Coleg y Cymoedd netball stars take on tough international opposition

Teen players from Welsh college netball’s champions-elect team, Coleg y Cymoedd, have taken on some of the best rising talent from South Africa in a hotly anticipated showdown.

The college’s first team, Cymoedd Blacks, which is on track to win this year’s Association of Colleges (AOC) Sports Wales Netball league, took on South Africa’s renowned Trinity House Randpark Ridge squad in a friendly game yesterday.

Having provided several internationals to the South African netball team, which beat Wales at last year’s Netball World Cup in Cape Town, Trinity House is widely regarded as one of the best teams in country, currently ranking at number 5 in the world.

The match at the Coleg y Cymoedd campus in Nantgarw came following a challenge by the Johannesburg-based private school, which was on the hunt for a Welsh college squad to compete against. Upon arriving in Wales and looking for a worthy opponent, the touring team was continuously recommended by other teams to test its mettle against Coleg y Cymoedd who they deemed best college netball team currently playing in the Welsh league.

Results in the friendly came in at a nail-biting 49-49 draw, with Cymoedd putting on a tough challenge for the South African team.

Cymoedd Black captain, Mileta Mitchell, said: “Having already proven ourselves as the best team in the country, it’s been thrilling to test ourselves against international opposition. Along with tonight’s celebrations after a successful season, today’s game has been a highlight of the year.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game against such a strong side, however we held up as best we could and gave them everything we’ve been working on in training for the last seven months. We showed strength after strength tonight with the girls demonstrating their trust and confidence in each other, and this game will only take us onwards and upwards. Big appreciation to South Africa for being such a skilled, hardworking team and giving us a clean hard-fought game resulting in one of the closest draws we’ve ever played.”

Trinity House coach Simphiwe Sithebe said: “I just want to say that we came in here with an open mind. We wanted to practice and work our combinations and to gel as a team. We were so happy to compete with Coleg y Cymoedd. It was an amazing game. Thank you to our opposition for a beautiful game!”

Following the game against the South African players, both the Coleg y Cymoedd (firsts) Cymoedd  Black and (seconds) Cymoedd Green teams, were honoured for a fantastic season with a celebratory evening attended by key names in sport including Mel Tuckwell, the former Welsh senior netball coach and University of South Wales (USW) Senior Lecturer as well as Jayne Ludlow, the former Wales Women’s football manager, Manchester City coach and current Head of Sport at USW.

The Cymoedd Black first team is currently in first place in the AOC Wales Netball league, with just two games left to play, including a triangular fixture against Crosskeys and Neath on the 10th of April.

Guaranteed to finish no lower than third, Cymoedd Greens is hoping to take home the second spot in the league as the season is set to end next week with a game against Coleg Sir Gâr.

Ahead of the game between Cymoedd Black and Trinity House, Cymoedd Green took on a team of new recruits who’ll make up Coleg y Cymoedd’s Female Academy teams next season. The Female Academy, which is run in partnership with the University of South Wales and provides both netball and rugby programmes, offers learners aged 16 to 18 practical and theory-based teaching and training from leading strength and conditioning experts as well as experienced coaches. These include former Welsh rugby union player, Gareth Wyatt, and former Wales rugby and netball international Lowri Noket-Morgan.

Speaking about the South African friendly, former Welsh senior netball coach Mel Tuckwell said – “It’s been great to catch a glimpse of the future of Welsh netball today at Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw. The experience has enabled me to not only see the best college team in Wales go up against South Africa’s best, but also witness next year’s Academy recruits going up against the also very successful Cymoedd Greens. You can see how the Academy offering and the facilities here are reaping dividends. The future’s looking very, very bright for netball at Coleg-y-Cymoedd.”

The Coleg y Cymoedd Female Academy is based at Coley y Cymoedd’s newly opened Centre of Sporting Excellence in Nantgarw, a multi-million-pound sports training and teaching facility which opened last year. Designed to improve learners’ abilities in a variety of sports, the centre provides state-of-the-art performance training facilities and academic teaching all on one site.

The Centre primarily houses Sports and Public Services learners along with the college’s high-performance sports academies. Learners undertaking fitness instructor and personal training qualifications also benefit from the facilities.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s People and Culture named ‘Best In-House Team in Wales’ at CIPD Award

The People and Culture team at Coleg y Cymoedd, a leading further education college in South Wales, has been recognised as the best in-house HR team in Wales at the prestigious CIPD Awards 2024.

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the seventh annual CIPD Awards in Wales was held at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, 15th March, and celebrated the achievements and innovations of HR professionals across the country.

Under the leadership of Director of People and Culture Hannah Hallett, the People and Culture team outperformed some of the top organisations in Wales, such as Wales and West Utilities, BBC Cymru Wales and Pobl Group.

They were one of the fourteen outstanding winners who were selected by a panel of expert judges from the HR sector, business, and the media. Hundreds of HR professionals from across the UK joined the ceremony and applauded the excellence and best practices of their peers.

The team demonstrated their ability to adapt and collaborate effectively in supporting the college’s staff and learners during a challenging period marked by budget constraints and a skills gap affecting recruitment across all sectors.

They introduced various measures to improve staff wellbeing, engagement, development, and performance, such as flexible working options, online learning opportunities, mental health support services, and recognition schemes.

Hannah Hallett, Director of People and Culture, said: “We are so pleased to receive this award; it reflects the hard work and dedication of our team and the whole college community.

