There’s no ‘Escape’ for Cymoedd learners

A group of Cymoedd learners studying at the Nantgarw campus set a challenge for their peers to test their skills at problem solving, in a very different way.

As part of the Managing a Business Event unit of their course the Level 3 learners studying on the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business course at the campus were tasked with the organisation of an event.

They focussed on the Level 2 learners challenging their communication skills and their ability to work with learners from outside their course. The chosen venue was the Escape Rooms in Cardiff as it was local to the college and within their set budget.

The group set about the tasks required which included setting the date, sending invitations to the learners, booking the transport and venue and ensuring all college policies were adhered to; including of health & safety and consent for media coverage.

Fifteen learners, accompanied by two tutors arrived at the Escape Rooms to set about cracking the codes; they were grateful for the slight assistance from the game hosts when the going got tricky.

The learners spent one hour working in their teams to solve the clues, unfortunately despite their best efforts, not all of the learners escaped – however, they had an enjoyable experience and are keen to return for another challenge.

Accompanying the learners on the trip, Course Tutor Kim Purnell said, “The group worked hard to organise the event as part of their Unit – Managing a Business event. The activity was well planned and the learners who attended developed valuable skills by taking part in this fun activity”.

Following the visit, 16 year old Owen Hunt from Pontyclun who was part of the team participating in the challenge said” I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would love to go again. The Level 3 learners organised it very well which made the experience even better. Although we didn’t escape it was still really fun and skill developing”.

Tomos Williams (18) from Cardiff who also took part in the activity added, “I really enjoyed our trip to the Escape Rooms. It was quite a laugh and it clearly was a good experience to modify our problem-solving skills. It was also a great team building exercise”.

World renowned artists and designers inspire next generation of creatives

The creative brains behind Star Wars’ Yoda and designs in multiple blockbuster films have joined learners in south Wales to share their insights on how to create costumes and props ready for the big screen.

Learners at Coleg y Cymoedd were joined by acclaimed artists, designers and costume makers from across the world of film and design to hear about their careers and top tips on how to succeed in the industry.   

Internationally renowned fantasy illustrator and movie conceptual designer Brian Froud, and his wife Wendy Froud, the doll maker behind the original Yoda from Star Wars, visited the college’s Nantgarw campus to speak to its creative learners.

Boasting a forty-year career, Brian has worked on the illustrations for several fantasy art books, including Faeries, produced in collaboration with The Lord of the Rings conceptual designer, Alan Lee. Following this, Brian worked as a conceptual designer on 80s hit Labyrinth, starring David Bowie, and puppet-animated adventure film, The Dark Crystal.

American sculptor and puppet maker Wendy, who worked alongside Brian on Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, is best known for her creations in The Muppet Show and The Empire Strikes Back film. She has also authored and illustrated several of her own books. More recently, the husband and wife duo have worked together on the concept and character design for Netflix’s ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’.

As part of the lecture, the couple were also joined by Welsh puppet designer and performer, William Todd-Jones, who has performed puppets and creatures on numerous feature films including Harry Potter, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Muppets, Batman and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. William has also been involved in creating the Creature FX department for this year’s popular BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman’s, His Dark Materials. 

With over 500 young people studying creative subjects at Coleg y Cymoedd, the sell-out event provided a range of learners, including those studying prop making, costume construction, photography and art and design, with the opportunity to gain real insights from experts working within the industries that they are hoping to go into.

Following the lecture and a tour of the college’s workshops and studios, Brian and Wendy hosted a puppet making workshop with the learners, providing them with expert advice on creating their own masterpieces. In the lead up to the visit, the learners designed their own puppets inspired by Brian and Wendy’s work to be judged by them during their time at the college. The pair selected their favourite from the ‘Ready, Steady, Puppet’ contest and awarded the winning learner, Kamila Abramczyck, with a signed copy of their new book.

Competition winner Kamila, who studies HND Creative Production Arts with a focus on the design of props, said: “The opportunity to meet and talk to such inspiring and internationally acclaimed artists is such a privilege. My course works very closely with industry, which is so important when finding employment after I graduate.”

Alistair Aston, course leader of BA (Hons) TV and Film: Prop Making, said: “Having the opportunity to be in the company of some of the most talented designers and sculptors in the industry for the day was a truly wonderful experience for both our staff and students. Hearing about how they started their careers, their creative processes and what it was like to work with stars like David Bowie was absolute gold dust.

