Coleg y Cymoedd celebrates best ever World Skills Results 

Huge well done to all staff and learners who took part in World Skills competitions.   

Following a recent virtual results ceremony, Coleg y Cymoedd recorded its highest ever performance in World Skills UK competitions, finishing a highly impressive 4th in the medal points table out of all organisations who took part in the UK, and joint second highest for Welsh organisations 

Results 

  • Aircraft Maintenance – Kaleb Szymanski – entered under Caerdav (Coleg y Cymoedd apprenticeship learner) – Result = Highly Commended
  • Manufacturing Team Challenge – Megan Christie, Pawel Abramowicz & Jamie Williams – entered under GE Aviation (Coleg y Cymoedd apprenticeship learners) – Result = Silver
  • Network Systems Administrator – Cole Peters – Result = Gold
  • Network Systems Administrator – Lewis Hart – Result = Silver
  • Network Systems Administrator – Zack Morris – Result = Bronze
  • Plumbing – Ruben Duggan – Result = Gold

The following learners who participated also finished in the top 8 for their category in the UK  

  • Aircraft Maintenance – Bence Kormos, Shaun Bennett & Cameron Forbes – entered under Caerdav (Coleg y Cymoedd apprenticeship learners). 
  • Cyber Security – Matthew Lawrence (studying at USW this ac. year but entered through us) & Jacob Smith. 

Alumni IT Learners  Cyber Security Efan Headford & Xander Appleby, who are now in the University of South Wales Result = Silver

A trip to North Wales for the A-level Crew

Coleg y Cymoedd strives to offer invaluable opportunities to its learners during their time at the College. At the beginning of November, the A Level Welsh Second Language group from Coleg y Cymoedd traveled to the Urdd Centre at Glan-llyn near Bala for a residential A Level Welsh course. The course was organized by the Urdd and the School of Welsh, Bangor University. College students’ places on the trip were paid for by a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol grant to promote the Welsh language as a subject. Two students studying AS Level in Welsh at our A Level Center in Nantgarw went on the two day trip.

There were a number of sessions that were relevant to the syllabus such as a session on discussing poems, the oral exam, the history of the Welsh language and the elements of the language. But it wasn’t all work. There was also the opportunity to take part in amazing outdoor activities such as canoeing, a ropes course and archery. There was also the opportunity to experience a bit of Welsh culture in the evening with a special gig with singer Gwilym Bowen Rhys.

One of the students, Katlyn Evans, said

“I enjoyed how the trip was packed with informational activities that is going to help me massively with learning the language. But not only that, I loved having an insight on what it would be like to be bilingual, as all my life I’ve just spoken English and likewise learnt in English but there I spoke and learnt in Welsh.”

Welsh Language Manager, Lois Roberts added, “Thank you very much to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol for the sponsorship and to the Urdd and Ysgol y Gymraeg, Bangor University for organizing. The trip was a great success. It was a huge eye opener for our students. They had the opportunity to use the language for the first time ever outside of the classroom. As well as learning things that will help to succeed in the course, it also showed that the Welsh language can be something social and fun!”

A chat with Merched y Wawr Merthyr

Coleg y Cymoedd welcomes opportunities to develop links with local communities and links through the medium of Welsh. So the Welsh Language Team jumped at the chance to visit Merched y Wawr Merthyr to talk about the work of the College and to meet the members.

Merched y Wawr is a patriotic organization that offers women the opportunity to socialize in Welsh in clubs across Wales. They also campaign for the rights of the Welsh language and women’s rights. Merched y Wawr was founded in 1967 and now there are over 280 branches and clubs all over Wales. One of those lively clubs is Merched y Wawr Merthyr which meets every month at Canolfan Soar which is the town’s Welsh Language Centre.

On 9 November, Lois Roberts, Coleg y Cymoedd’s Welsh Language Manager, visited the group. After a short presentation over a cup of tea discussing her work at the College, giving information about the college and the opportunities available to people of all ages, in Welsh and English, she proceeded to hold an epic quiz with the crew .

As a way of thanking the College, Hannah Lowe, the branch’s treasurer, presented Lois with a cheque for £25 as a donation. The money will be given to a charity that the College has worked closely with recently, ‘The Wild and Free Foundation. The aim of the charity is to empower communities living around the national parks and wildlife reserves in Africa, by creating sporting and economic opportunities, to reduce their dependence on rhino poaching and African wildlife. The College’s School of Creative Industries collaborated with the charity to create a giant rhino as a mascot to encourage young men to turn to football rather than poaching. This money will go towards funding the amazing work they do.

