Cymoedd learners to experience ‘life’ at Oxford University

Three learners from Coleg y Cymoedd will be given the opportunity to experience life at Oxford University after being offered a place on the UNIQ Summer course. The learners who received notification of their places on the course earlier this month will start an online programme in April, before attending the Summer School in person in July.

The week-long fully funded Summer School is the University of Oxford’s access programme for state school learners and even provides support for all travelling expenses. UNIQ prioritises places for students with good grades from backgrounds that are under-represented at Oxford and other universities. 

Throughout the week the learners will experience life at university, both social and academic, gaining a deeper understanding of their chosen subject; with staff and ambassadors at hand to offer support and answer any questions.

Isobel Jones, one of Cymoedd’s learners attending the course said “I was pleased to get accepted on the course, as there is a lot of competition to secure a place. I attended Blackwood Comprehensive School and decided to join Coleg y Cymoedd to study A-Level Law, Sociology, History and English Literature / Language. I applied for UNIQ because I acknowledge that coming from the South Wales Valleys it is difficult to be accepted and get chances to go to prestigious universities, so I decided to apply to push myself to try and grasp as many opportunities as possible, as there is no harm in ever applying for things. I’ve been accepted to study English on UNIQ, which I hope to study at University after leaving the college.

Joining Isobel will be Aydin Dagdeviren, who has been accepted onto the Oxford UNIQ Summer School to study Medicine. Aydin studied at Islwyn High School before enrolling at Cymoedd’s A level Centre, Nantgarw campus, where he is currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics AS levels. Aydin’s career plans are to study Medicine at University, complete a PhD in Medicine, and become a fully qualified Rheumatologist.

The third member of Cymoedd’s group to attend UNIQ is Jacob Jones, who attended Pontypridd High school, before joining Cymoedd’s A Level Centre to study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Speaking about securing a place at UNIQ, Jacob said “I applied for the Physics course because I feel the experience will give me a valuable insight as to whether I would like to apply to study at Oxford University”.

Commenting on the success of the learners A Level Tutor, Holly Richards said “We are so proud of the learners, they have done well in securing places on UNIQ. It’s a very competitive process with thousands of learners applying for limited places. To have three A Level learners accepted on the course is excellent and highlights the calibre of the learners. I’m sure they will take every opportunity available to them during the week and leave with a deeper understanding of their subject and university life in general”.

Cymoedd’s Alumnus Jodie Neville attended the UNIQ Summer Course in 2019 when she was studying at Cymoedd’s A Level Centre. Speaking about her experience Jodie said “I’m sure the learners will have a great experience on the UNIQ Course at Oxford, the course is quite intense but it provides a good insight into university life. My advice to them would be enjoy the course and take every opportunity offered to you. It helped with my decision to apply to Oxford, where I am studying Law.

Cymoedd alumnus reflects on the importance of her A Level studies

Cymoedd Alumnus, twenty five year old Micaela Panes, from Cardiff but originally from Pontypridd reflects on the importance of FE to achieve her career ambitions.

Micaela left school to study A Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd as she felt the college would provide a fresh start and an opportunity to meet new people and gain more independence.

She chose to study History, Law, English Literature/Language, Psychology and WBQ, as although uncertain of what she would study at university, she felt these subjects would be a solid choice for most university requirements.

Since leaving Cymoedd in 2015, Micaela has been studying at Cardiff University, achieving a 2:1 B.A. History degree in 2018 and a MA with a Distinction in 2019. Last year she returned to Cardiff University to begin her PhD in History and Welsh History. Micaela is currently researching working class women’s labour activism in South Wales and South West England, c.1928-69. When she finishes her PhD she hopes to continue working in research and academia.

Speaking about her studies at Coleg y Cymoedd, Micaela said “The A Levels I chose equipped me with a range of transferrable skills which helped me both in work and my studies. I believe that studying really helped improve my confidence, both socially and in my work. I enjoy studying, and without further/higher education I would not be able to achieve my career ambitions.

The support and encouragement from the tutors at Coleg y Cymoedd is truly unmatched, each tutor really went above and beyond what was expected, especially in preparing me for university.