“It’s such an exciting time to be involved in the creative industries here in Wales, especially with the growth of high-end TV and Film productions locally. Having internationally renowned artists and designers, like Brian and Wendy Froud here at Coleg y Cymoedd supporting our courses can only give inspiration, confidence and value to our learners during their creative studies.”

Cymoedd celebrate Welsh Language Rights Day

On December 6th, the college celebrated the first Welsh Language Rights Day #maegenihawl, in collaboration with the Welsh Language Commissioner.

The aim of the day is to promote the use of Welsh language services provided by public bodies in Wales under the Welsh Language Standards of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. Coleg y Cymoedd is required to comply with over 200 Welsh Language Standards related to all aspect of college life.

This event was an opportunity to focus on and promote just some of the services the college provides for Welsh speaking learners, staff and members of the public: bilingual signage, bilingual content on Cymoedd social media platforms, the right to apply for jobs in the college through the medium of Welsh, correspondence and forms from the college in Welsh and a bilingual website. These rights were promoted across the four campuses at Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach and via the college’s social media channels.

Commenting on behalf of the college, Jonathan Morgan, Vice-Principal/Chief Operating Officer said “Coleg y Cymoedd is committed to the development of the Welsh language provision and bilingual services across the college”.

Echoing the work of the college in support of Welsh speakers, Rhys Journeaux, currently studying on the Level 1 Electrical Installation course at Ystrad Mynach campus added “The Welsh language is important to me. I am pleased that the College is looking after my rights as a Welsh speaker as it helps me develop my Welsh language skills”.

Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts acknowledged the work undertaken by the College and stated “Today there are over 120 organisations operating the Welsh language standards, which means that the public have a right to use the language with them. We are pleased that organisations such as Coleg y Cymoedd have taken the opportunity today to promote Welsh language rights. Let us now, as Welsh speakers and learners, make the most of our rights and chose the language.”

Cymoedd join litter-picking project

A group of Cymoedd staff and learners from the Nantgarw campus joined forces today with employees from NHS Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) who are located on Treforest Industrial Estate, to carry out a litter pick along Heol Crochendy.

The initiative in partnership with Keep Wales Tidy follows an invitation to the college from NHS Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) seeking their support of the project to address the problem and improve the area where they work and learn.

The estate is extremely busy with people taking advantage of their lunchtime ‘to get their steps in’; maintaining their fitness and wellbeing. However, over the past months the employees have been disappointed to see the amount of roadside litter; and decided to take action, inviting organisations based on the estate to join them.

Michele Sehrawat, Head of Pharmacy Workforce Planning and Consultant Practice at HEIW said” It was very exciting to join forces with college staff and students on the litter pick. All our volunteers were keen to get outside, get active and felt it was time well spent when we left the area cleaner than we found it.

As public bodies, we are all well aware of our role in communities, to do what we can to make them more attractive and well-connected. We will be working to build momentum by getting other organisations around the estate on-board”.

Commenting on the litter-picking project, Karen James, Campus Director at Nantgarw campus said, “The College is grateful for the invitation to join the litter pick project, which will hopefully become a regular activity. It was good to meet up with staff, learners and representatives from organisations based on the estate to help tackle the litter. Working together we can make a difference in attempting to make the area a litter free zone”.

Thanking the volunteers, Rhondda Cynon Taf Project Officer for Keep Wales Tidy, Jessie Longstaff added” Thank you to everyone who took part in the litter pick along Heol Crochendy. It was great to see the volunteers, staff and students from Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw campus and NHS HEIW come to together and make a real difference to our environment. A big thank you to Frankie and Benny’s for the free coffee, definitely needed on such a cold day!”

“People don’t realise this is what they’re going through.”

A powerful campaign raising awareness about coercive control in teenage relationships has been launched across Wales.

Part of the Welsh Government’s successful “This is Not Love. This is Control” campaign, social media adverts aim to help young people and their parents identify coercive control behaviours in their or their child’s relationships.

Coercive control is an often subtle and non-violent kind of domestic abuse, meaning it can be difficult to recognise and identify. Those experiencing it can be left feeling belittled and isolated from friends and family.

Dictating what someone can wear, messaging or phoning constantly when apart and forcing the cutting of contact with close ones are all examples of coercive control.
The adverts will run on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify over the next month and will target 16 to 18 year olds. Guidance is also available for adults to learn how best to support young people they may be concerned about.

A criminal offence since 2015, last year 17,616 offences of coercive control were recorded by Police across England and Wales.

