Coleg y Cymoedd sees best exam results ever with record breaking Oxbridge places

Check out our Success Page for Results Week 2023 here

It’s been another year of outstanding A level and vocational results at Coleg y Cymoedd as the college celebrates an impressive three Oxbridge offers and its highest ever number of offers from Russell Group universities.

Hundreds of learners have flocked to its Nantgarw, Ystrad Mynach, Rhondda and Aberdare campuses today to collect their results and celebrate their achievements with classmates and tutors.  

The college, which is the largest A level provider in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, has reported high grades across both academic and vocational courses, with 86.2% of learners achieving A*-C grades as exam grading returns to pre-pandemic arrangements, up from 63.5% in 2019. The college’s A*-A grades have also gone up from 11.9% in 2019 to 36% today.

The Nantgarw-based A-level Centre has announced an overall pass rate of 99.7% per cent for 2023 with 21 out of 22 subjects having achieved a 100% pass rate including all Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well as English, History, Geography, Law, French and Psychology.

Following its A2 success over recent years, applications for learners to study A levels in the new academic year are also at the highest they have ever been since the campus first opened ten years ago.

As well as its strong A level performance, the college has also seen exceptional results from its vocational learners with more than 1,200 learners completing Level 3 qualifications.

Success stories from results day include triple A* learner, Carys Lewis, 18, from Pontypridd, who is headed for the University of Oxford’s Exeter College this autumn to study chemistry after landing top grades in chemistry, maths, and physics. After seeing others battling cancer, Carys was inspired to pursue a career in drug development so that she can play a role in finding cures and treatments for diseases.

Also securing a place at Oxford is Jacob Jones, 18, a budding physicist from Pontypridd who is off to study Physics at Jesus College after receiving 4 A*s in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and chemistry. Determined to increase his chances of getting a place at a world-leading university, Jacob spent last summer attending two residential summer schools at University College London (UCL) and Oxford.

He said: “Although I got good grades in my GCSEs, I didn’t think I would be good enough to go to Oxford. It was only when I got my AS grades, and my tutors reassured me I was more than capable, that I realised it could actually be an option. I’m now so excited to start university. I picked Jesus College because it’s known as the ‘Welsh college.’ Moving to Oxford will be a big change but hopefully being there will provide a sense of home.”

Another A* learner is 22-year-old Luc Jones, from Quakers Yard, who achieved an impressive triple A*s in Maths, Further Maths, and Physics, bagging a place to study Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, one of the most competitive undergraduate degrees offered by the institution. Originally studying a BTEC in Sport, Luc later realised his passions lay elsewhere, prompting him to re-sit his GCSEs and spend an extra two years in college to be able to switch to A levels and get into to a top UK university to study computer science.

Luc said: “I am so glad that I switched qualifications four years ago. While I had a great first year in college and loved my Sport BTEC, I realised it wasn’t the right path for me. I was a bit hesitant about changing courses, but my tutors were really accommodating and made my transition to A levels as an older learner seamless – it was the best decision I made. Being accepted into one of the top universities in the world is an amazing feeling!”

Over the last two years, Coleg y Cymoedd has invested significantly in its wellbeing support for learners, offering free counselling as well as dedicated one-to-one advice for anyone struggling with personal issues, from housing and finances to family problems and caring commitments. Young carers studying at the college are also offered additional support, including free meals, remote and flexible learning, help with transport and group activity days at locations like Zip World and BBC Studio tours.

One such learner is young carer, Ethan Tucker, a 21-year-old from Aberdare who has spent the last four years working towards his dream career in game production while caring for his grandparents. Initially thinking university would not be an option for him due to his grandparents’ reliance on him, Ethan’s tutors arranged for Rhondda Cynon Taf Young Adult Carers to support him with his caring responsibilities, to help make it possible. He is now excited to begin a Game Art degree at the University of South Wales this September.

Ethan said: “My tutors have not only made the practicalities of going to university possible, but they also inspired me to apply for a degree in the first place. They ignited a lot of confidence in me and helped me recognise that I’m capable of going to university. I hope I make them proud.”

Also flying the flag for the college’s vocational learners is Bethany Carter, a 17-year-old professional cookery learner, who has already been offered an opportunity to work at the award-winning hotel and restaurant, The Grove, Narberth after just one year at Coleg y Cymoedd, during which time she took home three awards at the Welsh International Culinary championships.  

Bethany said: “Being at college has opened up so many opportunities for me, from awards to the very placement that led to me getting this job. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am without the college’s support!”

Jonathan Morgan, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “As the first year that A level exams and assessments are returning to normal following Covid disruption, there was always some uncertainty around how results would look this year, but we are thrilled to see that our A* – A grades are the highest they have ever been, with a 24% improvement on our 2019 results. As a college, this year also sees our highest number of Oxbridge acceptances with three learners from our Maths and Physics classes securing places.

“The outstanding results that we have seen today, both A level and vocational, have been achieved thanks to the hard work and commitment of learners, the dedicated expert direction of subject and course tutors, as well as the comprehensive, personalised wellbeing support that we have implemented across the board.

“We are particularly proud of the excellent pastoral systems we have in place at our A level centre to guide and support learners through their studies, especially in light of the many post-covid challenges they have faced. I’d like to extend my congratulations to all learners on their successes today – they are so very well deserved!”