In addition, I received many opportunities whilst studying, which I don’t believe I would have had if I had stayed at school. I took part in Trading Places, had work experience at Eversheds (Law firm), went to summer school at UCL, and visited the Nantgarw archive/collections centre. The range of opportunities and courses helped me decide what I wanted to do and achieve in the future. Based on my experiences I have always recommended Coleg y Cymoedd to my family and friends.

Commenting on Micaela’s success since leaving Cymoedd, A Level Courses Tutor, Chris Griffiths said “It’s always a source of pride and humility to see your learners surpass you. Micaela was one of the most dedicated learners I’ve taught, her example should inspire others to realise their potential and become credentialed experts in their field. Her success is a testimony to what someone can achieve with the right attitude, work ethic and support.”

Cymoedd Business Learner secures his Dream Job in Accounts  

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Futures Employment Bureau has set Business and Finance learner, Luke Fogerty on the path to his dream career.

Twenty- year old Luke from Llantrisant was studying BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business at Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus whilst working part time to support his academic studies. The course included Business Environment, Business Accounting, Contract Law, Marketing, Recruitment & Selection, Business Communications and IT in Business; modules which Luke hoped would provide the relevant skills, knowledge and qualifications to secure employment in the world of Finance.

Despite applying for several job applications, he found it difficult to secure employment in his chosen career. Luke’s Course Tutor, Kim Purnell suggested he should engage with Futures Employment Bureau and that’s when things changed for him. The staff at Futures worked with Luke on his CV, to promote his skills and abilities to ensure it stood out from the crowd when applying for roles in an extremely competitive sector.

‘Futures’ Co-ordinator, Michele Harris – Cocker said “ When Matthew Moody, Director of Finance at Mii Engineering contacted Futures Employment Bureau seeking the opportunity of tapping into Cymoedd’s Business and Finance talent, I knew the person who would be the perfect match for their requirements.

Matthew explained the skills and criteria required for the role and Luke ticked all the boxes, with his transferable skills and professional approach, to fulfil the role of Accounts Assistant.

After consultation with Luke, he submitted his CV for consideration and when he was shortlisted we prepared for his interview.  Within a week Luke applied for the position, attended an interview and was offered the job.  

Luke is a delightful young man who will do well within in his career; from day one I could see his potential and determination to succeed in finding his dream job within a finance role. It really has been a pleasure supporting Luke into this fantastic employment opportunity”. 

Matthew Moody Director of Finance said “MII Engineering Ltd.  is a multi-disciplined engineering company based in South Wales, and execution of our projects is of the upmost importance; as we always strive to exceed our customers’ expectations.

The back-office function is also important and the same effort is deployed to ensure our controls are as strong and robust as they can be.

Luke joined us via Futures Employment Bureau at Coleg y Cymoedd, and has settled in well, quickly understanding our purchase process, and proven himself to be competent, keen and enthusiastic, exactly what we want from our employees. Retention of people like Luke is critical to our business, so partnering with Coleg y Cymoedd to develop Luke’s professional qualification makes sense”.

Luke added “Everyone at Mii Engineering have helped me settle in to my new full-time role as Accounts Assistant. I’ve received constant support and encouragement from my colleagues and I already feel very much at home within the office.

The support and guidance I received from Michele Harris-Cocker at Futures was pivotal to me securing this role. Michele helped me with my CV to ensure it was professional and captured all my skills and knowledge.  As soon as the opportunity arose at Mii Engineering, Michele contacted me immediately and confirmed that I was a good match; and therefore submitted my CV to Matthew Moody, Director of Finance, for consideration.  I was invited to attend an interview and shortly after offered the job!

I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and the faith that was shown in me by Michele and my new employer. Matthew took a chance on me allowing me to start my journey into the world of accounts and finance. I will be continuing my learning journey at Coleg y Cymoedd, enrolling on the AAT course”.

Ron completes a full circle at Ystrad Mynach

Cymoedd Tutor Ron Williams has laid down his tools after spending more than 50 years working and teaching in the Plumbing & Heating industry. 