A recent survey by ONS showed 9.6% of women and 6.5% of men aged 16 to 19 had experienced domestic abuse more than once.

A group of young people from Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus helped launch the latest phase of the campaign, speaking about experiences among their friends.
Dan*, 16, said: “I know of a lot of people who have had to deal with it. I think it is really common in our generation, especially with social media. So just tackling it as early as possible is really the key to helping get through it.

“If you’re dealing with it in everyday life, you can become desensitised to it and feel like it is not as much of a problem as it is. It’s a lot easier to manipulate someone over text because every person has their own interpretation of what someone is saying.”
Jamie*, 17, said: “I feel like people don’t realise this is what they’re going through. I think it can break a person’s self-esteem and make them feel trapped. It’s really good to be able to raise awareness so some can think, ‘oh that is happening to me.’
“A lot of it is around but you might not be able to see it. If a person isn’t aware they might get defensive over that person that they are getting controlled by. You should know your worth and that it is not ok. If this is happening to you, speak to anybody who can possibly help.”

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt said: “Young people may not have had the experience of a healthy relationship to know what is and isn’t normal behaviour and it is important we take every opportunity to talk to them about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.”

“Earlier this week we marked White Ribbon Day and the beginning of 16 days of action against abuse and violence. I met a number of youth advocates who are working hard among their peers to get the message out there that certain behaviours, language and attitudes are not going to be tolerated.”

“I hope this campaign will raise awareness of this toxic behaviour and empower young people to say it is not ok.”

If you’ve experienced coercive control or any kind of domestic abuse or want to help someone you know, call the Welsh Government-funded free and confidential Live Fear Free helpline on 0808 8010 800 or visit livefearfree.gov.wales to message an adviser 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
* names changed

Calum hoping to become the latest Welsh ‘Blue’

Cymoedd Alumnus Calum Haggett is a few weeks away from possibly fulfilling one of his dreams by playing for Oxford University in the Varsity Match at Twickenham.

The 138th ‘Battle of the Blues’ takes place at the home of English rugby on Thursday, 12 December, and the 23-year-old former Wales U18 captain is well placed to make an appearance in the second row for the Dark Blues.

He toured Japan with them at the start of the season, playing in the World Universities Invitation Tournament, and started in the big pre-Varsity Match game against the Major Stanley’s XV. Oxford meet Richmond this weekend in their final outing before Twickenham with Haggett hoping to get the nod for the big game from skipper Ed David.

“It has been a long road to get here via London, but I am glad I made it in the end. I got the offer first time around when I was out in South Africa with Wales U18,” said Haggett, who left Coleg Y Cymoedd with three As and an A* at A Level.

“I didn’t make the grade the first time and went back for another year, but then I didn’t get past the interviews the next year. I was shocked, demoralised and devastated and I thought I would never get to Oxford.

“By the end it was sheer effort after three great years at Imperial that made it third time lucky. I worked through the summer to get onto the post-graduate medicine course and I got there in the end.”

Still a member of the inaugural WRU Youth Board set-up by CEO Martyn Phillips, Haggett didn’t give up on his rugby career at Imperial, joining the London Irish Wild Geese side playing in National League 2. He also kept a very close eye on the players who he grew up with.

“Owen Watkin, Owen Lane, Rhys Carre were all in the Wales U18 team with me, as was Seb Davies. In the year above me at Cymoedd were Dillon Lewis and Tom Williams,” added Haggett, who learned his rugby at Tonyrefail Comprehensive School.

“The culture is everything there and they created a great learning and playing environment for me. I met with the A Level director from the college recently and I am trying to get more RCT children interested in coming to Oxford to study medicine.

“Too many think Oxford is out of their reach and isn’t for them, but there is nothing different about it. You may have to put on a gown once or twice a week, but that’s it.”

If he does see off competition from Jasper Dix, George Warr and the former Wasps professional Kearnan Myall and get into the second row to face Cambridge that will be a major achievement. Then the hard work will begin for the Magdalen College student.

Cambridge have recruited and will have two giants of world rugby in their engine room at Twickenham in former Australian and Harlequins captain James Horwill and Springbok giant Flip van der Merwe.

“It is very competitive for places in the Oxford team. It has been going alright so far and I’ve been pushing hard,” said Haggett

“My focus is on getting a Blue, but if it doesn’t happen next month I will have to work even harder next year to try to get into the team. It is a huge opportunity to play against two world leading second rows this year.”

Credits: Rob Cole

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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