“We are passionate about creating a positive and supportive work environment where our people can thrive and deliver the best possible outcomes for our learners and are proud of how we continue to come up with innovative ways to support the college’s vision and values.

“I’ve said for two years that I have the best team in Wales, and this proves it!”

Jonathan Morgan, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “This award is a true testament to the team’s hard work and dedication. Coleg y Cymoedd aims to promote a culture where employees can progress and grow into their roles and responsibilities. We hope that we can continue to support our team and continue to create an environment where everyone is recognised and valued.”

Lesley Richards, head of the CIPD in Wales, said: “The CIPD Awards in Wales are always a great opportunity for the excellent, innovative and sometimes life changing work that goes

on across the country to be officially recognised and celebrated. We’re always impressed by the number and the quality of entries, along with the commitment to people development that has been showcased, however we were especially impressed this year as we received a record-breaking number of entries!

“HR and people development directly influences the successful operation of every business and are integral to championing employee progress and retaining talent – which has been particularly challenging in recent years as our sector like many others have dealt with shrinking budgets and difficulties with recruitment. All of our winners, those highly commended and finalists have proven that are excellent examples of the difference that HR and people practices can make.”

Search for current vacancies at Coleg y Cymoedd and work with Wales’ best in-house HR team, here:

From Learner to Leader: Maria Hartill’s Success Story

Meet Maria Hartill, a Coleg y Cymoedd former learner, a current staff member, successful entrepreneur, and future beauty trainer.

Maria has a remarkable journey of learning, working, and leading in the beauty industry, and has shared her Coleg y Cymoedd journey with us this Women’s History Month.

When did your journey with Coleg y Cymoedd begin?

I started my journey with Coleg y Cymoedd 17 years ago, when I joined the Level 2 Beauty Therapy course at the former Coleg Morgannwg. I was drawn to the college by its welcoming, community atmosphere, and the enthusiasm and knowledge of the tutors. Since then, I’ve completed Level 3 Beauty, Reflexology Practitioner, and I’m now working towards becoming a teacher.

My learner experience was really empowering – I received the guidance and encouragement I needed to grow and achieve my goal of running my own beauty business.

A memorable moment for me was coming third place at the WorldSkills competition in Advanced Beauty Therapy, where we were tested in skills such as Faradic, Microdermabrasion and Swedish Massage.

This boosted my confidence to pursue my dream of owning my own beauty salon, and I admire how the college continues to offer these opportunities to young people, giving them the same priceless experiences.

Your dream came true! Tell us more about where you are now.

I have achieved my dream of opening my own beauty salon, Opulent Tranquillity Beauty by Maria, where I can pamper my loyal customers with a variety of treatments and products. I also work part-time as Learner and Campus Services Assistant at the Nantgarw campus, where I assist the Director of Campus and Head of Learner and Campus Services in providing a supportive and engaging environment for the students.

You truly are part of the Coleg y Cymoedd family, then! What do you love about it so much?

Being part of the Coleg y Cymoedd family is a joy for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to return and enhance my skills. The college shows its commitment to excellence by providing the most advanced tools and equipment for the learners, who can benefit from learning the latest trends and techniques in the beauty industry.

And you’re not done with learning and growing with us?

I have a vision of opening an add-on Training Academy, where I can share what I’ve learned and experienced with aspiring beauty therapists. I’m studying a PCeT (Professional Certificate in Education and Training) through Coleg y Cymoedd, and as part of that, I’m delivering sessions to Entry Level 3 Hair & Beauty Learners alongside my former tutors.

It’s been such a privilege to work with them. They’ve been with me through my whole journey and now they’re helping me mentor the next generation of beauty professionals and inspire them to follow their dreams, the same way that they did for me.

Maria is a shining example of how Coleg y Cymoedd can help learners achieve their goals and become leaders in their fields. We are proud of Maria and wish her all the best in her future endeavours. She’s a woman making history, and helping other women feel and achieve their best along the way!

Maria shows how education at Coleg y Cymoedd can transform lives, where learners get to follow their dreams and succeed in their jobs. We are lucky to have Maria with us and we hope she keeps growing and inspiring. She’s not just a pioneer in her field, but also a role model for women who want to reach their goals and support others to do the same.

Maria has been shortlisted for the Best Customer Experience award at the Welsh Hair and Beauty Awards 2024, following her second place Highly Commended recognition in the People’s Choice Award category last year. This is an amazing achievement for a salon that is run by one person, and it demonstrates Maria’s passion and skill. You can show your support for Maria by voting for Opulent Tranquillity Beauty by Maria, and the details are provided below. The deadline for voting is 1st May 2024:

People Awards 2024: Coleg y Cymoedd honours its staff for excellence and dedication

One of the highlights of the year at Coleg y Cymoedd is the People Awards, a special event that celebrates the achievements and contributions of its staff members. The awards honour the hard work and dedication of the team that makes the college a leading provider of education and training in the region.

This year’s ceremony took place on Monday, 18th March, at the Nantgarw campus, where the winners were announced and congratulated by their colleagues and managers. The attendees enjoyed live entertainment, inspiring speeches, and messages of appreciation from the college’s senior leadership team and board of governors.

