Cymoedd learner builds successful career path

When Apprentice Andrew Hardy enrolled at Coleg y Cymoedd on a Work based carpentry programme he could not have imagined the successful learning journey that lay ahead of him.

Andrew from Pontypridd studied at the Ystrad Mynach campus under the supervision of Course Tutors Mansell Powell and Rhys Schofield.

Employed as an apprentice with Willis Construction Andrew demonstrated an exceptional ability to achieve Levels 1, 2 and 3 Diploma in Site Carpentry and Joinery; he also gained a Plumbing qualification, which he studied in the evenings. Andrew achieved excellent marks in both practical and theory tests and coped with a very busy workload in and out of college.

Course Tutor Mansell Powell said “Andrew always achieved a high standard of practical work – working well as an individual and within a group. Andrew was always keen to tackle difficult tasks to improve his skills and always encouraged other learners on the course with his ‘Can do’ attitude. He has already secured the prestigious title of NFB Apprentice of the Year and I am sure he has a very successful career ahead of him.

Commenting on his time at Coleg y Cymoedd Andrew said “ I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at the Ystrad Mynach campus under the mentorship of my tutors. I have learnt a great deal at the college and on site with Willis Construction. I would definitely recommend this course of study to anyone looking to get into the industry”.

Valleys learners awarded places on prestigious Hay Festival Beacons Project

Two creative writing learners from the South Wales Valleys are set to learn from some of the UK’s best creative industry professionals, including award-winning novelists, journalists and broadcasters, after securing a place on an exclusive writing course at this year’s internationally renowned Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival.

Lilianna Williams, 17, and Josephine Lee, 17, who both study at Coleg y Cymoedd, have beaten off stiff competition from across the country to bag themselves a place on this year’s Hay Festival Beacons Project – a prestigious, workshop residency held during Hay Festival Wales for 16-18-year-olds interested in writing.

Aimed at encouraging creativity among young people in Wales, the Hay Festival Beacons scheme offers a unique opportunity for twenty Welsh students to work with exceptional writers and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during Hay Festival to develop their writing skills.

They will spend four days and three nights attending events, participating in workshops, writing blogs and reviews, taking part in debates and immersing themselves in everything that Hay Festival has to offer. Each of the learners will be supported by a mentor throughout their stay.

Pontypridd learner, Josephine, who is currently studying AS levels in English, Psychology, Sociology and Drama at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus, is one of the Welsh learners to have been selected for the project. The budding writer from Rhydyfelin was chosen to take part in the scheme after impressing judges with a sample of her own creative writing.

She said: “To apply for the project, I submitted a piece of my poetry but I didn’t think I’d actually get a place as the project seemed very exclusive, with only 20 young people from Wales being chosen, and given the fact that, as an English student, I was competing in a highly competitive field for a place.

“When I found out that I had been selected I was very excited as I love writing. The experience will give me the chance to explore all elements of English and develop my interest in language.  It will be amazing to meet inspiring authors and to be surrounded by other aspiring writers during the Festival. I can’t wait! Plus, as I’m hoping to study English at university, it will also be great to add into my UCAS application to show my keen interest in the subject.”

Competing against hundreds of applications from all over Wales, the lucky learners secured their places on the project after impressing submitting their own creative writing work and answering questions on their reading and writing interests.

Former participants of the Hay Festival Beacons Project have gone on to careers in creative writing, publishing and the media, including the award-winning poet and playwright, Owen Sheers.

Rhondda learner, Lilianna, who is considering a career in journalism or editing, is also looking forward to the course. Lilianna, who is currently studying English, Geography and Criminology at AS, is hoping the scheme will develop and improve her writing skills.

Lillianna said: “My tutor at college encouraged me to apply for the project and I couldn’t believe it when I was told I’d got the place as hundreds of people applied. I’m passionate about English and know that I definitely want a career related to the subject, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how this experience could help my career.

“It will be really useful to gain knowledge, insights and tips from top professional authors. I’m hoping the workshops will help me to be more confident in my writing, as well as improve my skills and teach me how to adapt my work to different genres.

“The success of Owen Sheers, who previously attended the workshops, just goes to show the opportunities that the Beacons Project can open up – I can’t wait!”

Nantgarw campus crowned Cymoedd’s Five a Side Champions

A group of learners studying at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus recently held a successful Inter Campus Five a Side Tournament.