Coleg y Cymoedd Vocational Access students achieve historic first Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award

A group of three Coleg y Cymoedd Vocational Access students based in Nantgarw, Cardiff, have made history by achieving the first-ever Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award for their institution.

The prestigious achievement showcases the students’ dedication to self-improvement and to making a positive impact on their communities.

Available to young people between the ages of 14 and 24, the DofE programme is made up of three progressive levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) that are achieved by overcoming a personal challenge or boundary.

Qualifying activities involve demonstrating a commitment to the environment, becoming fitter, developing new skills and planning, training for and completing and expedition.

In order to attain the coveted Gold Award, the young person must further participate in a four-day residential unit.

This year’s Coleg y Cymoedd students achieved this feat in collaboration with Stump Up for Trees—a charity organisation based in Abergavenny. Courtney Williams, Ian Wilkes-Evans and Hannah Fletcher spent four days planting almost 2,000 trees.

Impressing assessors with their contribution towards conservation in the community, the students were awarded with the highest DofE accolade, and invited to Buckingham Palace to receive their certificates from a Member of the Royal Family early next year.

Kay Spears, a staff member who volunteered to help on the residential stay, spoke of the students’ achievements: “This was my first time on a DofE course and it was amazing to see all the hard work that goes into it.

The students were outstanding; they stepped out of their comfort zone and enjoyed every minute of it, making friends and building confidence. This was a milestone opportunity for them as they learned to believe in themselves. It’s so important for young people to face challenges head on and prove to themselves just what they’re capable of.”

Through the programme, the students have not only had fun and improved their self-esteem, but they also gained lifelong skills along the way.

Vocational Access Lecturer, Val Smith, led Coleg y Cymoedd’s DofE entry this year. She commented: “The enhanced skillset following a DofE expedition includes resilience, problem-solving abilities, team-working capabilities and communication. Skills in these areas will not only help the students personally, but will enhance their CVs as well as university and job applications.

Top employers highly value individuals who possess these work-ready skills, ensuring that Courtney, Ian and Hannah will be sought after as they enter the professional world.”

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Vocational Access courses provide accessible entry to further education and lifelong careers. Find out more by visiting: Access to Higher Education – Coleg y Cymoedd

Treorchy’s Jessica lands premium apprenticeship with BBC straight out of studies at Coleg y Cymoedd

Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Pryse from Treorchy, Rhondda, claims Coleg y Cymoedd set her on the path to success within the Welsh television industry.

Having always been fascinated by film and TV, Jess wanted to enrol on a college course that would channel her creativity. Never did she think it would lead to her getting her dream career in showbiz.

Intrigued by Coleg y Cymoedd’s good reputation and the wide range of courses they offer, Jess set up a meeting at the Nantgarw campus after leaving school. As a wheelchair user, Jess needed to review the site’s accessibility before completing an application.

The college’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity impressed Jessica and impacted her decision to enrol on the Creative Media and Production (TV and Film) course in 2019, something that she is glad she did.

College allowed Jess the freedom to be herself and encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone. A naturally shy person, Jess benefitted from how approachable the staff were, and how much confidence they instilled in her when making creative decisions.

“The more you step forward, the less scary it is. Thanks to the support of the very knowledgeable staff, I was able to socialise on the course and gain more experience.

My tutors were so down to earth and approachable. They prepared me for every experience I had the opportunity to take part in during my course. They completely calmed my nerves.

Experience is everything, the more willing you are to explore new opportunities that arises, the larger your network, and thus this increased my chances of securing a job in TV”.

As well as the personal growth Jess experienced, the course’s content allowed her to get a foot in the door in television.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Creative Industries is known for its first-class links within the industry. The Level 3 TV and Film course offers a work experience programme with ‘Boom Cymru’, makers of TV shows for S4C and BBC Wales.

“The links between Coleg y Cymoedd and creative professionals are really strong. We regularly had guest speakers in from companies like Badwolf [television company based in Cardiff known for its work on Doctor Who and His Dark Materials].

From a workshop we had I made a connection from there, they’d let me know when work experiences with them were coming up, and from that, I was successful in gaining a shadowing opportunity which I could add to my CV.”

Covering elements of production such as editing and script writing, on the Creative Media and Production course jess learned that she was most interested in the director/production side of TV, and she focused her attention on making her dream to become a director/producer a reality.

“After my time with Badwolf, I volunteered with ‘It’s my Shout’ and worked with them on their 2022/2023 documentaries as a Research and Production Assistant.

In the background, I had signed up for Screen Skills HETV Trainee Finder, which flags vacancies to go down the Producer/Director route. Through Screen Skills I also signed up for First Break, and I’ve just taken part in a work placement on the BBC’s upcoming series, ‘Lost Boys and Fairies’ as an AD Trainee. In April I found out I had secured an apprenticeship with the BBC’s 19-month Production Management that I’m due to start this September.”

When reflecting on how her studies impacted her life, Jess said: “My college course gave me a great foundation of learning, and through experience, I have developed a creative skillset which I often refer back to. I take my creative practice from college into every job I do.

The course has given me the confidence to chase my dreams, together with the knowledge and qualifications I need to step into the workplace. But, most importantly, it gave me confidence to challenge myself to do better.

I would definitely recommend the course to anyone who has an interest in TV. Just jump into the opportunity and keep your mind open to possibilities because you never know what’s next. What was just an idea for me has turned into what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Find out more about our Creative Industries courses, here: Creative Industries – Coleg y Cymoedd

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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