The occasion was also an opportunity to mark a significant milestone in the college’s history: the tenth anniversary of the merger between College Ystrad Mynach and Coleg Morgannwg, which created Coleg y Cymoedd in 2013. Since then, the college has gone from strength to strength and has become a centre of excellence for vocational and academic learning.

One of the highlights of this year’s ceremony was the introduction of a new award category to commemorate the anniversary. The Greatest Journey Award (10th Anniversary) recognised a staff member who had overcome significant challenges and achieved remarkable success in their career at Coleg y Cymoedd. The winner was Kelly Morgan.

Kelly started off as a Learning Support Assistant and has recently been appointed Deputy Head of Additional Learning Provision. Throughout her time at the college Kelly has been kind, compassionate and supportive of those she works with and is a credit to the Learning Support team.

The college’s principal, Jonathan Morgan, honoured the outstanding achievements of his colleagues by handing out a further 16 People Awards. He commended them for their exceptional teaching and innovation skills, which had enabled them to transform the lives of learners across South Wales and prepare them for successful futures.

Coleg y Cymoedd would like to extend their congratulations to them, and to thank all 850 of their employees for their continuing hard work and dedication.

The winners of the People Awards 2024 are:

Best Newcomer Award – Moira Hale

This award seeks to acknowledge and celebrate a new colleague who has joined Coleg y Cymoedd since September 2022. The nominee will have already demonstrated a commitment to the college and have had a positive impact on their area.

Moira joined us in September 2022 in a newly created Pastoral Coach role within the School of Catering. Moira has had a phenomenal impact since joining the college, making it her mission to expand her knowledge of college processes and supporting learners to achieve successful outcomes. Moira works across all four campuses and commits every day to make sure the learners are succeeding. Moira is described as passionate, someone who can turn her hand to anything and an asset to the college.

Digital Innovation of the Year Award – Stephen Hunt

This award recognises individuals or teams that have delivered a major digital project or implemented new digital technology within their area. This category is open to all employees, but the project must be a digital or technology-related task that has impacted on the wider college. This can be a bespoke internal system that the college now relies on, an efficiency driven project, or learner focused introduction that has seen incredible results.

During Stephen’s time at the college so far, he has supported the School of Computing in gathering digital and other resources which are used all the time by the team and made incredible inroads into new areas such as eSports. He’s made strong contacts in the industry such as WRU, Alpine F1 team and Williams Motorsports and built a credible relationship with local schools to build the profile of Aberdare Campus and the provision there.

Distinguished Employee Award – Paul Lavanga

This award will recognise an individual colleague who demonstrates long-term outstanding performance and achievement in a Business Support or Academic Area showing initiative, innovation, or commitment.

Paul has been at the college for almost 30 years and is highly respected amongst his close colleagues and the wider college. Paul is described as a high energy, enthusiastic Lecturer in the School of Creative, who has shown loyalty and commitment to both his learners and the college over the last three decades. Paul’s unwavering commitment and reputation led to his nomination in this year’s People Awards.

Distinguished Employee Award – Carl Elliott

This award will recognise an individual colleague who demonstrates long-term outstanding performance and achievement in a Business Support or Academic Area showing initiative, innovation or commitment.

Carl has worked for the college for 25 years and is credited as being a Lecturer with excellent pastoral care and high expectations for his learners. For the last two academic years in a row, Carl has supported and challenged learners to such an excellent standard that they’ve achieved 100% completion on a 30 hour-a-week enhanced engineering programme, building the reputation and success of both our Rhondda Campus and the School of Engineering.

Greatest Journey Award (10th Anniversary) – Kelly Morgan

This award recognises a colleague who has made a significant and positive contribution to the college in the last ten years since Coleg y Cymoedd was formed. The winner will be someone with an inspiring story.

During Kelly’s time at the college (16 years) she has grown and progressed significantly. Kelly started off as a Learning Support Assistant, and has recently been appointed Deputy Head of Additional Learning Provision. Kelly is described as an extremely hard worker who has built a positive and happy working environment, her passion has inspired those who work with her. Throughout her time at the college Kelly has been kind, compassionate and supportive of those she works with and is a credit to the Learning Support team.

Gwobr Gymraeg/Welsh Award – Rhys Ruggiero

This award will recognise an individual or team who have not only promoted bilingualism but sought to foster a bilingual ethos where the Welsh language and bilingualism is incorporated into core values. Such activity may include investing in and supporting the capacity of staff to deliver Welsh medium/bilingual learning, curriculum initiatives that extend the opportunities for Welsh-medium/bilingual study or strategic planning for the development of a Welsh ethos. In addition, nominations are invited where someone is able to demonstrate the effective embedding of a Welsh dimension into the college’s curriculum and daily life or provide innovative and successful ways of encouraging Welsh medium study.

Rhys is this year’s winner for the Gwobr y Gymraeg/Welsh Award, he was nominated for promoting Welsh Language and culture, chasing collaboration, embracing technology for innovation, providing support, and advocating for bilingual curricula. Rhys’ passion and commitment has been particularly admirable and has made him a worthy winner.

Inclusivity Award – Llinos Morgan

This award is for an individual or team who have demonstrated outstanding inclusivity within the college. The nominees will have made an impact, inspired others and contributed to the college’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Llinos joined the college in August 2023, and has already had an impact in the college’s drive towards a fully inclusive culture. Llinos has recently supported ESOL learners with a coffee morning, going above and beyond her role in Learner and Campus Services. Llinos is also a member of the college’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, where she adds valuable contribution.