The second year Football Academy learners organised the annual competition as part of their course, which includes a variety of topics such as training and fitness, assessing risk, sports coaching, sports development and practical team sports; plus specialist areas including sports injuries, rules/regulations and officiating, exercise, psychology for sports performance and instructing physical activity and exercise.

Over 70 learners from the Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach campuses signed up to the tournament; eager to show off their ‘soccer skills’.

Even the wet start could not dampen their enthusiasm as they travelled to the venue at the University of South Wales playing fields.

Following some serious team talks on tactics the event kicked off, with learners displaying some excellent ball skills and superb sportsmanship.

After three hours of competition, the Manchester United Team of Nantgarw campus pipped the Liverpool Team of Aberdare campus to the trophy, which was presented by Phil Thomas, Head of Men’s Football at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Congratulating the learners Phil said” The event was a huge success and a credit to everyone involved with the planning of the tournament. The learners enjoyed the opportunity to represent their campuses and some competitive football took place. The nomination for Player of the Tournament was a hard call as so many learners played to a very high standard, however the award went to Kane Wall, Plumbing learner at the Nantgarw campus”.

Some of the Coleg y Cymoedd’s Health and Social Care learners taking part in a Welsh-medium First Aid course.

Some of the Coleg y Cymoedd’s Health and Social Care learners taking part in a Welsh-medium First Aid course. This course was funded with money from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. A teacher from Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun delivered the course which took place over two days on the Nantgarw campus. The learners were taught how to carry out CPR, to use a defibrillator and to put people in the emergency position. The course was very inter-active and the learners really enjoyed it. They will greatly benefit from having this additional qualification which is Emergency First Aid in the Workplace.


Alison Jones, the Head of Welsh Language Developments at the College said ‘ We are so grateful to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol for their support to enable the College to offer this interesting and useful course. It will be an advantage to our learners when they apply for jobs in the Care sector and is a great way of them maintaining their Welsh language skills too’.


College costume learners bring Shrek The Musical to life on New Theatre’s stage

A group of talented learners from a south Wales college will see the costumes and props they have created take the spotlight on stage for the opening night of the musical theatre adaption of the Oscar winning fairy-tale movie, Shrek.

Twenty-seven aspiring Costume Construction and Prop Making learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have been working tirelessly to create an array of costumes and props needed for the live action recreation of the Dreamworks animation, which arrives at Cardiff’s New Theatre from 29th May.

As part of a collaboration with Orbit Theatre, first and second year Costume Construction for Screen and Stage learners have taken on the challenge of bringing over thirty well-known characters to life. In addition to this, learners from the HND Creative Production Arts (Prop making) course have been tasked with designing and creating the supporting props and puppetry for the adaption of the hit film.

The learners, who study at the college’s Nantgarw campus, are working closely with the production team from Shrek the Musical, as well as working alongside the cast who have been attending regular fittings.

Throughout the process, learners have learnt about the requirements of costume for stage and gone outside their usual work to construct the unusual characters that feature in Shrek. This includes experimenting with body padding to create ogre costumes and producing various animal designs for the numerous characters included in the production.
Rebecca Southall, a first-year costume construction learner who is creating the mother and father ogre costumes, said: “Working on the costumes for the musical has provided me with some amazing experience in the industry.

“I’ve never really worked on theatre design before and it’s so interesting to see how it differs to creating costume for film. I’m really enjoying working closely with the cast and the production team throughout the project.”
After the success of previous collaborations with Orbit Theatre, including costume construction for the musical adaption of leading animation picture Madagascar, the learners were given another opportunity to work with the company. The show will see beloved characters like Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey and Lord Farquaad take to the stage to tell the story of an unlikely hero.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s two-year foundation costume construction course, which is delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales, aims to give learners a thorough introduction to costume construction within the industries of theatre and film.

Course leader and lecturer on the foundation costume construction course, Emma Embling, said: “It’s great to be working on another production at the New Theatre and the learners are finding the opportunity very exciting to be a part of. Taking part in projects with theatre companies really helps them to develop their skills and learn more about cutting and constructing costumes fit for stage.

“The collaboration provides learners with invaluable, hands-on experience in the theatre industry and they’re really enjoying seeing the costumes come to life.”

