly successful career in the commercial sector, which included over 11 years as chief executive of one of Wales’ leading law firms, Capital Law.

In addition to providing an opportunity to apply her commercial acumen to new challenges in the education arena, the decision to join the college in 2008 also represented something of a return for Ms Phillips, who herself studied at the college 35 years ago at the Rhondda and Rhydfelin campuses.

Commenting on her appointment and plans for the college’s future, Karen Phillips, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to lead the college that had such an input into my own education and career.  I feel privileged to work alongside my colleagues as we strive to make a difference to the learners who come to study with us.”

Coleg y Cymoedd serves more than 12,000 learners from the boroughs of Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf. In addition to vocational training the college also provides the largest choice of A-levels on one site to around 400 learners. The college employs 800 people working across four campuses – Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda, and Ystrad Mynach.

Welcoming Ms Phillips into the role she has herself served with distinction for over ten years, Judith Evans, serving Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Karen has already had a great influence over the college’s strategic direction and this will continue.  I have every confidence that the college will go from strength to strength under her leadership”

College learners’ creations take centre stage at BAFTAs

A group of learners from a college in the south Wales valleys have seen their creations take centre stage in the limelight at this year’s British Academy Cymru Awards.

Six budding prop makers from Coleg y Cymoedd have been busy bringing to life the iconic masks for the annual British Academy Cymru awards ceremony set, after teaming up with the charity on the project.   

The learners; Emily Wright, Lee Vowles, Zoe Crisp, Peter Davies, Phil Bryant and Cory Thomas have spent three weeks working tirelessly to create more than 50 gold and silver masks for the awards.

These included a one-meter high mask prop for the set, as well as dozens of other masks which were scattered backstage, throughout the event’s after party and to be used in photos with guests.

Learners on both the Higher National Diploma (HND) in ‘Creative Production Arts’ and the BA (Hons) in ‘TV and Film: Prop Making’ were given the opportunity to take on the exciting challenge.

Both courses are designed for learners looking to follow a career in special effects or prop making for television and film, with both courses incorporating a strong emphasis on practical work experience.

Emily Wright, 29, from Llantrisant, one of the college learners involved in the project said: “Being involved in creating the masks has been an amazing experience. I jumped at the opportunity when it was offered to us as BAFTA is such a big name and fibre glassing is an important skill to have as a prop maker, so this was a great opportunity to further practise this skill and create work of a high-quality industry standard. I also had the opportunity to teach other students how to do the fibre glassing and really enjoyed passing on skills that I had learnt within industry.

“The experience has been great in terms of building my portfolio – BAFTA is so instantly recognisable and will definitely be attractive to potential future employers. It has reinforced by ambitions of wanting to become a prop maker, particularly for theatre, festivals and big events.”

The project collaboration with Coleg y Cymoedd came about thanks to the college’s relationship with prop and set supplier DRESD, who put course tutors in touch with BAFTA Cymru after originally being offered the work.

Following a design briefing to the learners from Rebecca Hardy, Awards Manager at BAFTA Cymru , who also provided the relevant equipment for the project, the learners got to work building and decorating the masks using fibreglass techniques, putting the skills they have learnt during their studies into practice.

Alistair Aston, course leader on the BA (Hons) in TV and Film Prop Making at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Gaining industry experience and building contacts within TV and film is extremely important for learners looking to pursue a career in this field.

“We aim to give learners on our courses plenty of opportunities to meet key people working in the industry and go out and work with local and national production teams. Past learners have worked on some fantastic projects such as Doctor Who and Casualty, as well as a number of feature films.

“We are extremely thankful to BAFTA Cymru for allowing learners to be involved in the awards. This has been a fantastic experience for all involved and the learners have been very excited to develop work for such a prestigious event. The experience will equip learners with work-ready skills and a network of industry contacts to draw on when they leave.”

Following the success of this year’s collaboration, the college is now in talks about how it might be able to help BAFTA Cymru in the future.

Hannah Raybould, director at BAFTA Cymru said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed teaming up with learners at Coleg y Cymoedd for this year’s British Academy Cymru Awards. As well as the more well-known actress and actor categories, the BAFTA Cymru are very much about celebrating and championing those working in the many craft areas of the industry and we are committed to supporting the next generation of talent.”

Hairdressing learners support ‘Go Pink for Ystrad Mynach’

A group of Hairdressing and Beauty learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have volunteered to provide free Hairdressing and Beauty treatments to patients and visitors at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in support of the Turn the Town Pink campaign.

Both groups of learners are offering different promotional activities in support of ‘Go Pink for Ystrad Mynach’.

Hairdressing Diploma Level 1 and Beauty Therapy Level 2 learners at the Ystrad Mynach campus will be promoting the campaign during their practical sessions within the salons.

Hairdressing Diploma Level 3 and Beauty Therapy Level 2 learners will also be at the hospital providing services to raise awareness of the fundraising activities to provide a Breast Care Centre of Excellence at the hospital.

Joanne Harris, Course Tutor said” When we were approached by Alison Roberts, Campus Director at Ystrad Mynach campus to come up with ideas to support such a worthy cause we jumped at the opportunity to get involved as this experience gives our learners the opportunity to put their newly learnt skills into practice, in a working environment and to give something back to the community.  

Working with clients will also help to improve their communication skills and overall customer care, which are important alongside their practical skills. I am proud of the learners who have been so enthusiastic to support such a vital facility for the area”.

One of the learners added “I’m looking forward to visiting the hospital to provide a service to the patients. I hope it will help to cheer them up while they are spending time there. We can take this opportunity to gain experience, not only of cutting hair etc. but also of communicating with the patients. It’s also good to be supporting the Go Pink for Ystrad Mynach campaign to fund the Breast Care Centre of Excellence – I’m sure we all know someone who has received treatment at such important facilities, it will be good to have one at our local hospital.

Campus Director, Alison Roberts added her thanks to the staff and learners stating “It is fantastic that the tutors and learner want to get behind this event.  I know that the School of Hair and Beauty already work voluntarily at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr on a weekly basis and this is a fun way of continuing their commitment to the patients and our local community”.


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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