Inspiring Learners Award – Lee Perry

This award is for a person who is recognised by learners as demonstrating exceptional qualities as a Lecturer or member of the non-teaching staff. The nominee will have inspired and motivated learners with their enthusiasm, understanding and friendly manner to enable them to achieve their aspirational goals.

Lee has worked at Coleg y Cymoedd for more than 15 years, he’s won the Inspiring Learners Award this year for his incredible work in the Skills competitions. Lee is a Lecturer in the School of Construction and has encouraged many learners over the past ten years to participate in competitions (which has benefited the learners themselves and the wider college). One of the learners Lee has supported has gone on to represent the UK in the World Skills Competition.

Outstanding Leader Award (Academic) – Simon Jenkins

This award recognises an excellent leader with a proven record of working with their team to achieve outstanding results within their area of responsibility. The nominee should have strong leadership skills and be able to demonstrate a commitment to, and be proactive in, delivering continuous improvement. Key attributes should also include a forward-thinking approach to customer focus and service delivery, visibility, and being responsive to their team. They should be able to inspire, motivate and engage others, treating everyone with fairness and consistency.

Simon has worked tirelessly in recent years to improve the culture and the outcomes of the schools he leads. Simon has been nominated for the way he builds relationships, role models positive behaviours and his professionalism. His approach and influence have been key in standardising the delivery across campuses and ensuring all learners have positive learning experiences here at the college. Simon has been at the college for twenty years, having started as a Learning Support Assistant in 2004, he is now Head of School for the School of Health and Social Care and the School of Care.

Outstanding Leader Award (Business Support) – Rebecca Vaughan

This award recognises an excellent leader with a proven record of working with their team to achieve outstanding results within their area of responsibility. The nominee should have strong leadership skills and be able to demonstrate a commitment to, and be proactive in, delivering continuous improvement. Key attributes should also include a forward-thinking approach to customer focus and service delivery, visibility, and being responsive to their team. They should be able to inspire, motivate and engage others, treating everyone with fairness and consistency.

Rebecca was nominated several times for this award, for leading by example and stepping in to support her team wherever she can, she’s described as a kind and thoughtful leader who genuinely cares about her team. Her team say she goes above and beyond every day. The ULP team has seen a

lot of change within the last year, and they credit Rebecca’s leadership for keeping them motivated and happy at work. Rebecca has been at the college for more than 15 years and is currently a ULP Team Leader.

Service Excellence Award – Victoria Williams

This award will celebrate a colleague or team who have demonstrated their extraordinary commitment to continuously providing excellent service. They will have made a significant impact on learners, colleagues and areas of the college. They will have demonstrated open communication and innovative ways of doing things as well as actively promoting a culture within the college which meets the needs of individuals, treating all service users well and seeking continuous improvement.

Victoria has been at the college for 18 years, having started as HR Administrative Assistant she’s now People and Culture Manager. Victoria was nominated for her support of the Learning Support department, who described her unwavering dedication to creating a positive and inclusive work environment which has contributed to the performance and success of the Learning Support team. The team say she’s responsive and knowledgeable, always going the extra mile.

Supporting Learner Wellbeing Award – Carolyn Owen

This award recognises a team or School who has demonstrated exceptional effort in supporting the pastoral care of learners. This award is for those who have gone above and beyond their duties to make a real difference to the learners’ lives during their time in the college.

Carolyn is a Wellbeing Officer and has been at the college for two years, she was nominated more than once for this award. Carolyn was described as a fundamental part of ensuring learners on the Rhondda campus received support which is proactive and compassionate. Carolyn is calm, kind and understanding, always looking for opportunities to develop connections that will help our learners.

Supporting Learner Wellbeing Award – Paul Sutton

This award recognises a team or School who has demonstrated exceptional effort in supporting the pastoral care of learners. This award is for those who have gone above and beyond their duties to make a real difference to the learners’ lives during their time in the college.

Paul has also been at the college for two years. He’s described as continually doing whatever he can for each learner he works with. His dedication to making a difference to individual learners is described as second to none and his nominators said it’s an honour to work with him. The role of Wellbeing Officer can be extremely difficult at times, given what they deal with, Paul is described as undertaking this role with a smile on his face and a positive attitude.

Teaching and Learning Award – David Hills

This award will recognise a colleague who creates a climate for teaching and learning in the classroom which is characterised by enthusiasm for learning, high expectations, and outstanding results. They will show a commitment to teach every learner, including challenging learners, to aim high and support them in pursuit of their aspirations. They will actively monitor the experience and progress of each class and adjust their approach to take account of the needs of individual learners and the class. They will engage others in supporting learners’ learning and development, including colleagues, parents, learning support and other professionals. They will show a continuing commitment to their own professional personal development.

David has been at the college for 13 years, he’s currently both a Lecturer and a Teaching and Learning Coach. David has been nominated for always making time to mentor, guide and support those he works with, being at the forefront of digital development and pushing boundaries to constantly improve teaching and learning. David contributes his valuable insight to many working groups across the college which have had a significant impact on practice.

Team Achievement Award (Academic) – Nathan Thomas, Liam Richards and Alistair Aston

This award will commend a team whose efforts and achievements have made an outstanding contribution to the college and its various partners, be that colleagues, learners or other stakeholder.