Ron, originally from Llanbradach, Caerphilly but now living in Llandaff, Cardiff started his career in 1971, when he enrolled on the Plumbing, Heating and Gas Apprenticeship at the Ystrad Mynach College; which is now part of Coleg y Cymoedd. He enjoyed every minute of his studies and worked hard, doing his best to achieve good grades and in 1974 he was awarded College Student of the Year.

He went on to achieve City & Guilds Craft and Advanced Craft, with Distinction and Higher Education and Teaching qualifications. In 1978 Ron began his teaching career, lecturing part –time at the college, under the mentorship of Jim Manley, who also mentored fellow colleague Andrew Keenan. After a number of years, with no opportunity for full-time teaching Ron left education and had a successful career as a self employed engineer.

After 15 years in the trade, Ron’s passion for education saw him back in the classroom at various colleges, undertaking a variety of roles which included Lecturer, Assessor, Verifier, Learning and Teaching Mentor, Section Leader, Senior Lecturer, Short Course Co-ordinator, Energy Centre Manager, Renewable Energy Installer, Trainer and Quality Controller. Always keen to further his experience Ron worked in the Work Based Learning Team assessing WBL Apprentices and designed and delivered Community Education courses.

Ron was a true ambassador for Lifelong Learning and completed his PGCE, Cert Ed. qualifications, HNC in Construction and numerous short courses. His final role at the college was Gas Centre Manager, at the Ystrad Mynach campus, where he worked hard to increase interest in the energy sector.

It was not ‘all work and no play’ as Ron also sang and played the guitar in the college rock band at Christmas and end of year parties. Commenting on his retirement Ron said “I feel I have worked hard to pass on my vast experience to many learners and colleagues. I’d like to thank everyone, all staff and learners I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout this stage of my career.  I have enjoyed my time at the Ystrad Mynach campus, both as that young apprentice in the 70’s and more recently as the Gas Centre Manager. So keep at it, it is, Learning for Life!

Pontyclun rugby player’s aviation career takes flight  

A former Cardiff blues academy player has swapped the rugby pitch for the factory floor after securing an apprenticeship with a top Cardiff aircraft engineering firm.

22-year-old, Callun James, from Pontyclun, has decided to hang up his boots to instead pursue a career in aircraft engineering to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.

He has now landed a three-year apprenticeship with AerFin, a leading global specialist in providing cost-saving aftermarket support solutions to the aviation industry.

The apprentice, who is currently in his first year studying an aircraft engineering apprenticeship at Coleg y Cymoedd, originally dreamed of a career playing rugby professionally and previously played rugby for the under sixteen and under eighteen teams at Wales and Cardiff Blues before securing an academy contract with the latter.

However, after hearing his uncle and grandfathers speak about their jobs as aircraft engineers after work each day, Callun became increasingly interested in the aviation industry and was inspired to change direction and pursue a career in the sector.

To kickstart his journey to aircraft engineering, Callun decided to return to college this year, opting to complete a Level 3 at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Callun said: ‘I’ve always had an interest in aircraft engineering and loved hearing about the job from my family, who always spoke passionately about it. I loved rugby but I felt as if I needed to follow a true passion of mine which was aircraft engineering, as it has been a trade that I could follow my families footsteps in.

“As part of my apprenticeship, I am currently working at AerFin during the half-term holidays, while studying full-time at Coleg y Cymoedd. From September, I will be working full-time at AerFin which I am really excited about.

“Coleg y Cymoedd has been incredibly helpful, allowing me to gain a realistic insight into what it would be like to work in the industry, as well as hands-on experience that will help me with my career, thanks to the great facilities they have for aircraft engineering.”

Callun previously worked within the warehouse at AerFin and after seeing the apprenticeship advertised on LinkedIn, put himself forward for the opportunity, beating others from across the country to be on the programme.

David Howells, Head of Computing and Engineering at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “The future is bright for Callun. He is a very talented young engineer and we are incredibly proud of him. We look forward to following his journey with AerFin and seeing where his career will lead.

“It’s great to see learners from the college achieving their dreams. We have worked closely with industry to design courses and apprenticeships that ensure our learners leave college equipped with the skills they need to enter industries career ready.”


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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