One of Wales’ largest and top performing further education colleges, Coleg y Cymoedd, has appointed Jonathan Morgan as its next Principal and Chief Executive.
Mr Morgan, who has served as Coleg y Cymoedd’s Vice Principal and Chief Operating Officer for the past three years, succeeded former Principal, Karen Phillips, who retired in September 2022.
With over 25 years’ experience in education, including 20 at Coleg y Cymoedd (formerly known as College Ystrad Mynach), Mr Morgan has spent the last five years working within strategic leadership roles at the college, where he has overseen a range of curriculum areas alongside finance, people and culture, and digital transformation projects.
Mr Morgan’s tenure as Vice Principal and Chief Operating Officer also included the overseeing of several major infrastructure projects, including the £3.9 million refurbishment of the Rhondda campus in 2021 and the further £8.3 refurbishment of the Ystrad Mynach campus that took place this year.
As Vice Principal and Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan has been credited for the leading role he has played in guiding the college’s response through the COVID-19 pandemic. That unprecedented time saw him manage all communications with external partners, colleagues, and trade unions, in addition to his work developing the curriculum to safeguard access to education during the pandemic.
Prior to entering the education sector, Mr Morgan first had a successful career as a professional footballer for Cardiff City Football Club, boasting over 70 first team appearances in division two, the Football League, FA Cup, League Cup, Welsh Cup, and European Cup Winners Cup. In 1996, Welsh football’s loss became education’s gain, when a recurring injury cut his football career short, forcing him to take early retirement aged just 26.
Thankfully, Jonathan was prepared for that transition. From the age of 22, he played semi-professional football whilst gaining a first-class honors degree in Recreation and Leisure Management, followed by a masters in Sport and Leisure Studies and then a PGCE.
Mr Morgan, who is originally from Cardiff, initially took several sports teaching posts at various colleges around London, before the inevitable desire to return to his home country prompted the move back to Wales in 2002 to join College Ystrad Mynach as Deputy Head of Faculty.
Commenting on his appointment and plans for the college’s future, Jonathan Morgan said: “I’m extremely privileged and excited to be the next principal of Coleg y Cymoedd. My last two decades have already allowed me to play key roles in helping the college go from strength to strength. This included including ensuring that we continued to deliver high quality education during the pandemic – a really tough time across the education sector – which our strong learner results have been testament to.”
Mr Morgan’s vision for Coleg y Cymoedd’s future will see a focus on bringing back more face-to-face teaching for learners, following feedback from staff, learners and employers, while retaining the ability to teach digitally, with the college planning to lend learners over 2,000 laptops to support them in their studies.
Mr Morgan is also committed to improving the college’s sustainability and implementing a digital strategy to guarantee learners leave with the skills sought after by employers.
He added: “The world of work is changing rapidly as a result of technological changes including automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. It’s important to me that our teaching helps learners to enter employment fully equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to succeed in their chosen career path.
“I had an unconventional start to my career, leaving school at 15 to start a football apprenticeship with Cardiff City. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to follow my dreams and play professional football for my hometown club before turning to education so I recognise that every learners starts their academic journey differently. This is why I believe it is essential to allow Welsh learners the chance to find the education and training paths that best suit their needs including apprenticeships and vocational routes.
“For those looking to pursue academic routes, we want to support learners to go on to top universities and I am extremely passionate about tackling social mobility, ensuring learners from more deprived areas have the same opportunities”.
Welcoming Mr Morgan into the role, Ms Phillips, serving Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Jonathan has already played a great part in the college’s strategic direction and I have no doubt that this will continue as he steps into the role of Principal. While I am sad to leave, I do so safe in the knowledge that our college is will continue to thrive under his leadership.”