This specially created team (Nathan and Liam are Apprentice Lecturers in the School of Engineering, Alistair is a Lecturer in the School of Creative). The team created the amazing 65th Celebratory Nos Galan Torch for Rhondda Cynon Taff Council. The team worked together, using cutting edge technology to design and create a torch for the mystery runners of the Nos Galan.

Team Achievement Award (Business Support) – Curriculum and Quality Administrators

This award will commend a team whose efforts and achievements have made an outstanding contribution to the college and its various partners, be that colleagues, learners or other stakeholder.

The Curriculum and Quality Administrators have recently been brought together as one team, having previously worked within their curriculum areas, and have gone from strength to strength since. They’ve won this award for their clear communication and diligence following significant changes in their roles, and their commitment to working together to improve quality across the college.

Principal’s Award – Alun Skym

The principal award this year acknowledges an individual who has shown exceptional leadership, dedication, and contributions to the college community. This recognition celebrates their remarkable achievements, innovation, and commitment to excellence in their role. The recipient has exemplified high standards of professionalism, collaboration, and service, serving as a role model and creating significant positive impacts within the college environment.

Archie has dedicated over 35 years to the college, overseeing Technicians in the Schools of Construction and Engineering. Throughout his tenure, Archie has consistently demonstrated a commitment to developing and mentoring his team, working across all four campuses and multiple trades and disciplines. Within this time, Archie has overseen significant change and managed the team effectively throughout, bringing people together and leading with kindness.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees of the People Awards 2024!

The college also thanked its sponsors, partners, and stakeholders for their continued support and collaboration, and expressed its hope and optimism for the future of further education in Wales.

Success for Coleg y Cymoedd learners at Skills Competition Wales Awards 2024

Learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have taken part in the 2024 Skills Competition Wales against hundreds of others across the country. This year, 105 learners showed their skill, capability, and understanding, to reach an outstanding combined total of 22 medals, 10 of which were gold.

Skills Competition Wales gives learners, trainees, and apprentices an opportunity to test, compare, and improve their skills by competing in various sectors.

A series of skills competitions at local level, Skills Competition Wales is supported by the Welsh Government and delivered by a committed network of colleges, work-based learning providers and employer-led organisations. It aligns to WorldSkills and the demands of the Welsh economy.

Before the ceremony, the eager contestants expressed their feelings on potentially winning a medal:

Luke Evans, Level 3 Plumbing Apprentice, said: “It would be a great achievement to win a medal, and something I’d be proud of, for the opportunity to showcase my skills.” – Gold medallist in the Plumbing and Heating competition.

Scott Roberts, added: “I would feel absolutely ecstatic to receive a medal, but most importantly I would feel grateful to those who have helped me along the way: my friends, family and my Level 3 Diploma in System Support Computer Maintenance tutor, Phil Gorman, especially.” – Silver medallist in Cyber Security.

Creative Media learner, Jacob Barnett, said: “I would feel very happy to receive a medal; it would convince and motivate me to go further in this career!” – Inclusive Skills: Media Gold medallist.

Admissions and Futures Manager at Coleg y Cymoedd, Janet Edwards, commented on the learners’ success: “We’re so proud of all our learners who competed this year. The standards were incredibly high, with the most entries Skills Competition Wales had ever seen, yet our learners still managed to come away with a huge total of medals.

“Everyone who took part, from the learners to the tutors and support staff who helped facilitate competitions and training are to thank for this incredible achievement.

“Competing in skills competitions is a great way to enhance your technical skills and the key employability skills that are required for competition, such as working under pressure, time management, planning and problem solving. Of course, these are practiced with tutors before the competition date.

“Skills Competition Wales helps learners to develop their confidence, gain useful experience, learn from professionals in their fields, and ultimately increase their employability after college and advance in their future careers.”

Celebrating Skills Competition Wales 2024 medallists from Coleg y Cymoedd

Congratulations to the 22 Coleg y Cymoedd learners who brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals, and well done to everyone who took part this year:


  1. Jacob Barnett – Inclusive Skills: Media
  2. Rhonda Brennan – Photography
  3. Marley Lake – Inclusive Skills: Media
  4. Jazmin Lloyd – Inclusive Skills: Media
  5. Georgia Price – Manufacturing Team Challenge
  6. Ellis Richards – Manufacturing Team Challenge
  7. Oliver Hellard – Web Development
  8. Luke Smith – Inclusive Skills: Woodwork
  9. Ashley Rowland – Inclusive Skills: Fitness Assistant
  10. Luke Evans – Plumbing and Heating


  1. Bradley Greenway – Customer Service
  2. Calin Jones – Inclusive Skills: Media
  3. Joshua Cole – Plumbing and Heating
  4. Connor Davies – Cyber Security
  5. Scott Roberts – Cyber Security


  1. Marcus Walters – Digital Media Production
  2. Rhydian Wood – Digital Media Production
  3. Ray Munro – Inclusive Skills: Media
  4. Evan Davies – Popular Music
  5. Toby King – Popular Music
  6. Connor Pullman – Popular Music
  7. Sam Veale – Popular Music

Apply now for Coleg y Cymoedd courses starting this September.

Young Carer turns life around thanks to second chance with valleys college

A young carer who spent her teen years in and out of educationbefore getting a second chance thanks to the support of a Welsh college is looking forward to starting afresh and is urging other young people with caring duties to reach out for the help they need to succeed.