Lois Roberts said, “We had lots of fun trying to guess the name of the town while looking at pictures of high streets, thinking of answers starting with ‘m’ and guessing how many times Americans open a fridge in an average day! ! The winners were ‘Tîm Tydful’ but I hope everyone left with a big smile on their faces. Thank you Merched y Wawr Merthyr!”

Coleg y Cymoedd coach heads to Qatar for the World Cup with the BBC

Coleg y Cymoedd’s very own female football academy coach, Kathryn Morgan, is in Qatar this month to commentate on the Welsh games at this year’s FIFA World Cup alongside the BBC.

Kathryn Morgan, who had a successful career as a professional female footballer before joining the college, will be working for BBC Radio Cymru and Radio Wales as part of the broadcaster’s coverage of the Welsh matches this November.

She will join the likes of Nathan Blake, Iwan Roberts, Danny Gabbidon and Neil Taylor in Qatar for three weeks during Wales’ first qualifying matches – the country’s first appearance in the World Cup since 1958 – delivering news bulletins and leading a Q&A podcast with the Football Association of Wales (FAW).

A former international player, Kathryn represented several teams during her 15-year footballing career including Inter Cardiff (now Cardiff City), Barry Town, Bristol Rovers, and the Welsh national women’s team, becoming the first female footballer in Wales to secure 50 caps.

After attending the 2016 World Cup in France, she was invited by BBC Radio Cymru to join the channel as a pundit, offering commentary on the competition. Since then, she has commentated on several national games and worked with BBC Radio Wales on several occasions, before being approached to join the team in Qatar.

Kathryn said: “I was on holiday when I received a phone call from the BBC asking me if I was free in November. They told me to write ‘in Qatar’ in my diary and I just couldn’t believe it. I never thought something like this would happen to me and I’m still pinching myself that I’m even going – excited isn’t even the word!”

From a young age, Kathryn was determined to play football and at seven years old, she persuaded boys in the playground to let her join them after watching and practising their techniques. Her passion became a profession when she joined Inter Cardiff Women’s team at 17, kickstarting her career.

“I had a late start playing club football, mainly because I was a girl and it wasn’t as easy to play to the standard it is now ,” Kathryn said, “but I remember seeing an advertisement in the first ever issue of Wales on Sunday, calling out players for the Inter Cardiff Wales women’s team, now Cardiff City Women’s, and I knew I had to go for it.”

Following her stint as a footballer, Kathryn moved into education and taught at Ysgol y Cymer, Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni and Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg as a PE teacher for a sum of 20 years before taking her professional experience to the then brand-new women’s football academy at Coleg y Cymoedd as a coach in 2018. At the college, she is responsible for carrying out field and gym coaching for the female team, alongside teaching practical analysis.  

She added: “I have lived and breathed football for as long as I can remember and always wanted a career within it, despite growing up at a time when it wasn’t easy to be a woman and a footballer. I love teaching, I am happy to invest all my time into those that want to learn, have a good attitude, and want to be coached.

“I could only have dreamed of being part of a women’s football academy when I was a teenager, and the fact that I am now able to provide that coaching and mentorship myself, with everything I have learnt over the years, to the next generation feels so full circle. It’s incredible to see how much things have progressed for women’s football. “I’m grateful for where my career has taken me and the experiences, like Qatar, that I get to be part of everyday.”

Coleg y Cymoedd learners compete in climate change debate

Learners at Coleg y Cymoedd have played their part in tackling the climate emergency after coming together with tens of young people from across Wales to take part in a national conference aimed at exploring global environmental issues.

Six learners from the college took part in this year’s Mock Cop climate conference, joining learners from over schools and colleges from across the country to take part in the Welsh event at the national assembly in Cardiff.

Run jointly by Size of Wales and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA), MockCOP, which is modelled on the UN Climate Change COP talks, brings together young people aged 14-18 with scientists, economists and business leaders to discuss and debate climate change issues.

Learners are split into teams, each representing a different country from around the world, which they must research before presenting the environmental challenges they face as well as their proposed solutions to tackle them.

Liberty Lee, Meadow Jackson, Matthew MacPhail, Seth Olner, Taya Hodges and Lilia Simonov, who are all part of Coleg y Cymoedd’s debating society, attended the event on behalf of Coleg y Cymoedd, with the learners split across two teams representing Canada and the Phillipines.

As with the real conference, teams had to put forward proposals and negotiate with other countries to achieve the ultimate goal of getting them to commit to their pledges and sign a treaty.

The interactive event is designed to improve learners’ knowledge of the UN and its annual climate change talks, as well as enable them to develop a better understanding of other nations and cultures by acting as them throughout.