Richard Embling, Prop making Lecturer on the HND Creative Production Arts course, said: “Working alongside the costume construction course has provided the learners with a real understanding of the industry. There have been some really fun props to problem solve. It’s a fantastic way to end the year and everyone involved can’t wait to see their work on stage.”
You can see Shrek the Musical from Wednesday 29th May – Sunday 2nd June at the New Theatre, Cardiff. To find out more about the Foundation Costume Construction for Screen and Stage course at Coleg y Cymoedd, please visit –

Cymoedd learners benefit from Italian Work Experience

A group of learners from Coleg y Cymoedd travelled to Italy to participate in an Erasmus Programme. The ten learners studying on the Level 3 ICT course at the Aberdare campus were allocated work placements in a number of Italian organisations near Pisa, North West Italy to experience the culture and language.

To plan the trip, staff at the Aberdare campus had worked closely with a partner college in Italy – CSCS.IT, based in Pistonia, Tuscany. The identified placements on offer ranged from an Architect’s office to a printing company but all placements included various computer related activities.
The Erasmus Mobility Project Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion has provided opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, and gain experience abroad which enabled this educational trip to take place.

The educational value of the Erasmus trip is evident but it also provides the learners with an opportunity to experience valuable work practices in a different culture to their own. This has encompassed expanding their Italian language skills in day-to-day situations, which has greatly increased their confidence and self- esteem. For many this was their first visit to a European country, which will hopefully give the learners a new thirst for travel, in the future.

During the two-week placement whilst the main focus was on gaining employment experience the staff arranged a programme of cultural activities including visits to Florence, Pisa and Lucca which are renowned for their Renaissance art and architecture adding a deeper dimension to the student experience.

ICT lecturer, Michaela Jones said” The learners were a credit to themselves and the college whilst they attended their work placement and on all the cultural visits that we made. I hope the learners enjoyed the experience and that they will continue to travel into their adult lives”.

Seventeen- year old Sam Portingale from Abercwmboi, is studying on the Level 3 ICT course at Aberdare campus and was part of the group that travelled to Italy. Sam was allocated a work placement at Le Fotocopie a Printing Organisation, which gave him the opportunity to use various print equipment to compile hardback books and fashion T Shirts. Sam said, “We had a fantastic time and I enjoyed the whole experience from start to finish”.

Cymoedd learners set sail on ‘Challenge Wales’

A group of 10 learners studying on the Entry 3 Sport & Public Service course at the Nantgarw campus of Coleg y Cymoedd spent two action packed days aboard the world-renowned sailing yacht Challenge Wales”. The vessel is a 72- foot long, around the world racing yacht and is set up and run as a charitable initiative.

‘Challenge Wales’ charity is one of the most innovative youth work organisations in Wales, helping young people to achieve their potential. The volunteers donate thousands of hours each year to help young people develop their life skills to improve their employment prospects. In April, the qualified crew of ‘Challenge Wales’ who would be working with the group on this venture greeted the learners and tutor Val Smith at Penarth Marina, near Cardiff Bay. A safety briefing took place and the learners were kitted-out before setting sail along the coastline, to North Gower. To ensure a smooth voyage each learner played a vital part of the crew and was involved in helping to navigate, sail and steer, hoist the sails and prepare and cook meals for 12 hungry crew including vegan meals!


Liam Harris said, “It was great to have the opportunity to sail on a boat like this, it was hard work and we were kept really busy. We all had to work closely to ensure the safety of the crew and that everything went to plan. We carried out cooking and cleaning duties and the more exciting challenges of sailing the boat, including steering, learning the ropes and knots and preparing the sails. I really enjoyed the experience; the staff were brilliant and showed us so many new skills. We are all grateful to Mrs Smith for making this opportunity happen”.


Valerie Smith, Course Tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, who accompanied the learners on the sail training voyage said, “I was amazed how well the learners embraced the activities and tasks asked of them, despite being out of their comfort zone. They prepared and cooked the meals, cleaned the yacht and eagerly participated in all aspects of sailing.


This opportunity helps to develop teamwork skills, improve communication skills, develop self-confidence and self-esteem and improve social skills – whilst having a good time. The learners enjoyed and gained so much from the trip including a qualification for the Agored Cymru accreditation in Teamwork and skills towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. The learners were Joseph Furgusson, Liam Harris, Troy Bingham, Mark Griffiths, Keian Woodington, Owen Morris.


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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