19-year-old JayLee Maylin Coles from Blackwood grew up caring for her four younger siblings and struggled to balance her studies with her caring role and general life as a young person, leading to a tumultuous relationship with education.

Spending most of her teenage years moving around different schools and colleges, JayLee realised something needed to change if she wanted to forge a successful career for herself in the future.

With dreams of one day running her own businesses and believing university would be an integral part of her entrepreneurial journey, the aspiring entrepreneur has decided to turn things around after being given another opportunity to succeed by studying at Coleg y Cymoedd.

After signing up for the college’s Business course at its Ystrad Mynach campus in September 2023, Jaylee was immediately put in contact with the college’s Wellbeing Officer and Carers Lead, Laura Wilson, who worked directly with JayLee to assist her return.

Over the past six months, Laura has helped JayLee develop a more flexible working pattern that supports both her education and role caring for her siblings – support that has transformed JayLee’s behaviour and approach to education.

Such is her commitment to her studies; JayLee has since been appointed as a Learner Ambassador and wellbeing advocate for Coleg y Cymoedd. The role has seen her host talks at the Nantgarw campus as well as attend numerous open days and events to meet with and guide other young carers who are considering college and face similar barriers to those JayLee has overcome.

Looking ahead, JayLee is now determined to go to university to study business or law and has been introduced by Laura to the college’s ‘Reaching Wider Project’, an online support programme run with Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales, designed to help young carers and underrepresented individuals bolster their applications and secure places at Welsh Universities.

JayLee said: “I have come a long way and my accomplishments over the past seven months just go to show what can happen when you have the right support networks around you. I am incredibly grateful to Coleg y Cymoedd and the Wellbeing Team who have extended a helping hand to me and shown compassion and understanding – something I really needed. I now want to pass that kindness onwards and support others.

“I didn’t choose to become a young carer, but complications in my family life meant I was leant on for support. I tried my best to help look after my siblings, especially my youngest brother, by cooking food, packing lunches and ensuring clothes were clean. I had a lot of responsibility to deal with at home and it made me push back in other areas of my life, including education.

“I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t asked for help. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to make sure other carers know what support systems are available to them, so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.”

Alongside her role as a Learner Ambassador, JayLee has become an integral part of the college’s Wellbeing Team, accompanying staff to talks and events at other campuses, offering a valuable insight into the wellbeing, safety, and support systems available at Coleg y Cymoedd. JayLee is also in talks to launch a Coleg y Cymoedd student podcast that she hopes to use to make topics like wellbeing more accessible within the community.

Laura Wilson, Wellbeing Officer and Carers Lead at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “The moment I met JayLee, I knew that she was an incredibly influential yet misunderstood person. We have seen a dramatic change in Jaylee’s behaviour since her return to college and it has been a joy to watch her surpass her own expectations and witness her positive nature rub off on the learners she supports. JayLee’s story is testament to how the right support can catapult an individual into success.”

Discover Wellbeing support at Coleg y Cymoedd:

Coleg y Cymoedd Celebrates International Women’s Day 2024

Inspire Inclusion: Stories from our staff, learners and alumni 

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Each year, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and highlights the work that still needs to be done. 

In 2024, the campaign theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society. It calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. Inspire Inclusion encourages everyone to recognise the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalised communities. 

Coleg y Cymoedd are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 by sharing truly inspirational stories from our female staff, learners and alumni. They showcase the achievements, challenges, and aspirations of women who have studied or worked at our college and highlight how important it is that we continue to promote inclusion, diversity, and empowerment for women in education and beyond. 

Supporting women and girls into STEM 

Coleg y Cymoedd alumni – Mechanical Technician in the Beam Instrumentation group at CERN 

“As an Apprentice Laboratory Technician for Coleg y Cymoedd, I gained practical skills and learned how vital technicians are for STEM.  

A student trip to CERN inspired me to apply for a Technician Training Experience there, which opened up amazing opportunities for me in vacuum science and mass spectrometry.  

I travelled to Bern, New Zealand, and Australia, and saw the cutting-edge research happening in these fields. 

I want to encourage girls and women to pursue STEM careers and show them that nothing is impossible.  

Thank you, Coleg y Cymoedd, especially the Science Department, for your support and inspiration. Please keep finding more chances for people to explore STEM!” 

Developing female talent 

Coleg y Cymoedd staff member, learner, and beauty entrepreneur 

 “I have always loved learning and teaching, and I have been fortunate to have mentors who encouraged me to pursue my passions in the beauty sector. 

Sara Quick and Nicola Davies, my tutors for Level 2 and 3 Beauty Therapy courses at Coleg y Cymoedd stand out to me as they helped me launch my own home-based beauty salon and inspired me to share my skills and knowledge with others. 

It was from this that I enrolled on Coleg y Cymoedd’s PcET to become a teacher, and was able to access the same, great support from my mentors, Nicola and Cath Richards as I learned ways to engage learners and help them stay focused on their education.  

The highlight for me was working with Entry Level 3 students in the final year of my course – I got to see that I could make a difference in their lives, the same way that my tutors made a difference in mine. 

My passion for beauty and teaching led me to start my own Training Academy, where I hope to empower and inspire students to achieve their goals and dreams in the industry. I want to be a positive role model and a source of support for them, just like my mentors were for me.” 