Lilia Simonov, learner who took part said ““The MockCOP event was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the climate issues that the world is facing. It also provided the opportunity to understand how interconnected perspective, socio-economic status and politics are when dealing with climate change issues. Especially when considering links to things like gender inequality, which was a big focus and heavily discussed.

At the MockCOP, Coleg Y Cymoedd had two teams representing The Philippines and Canada. As one of the representatives for The Philippines we had the opportunity to represent a country that is impacted greatly by climate change. Being able to use our voices to express these concerns and discuss possible amendments with other countries during negotiations was great. It really demonstrated how everyone at the event was very likeminded in understanding that climate is an issue. And that the United Nations need to tackle these issues as a priority. Overall the event gave us all the opportunity to develop our confidence and public speaking skills. While allowing us to discuss topics with passion that displayed the need for change.”

Holly Richards, MAT Coordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “The MockCOP competition offers young people a great opportunity to develop their debating skills and learn more about important global issues. The conference encourages young people to be more engaged with climate change and political issues while motivating them to consider the responsibility of Wales, both locally and globally.

“I was incredibly proud of our learners who did an incredible job representing the college. They showed an impressive passion for the subject and presented strong and convincing arguments which led to them securing backing for their proposals.”

Coleg y Cymoedd engineering apprentice lands full time spot with British Airways

An engineering learner at Coleg y Cymoedd has landed a full-time position at British Airways (BA), after impressing bosses with his qualifications and hard work during an apprenticeship.

Arjundeep Singh, 21, studied an NVQ Level 3 Engineering Manufacture – Fit & Assemble and Level 3 BTEC in Engineering at Coleg y Cymoedd as part of his apprenticeship with British Airways, achieving a double distinction * leading to him securing a permanent role at the airline.

Having always had a love of maths and physics, Arjundeep, from Cardiff, was inspired by his father’s job as a research and design engineer to pursue a career in engineering. 

While studying for his BTEC in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Cymoedd, he was awarded ‘Student of the Year’ and ‘Best Work’ learner award from the college, as well as ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the Caerphilly Business Forum Awards (which he was nominated for by the college). Alongside his BTEC course, Arjundeep completed a work based NVQ Level 3 qualification at British Airways Interior Engineering, based in Caerphilly, which was the perfect fit given his interest in aviation.

After receiving his results last summer, he continued to work as an apprentice with British Airways for several months before being offered full time employment at the company, working within the materials team which handles supply chain activity.

Now, nine months into his full-time position, Arjundeep is working as a Material Administrator within the Procurement and Supply department, where he helps to action buying plans and works closely with suppliers and major stakeholders, tackling any material supply issues and ensuring compliance with procedures and safety regulations.

Speaking about his success in securing the role, Arjundeep said: “I felt very proud when I secured the position as it showed that my hard work had paid off. I’ve learnt many new skills since I’ve joined British Airways, including how to use industry systems and how to manage relationships with suppliers and stakeholders. It’s also provided me with great experience of working in a professional office and boosted my confidence.

“British Airways has presented me so many opportunities for career progression too including supporting me to complete additional qualifications. I am currently studying towards my Member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply certificate (MCIPS).”

The former Coleg y Cymoedd ‘Apprentice Student of the Year’ says that the hands-on nature of both his BTEC and NVQ courses at the college, which have an emphasis on practical teaching around real-life situations, placed him in good stead for his apprenticeship and subsequent full-time and permanent employment with British Airways.

“My time at Coleg y Cymoedd gave me a great head start as the course explored engineering in depth with great practical elements, all while teaching me to use my initiative and problem-solve, which has been a great life lesson for the workplace.

“The state-of-the-art tools, equipment, and machinery at the college allowed me to learn what it would be really like in the industry and confirmed I wanted to work within it.

“Although it was difficult to meet my tutors in person through parts of my course, due to pandemic disruption, the college made sure learners felt supported – they really went out of their way, even driving up to British Airways just to drop off papers for my NVQ.”

Coleg y Cymoedd recognised for support of young athletes with national accreditation

Coleg y Cymoedd has become the first college in Wales to receive a national sporting accreditation that recognises organisations that go above and beyond in their efforts to support student athletes.

Coleg y Cymoedd has been awarded the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) dual career accreditation which is given to institutions that demonstrate a commitment to supporting young sportspeople to follow a dual career route – allowing them to reach their potential in education while achieving success in their sport. The college joins Swansea and Cardiff Metropolitan universities as one of only three Welsh higher education institutions with this status.

To mark its achievement, the college hosted a launch event at its Nantgarw campus which welcomed student athletes and their parents as well as guests from partner sports and education organisations to hear about the scheme and what it will mean for future learners. The evening included a talk from special guest Helen Phillips MBE, Non-Executive Chair of Commonwealth Games Wales.