Providing women and girls with access to quality education and training 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner studying an Account and Finance Degree Apprenticeship with Welsh Water 

“After achieving A*AB in my A Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd, I was successful in securing a degree apprenticeship at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. This means I am studying a part-time Accounting and Finance Degree at the University of South Wales, fully funded by Welsh Water, whilst earning and working in a professional environment as a Finance Trainee. 

I found out about the scheme from my college tutor, Holly Richards. She encouraged me to apply and supported me with my application. Holly reminded me that if I work hard enough, I could achieve anything. This led me to where I am today. 

Through both college and my time in Welsh Water I have had a mentor. I believe they can really help women and girls feel more supported in the workplace. My mentors have certainly helped me develop my skills and explored my curiosity. I would recommend mentorship to any female trying to navigate work or study and also remind them of the importance of selfcare to destress and protect your wellbeing. 

I find myself enjoying my journey much more when I share my experiences with my friends and family, and when I take a break for myself. This has helped me stay productive and on track with my university work.” 

Supporting the advancement of women and girls through mentoring 

A Level lecturer and MAT and Mentoring Programme Coordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd 

“As a coordinator of Coleg y Cymoedd’s Mentoring Programme, I have the privilege of helping young women achieve their education and career goals.  

The programme is designed to support and empower female, trans and non-binary identifying learners who aspire to succeed in various fields.  

We match each learner with a mentor who has relevant experience and skills in their chosen sector, such as law, psychology, media, and medicine.  

The mentors are highly respected and accomplished women who generously share their time and wisdom with our learners. They offer guidance, contacts, work placements, and support with CVs, university applications, interviews, confidence, and presentation skills.  

The programme aims to create a supportive and nurturing environment where young women can flourish and enhance their skills. I am proud to be part of this initiative that empowers young women to thrive and become future leaders in Wales and beyond.” 

Supporting women and girls into business 

Coleg y Cymoedd learner and Freelance Make-Up Artist and Face Painter 

“I was clueless when I first started out with make-up, but always shared my work on social media and started to gain a small following. These followers have turned into supporters, and in some instances, friends. It’s important for women to lift other women up. These followers have encouraged me at times when I doubted myself. 

Alongside college, I started my own business, and the two have complemented each other really well. I am currently studying TV and Film Hair and Make-Up (BA Hons) at Coleg y Cymoedd, after completing their Level 3 TV & Film Hair, Make-Up, and Special Effects course last year.  

What I love most is being taught by someone who has worked in the media industry. My tutor, Victoria, is so talented. Anyone who is serious about becoming a make-up artist needs to do this course. 

I would say to girls wanting to start a business today: find a passion, get good at it, and stick to it even when things don’t go to plan. Everything will fall into place. You’ll never feel like you’re working, and life will become much more enjoyable!” 

Promoting creative and artistic talent of women and girls 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner and Italia Conti graduate 

“Never did I need more of an empowering female role model to look up to than when I was 16 and just starting college.  

I hadn’t met anyone influential within the industry I was about to pursue that could guide me in the right direction or train me to be my best, until I met my [Performing Arts] tutors Jaye and Jo.  

Having two strong, encouraging, supportive and successful women train me every day was a privilege. I am really needed it at that age.  

Being shown that it is ok to be unapologetically yourself as a young woman was so inspiring and really encouraged my personal growth.  

I continue to look up to these women as I navigate adulthood and my career; their continued support has opened so many doors for me and I am lucky to have these amazing ladies in my life.” 

Developing systems that meet the needs of women and girls 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner and winner of Agored Cymru Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year awards 

“Never did I think that I would be in year two of a nursing degree aged 37. I had no GCSEs when I first joined Coleg y Cymoedd in September 2020 and was battling with my health due to breast cancer.  

They offered me flexible learning, allowing me to catch up on my lessons online and worked my assignment deadlines around my hospital appointments and caring role. Now I am thriving in university and will be a registered nurse next year. 

I’d like to say to other women and girls:  ‘Look up at that glass ceiling that you think you cannot break through and smile to yourself as you smash straight through it’!” 

Happy International Women’s Day from Coleg y Cymoedd. 

Coleg y Cymoedd celebrates International Women’s Day 2024 with Gender Pay Gap Report

A message from Coleg y Cymoedd’s People and Culture

We are proud to share our progress and commitment to gender equality and diversity in our workplace

On March 8, 2024, we join the global community in celebrating International Women’s Day, a day to honour the achievements and contributions of women in all spheres of life.

As a leading provider of further and higher education in Wales, we are committed to creating a culture of inclusion and opportunity for all our staff and learners, regardless of their gender identity, background, or circumstances.

That is why we are pleased to announce that we have published our Gender Pay Gap Report 2024, which shows the difference in the average pay between men and women across our organisation. The report also outlines some actions we have taken and initiatives we have implemented to address the gap and promote gender equality and diversity in our workplace.

Some of the highlights of our report include:

  • We are proud that we have reduced our mean gender pay gap to 6.8%, which is significantly lower than the UK average of 13.2% and the Education Industry average of 14.6%. We recognise that there is still room for improvement, and we are working hard to close the gap entirely.
  • We have a negative disability pay gap. Our mean disability pay gap is -3.5% and our median disability pay gap is 0.0%.
  • We also have a negative ethnicity pay gap. Our mean ethnicity pay gap is -6.7% and our median ethnicity pay gap is -18.9%. This means our colleagues from ethnically diverse backgrounds earn more on average than those from white backgrounds. We recognise the positive value of diversity and actively promote equality.
  • We have introduced a range of policies and practices to support our staff with flexible working, parental leave, career development and wellbeing.
  • We have launched our Menopause Network, that provides information, support and builds a community for our colleagues experiencing, or who are impacted by menopause.
  • We have partnered with external organisations and experts to deliver training, workshops, and events on topics such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, inclusive leadership, and allyship.

We are proud of the progress we have made, but we also recognise that there is still more work to do.

We are determined to eliminate the gender pay gap and foster a culture of respect, empowerment, and belonging for all our staff and learners.

We believe that by doing so, we can enhance our performance, innovation, and reputation as a leading educational institution in Wales.

We invite you to read our full Gender Pay Gap Report 2024, which is available, here (PDF)

We also welcome your feedback, suggestions, and questions. Please feel free to contact us at or join the conversation on our social media channels using the hashtag #IWD2024.

Mum of two who returned to college to restart her career and support her children celebrates uni spot to become a mental health nurse

A mother of two from Trethomas who returned to college as a mature learner so that she could retrain as a healthcare professional to better support her children is celebrating getting a spot at university.

Shelbi Mitchell, 28, took the plunge to return to college, joining Coleg y Cymoedd after a ten-year break from education, so that she could pursue her dreams of working in health care and provide a better life for her little ones, Oliver, (6), and Isabelle (2).

She is now looking forward to studying a degree in mental health nursing at the University of South Wales and hopes to inspire more young mothers to follow their career ambitions and let them know there are options to support them to do so.

The aspiring nurse had always wanted to work in healthcare, inspired by her mother’s own career in mental health nursing, but didn’t think it would be possible after such a long break from education and without the right qualifications, having worked in various hospitality roles since she originally left sixth form with no qualifications. Shelbi was also nervous to leave her daughter in pursuit of a new job and so decided to put ideas of a career change to the back of her mind.

That was until, one day, Shelbi got talking to one of the other mothers at her son’s school, finding out that she had studied a Level 2 Access course at Coleg y Cymoedd and that support was available to learners with young children to enable them to study.

Finally feeling like she might be able to start the journey towards her dream career, Shelbi took a leap of faith and successfully applied for the Level 2 Diploma in further Skills course at Coleg y Cymoedd – which is designed to help those with no qualifications gain equivalent academic skills to provide further education and job opportunities.    

Having spent more than 10 years working as a waitress in local pubs in the Caerphilly area, Shelbi was worried she would find it hard to adjust to her studies and wouldn’t be able to cope with the workload alongside being a mother to her children.

Shelbi said: “It was terrifying joining the course initially. I think I definitely suffered a bit of imposter syndrome and worried that I wasn’t capable of balancing my life as a mother and as a learner in college.

“As a mum, it’s difficult to be selfish and do things for yourself. I was worried about being away from Isabelle while she was so young – I didn’t want to miss out on these precious years of her life, but as soon as I started the course, my fears melted away. The tutors were so supportive and understanding of my situation.”

During her time on the access course at college, Shelbi studied subjects including Maths, Biology, Sociology, Psychology, Communications and Health Studies. She has now moved on to Level 3 Access to Higher Education in Healthcare which will provide her with the equivalent of three A levels on completion.

Supported by staff at the college, Shelbi was inspired to apply for a university degree in the career she’s always dreamed of – mental health nursing.

Shelbi added: “If you had told me two years ago that I would go on to not only apply for university but receive an unconditional offer to study towards my dream career, I probably would’ve laughed. It just goes to show that support and encouragement from others goes along way.

“I’m so grateful to Coleg y Cymoedd and for everything they’ve done for me and my family – even if I hadn’t got an offer to go to university or decided it wasn’t the path for me, this course has opened so many career doors for me and boosted my confidence so much.

“I’m so glad I can be a role model to my two children and show them that you can do anything you put your mind to and always to take those leaps of faith, no matter how scary they seem. Oliver is proud as punch about my university offer, he goes into school with the Coleg y Cymoedd pens and water bottles I come home with and says, ‘this is from a college, and my mum is going to be a nurse!’ Making my children proud and being able to provide for them makes this all the more worth it.”

 Discover Access to Higher Education courses at Coleg y Cymoedd:

Ystrad Mynach Nursery

We need your help. We are proposing to close the Ystrad Mynach Nursery at the end of this academic year. This is a very difficult decision, and we know how much the nursery means to our staff, learners, parents, and the community.

The nursery has provided high-quality childcare for 29 years, predominantly for learners and staff, but also for some local families. It has been a valuable service that has supported many people to access education and training opportunities at Coleg y Cymoedd. However, due to a number of factors, including low demand, high costs and changes in funding, we have had to consider the future viability of the nursery.

We want to hear from you before we make a final decision.

We invite you to join us for a consultation session at our Ystrad Mynach campus on Monday 15th March 2024, where you can share your views and ask any questions you may have.

We have scheduled two time slots for the session:

  • 9.30am to 10.30am for learners and staff
  • 11am to 12.30pm for the local community

If you can’t make it to the session, you can still fill out an online form here

The form will close at 9am on Thursday 8th April.

Your feedback matters to us. We will take it into account before we make a final decision on the nursery.

Thank you for your support and understanding.


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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