Alun Davies, Dual Career Lifestyle adviser at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “The TASS accreditation is a prestigious recognition for the college and we are so proud to see that the strategies we have implemented to support our student athletes are being celebrated.

“We pride ourselves on being a place where learners’ academic and sporting goals are both fully supported, enabling them to gain qualifications alongside their sports pursuits without compromising either.

“Becoming a TASS dual career accredited site will help place Coleg y Cymoedd on the competitive path with other sporting institutes in Wales and across the border. The accreditation will also enable us to continue building connections with local sporting institutions and attract a greater number of talented athletes to the college in the future.”

Following a rigorous assessment process, Coleg y Cymoedd was awarded the accreditation in acknowledgement of the various initiatives and extra support it provides to athletes studying at its campuses. Its flexible academic policies include arranging catch up sessions with teaching staff when learners’ sports clash with lessons, access to online notes and additional resources, and even rescheduling deadlines or exam dates in exceptional circumstances.

31 talented student athletes will be selected to take part in the TASS programme at Coleg y Cymoedd, covering a diverse range of sports including but not limited to rugby, fencing, karate, gymnastics, football, netball, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, and taekwondo.

Among these learners are Welsh junior world champions who have represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games and GB Performance Squads. Each of them will receive one-one academic and lifestyle support from a qualified practitioner, with tailored plans based on their individual needs, which will depend on the nature of their sport.

They will also have access to top training facilities and advice around areas like nutrition and strength and conditioning, as well as personal development workshops focused on developing their skills and resilience.

Guy Taylor, TASS National Director, said: “TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is an important measure to ensure that talented athletes are allowed the flexibility to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded life. Through the programme, learners acquire skills and formal qualifications that are needed to help them find alternative careers, either alongside their sporting activities or once their sporting days are over.

“It’s important to us to recognise those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education. We’re delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to Coleg y Cymoedd in recognition of the great policies they have in place to offer an effective and lasting dual career structure within the college.”

New opportunities to learn Welsh

Coleg y Cymoedd is taking part in a pilot scheme for learners to learn Welsh for free during their time in college. Launched by SaySomethinginWelsh and the National Centre for Learning Welsh, this project is offered to all learners who express an interest in developing their Welsh language skills. The online course can be studied at the learner’s own pace and level. 35 learners have signed up to the scheme to date, either as individual learners or as a class who will learn as a group.

Aran Jones, founder of SaySomethinginWelsh said “There is an exciting new experiment happening in seven colleges and schools in Wales during the autumn term this year – access to a new learning tool by SaySomethinginWelsh called ‘Automagic’. This tool focuses on spoken language, and improves the learners’ speaking skills through many mini-exercises where the learner hears an English prompt and has to say it in Welsh. It’s possible to learn for as little or as much time as they like, and it’s possible to choose an intensity level by answering a question about how you feel – if you feel ‘Okay’, you’ll get easier exercises than you would if you chose ‘Amazing’. The reception so far has been very positive, and we hope this experiment will lead the way in helping everyone in English-medium education reach a level where they are very confident communicating in Welsh.  ”

Karen Workman, Coleg y Cymoedd’s Vice Principal/Chief Operating Officer added: “Coleg y Cymoedd is thrilled to a part of this project with SaySomethinginWelsh and the National Centre for Learning Welsh. This is a wonderful opportunity for our learners to learn Welsh and the response so far has been positive. It is part of the College’s wider strategy to develop learners’ Welsh language skills during their time in college and to strengthen learners’ connection to their own culture and history. It also complements the opportunities available for our staff to learn Welsh, through the Work Welsh FE project, funded by the National Centre for Learning Welsh through the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.”

When asked why he wanted to learn Welsh, one of the learners, Kyan Dyer currently studying Entry Level 3 Professional Cookery, answered, “I want to learn about my own culture and language, and I feel that it would also open up more opportunities for me by learning Welsh”.

Cymoedd learner awarded ‘The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales’ Award

A Cymoedd learner from the ‘A Level Class of 2022’ has received The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Award in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements.

The college was delighted to welcome Mr. Geoff Hughes, Past Master of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales accompanied by Liveryman, Miss Margaret Davies, to the Nantgarw campus to present the Award and a cheque for £250 to Brooke Pothecary.

Brooke, 18, from Porth studied at the college’s A Level Centre achieving an impressive three A* grades in English, Drama and Religious Studies alongside an A in the Welsh Baccalaureate, securing her place to study Italian and Japanese at Cardiff University. The A* learner, who is passionate about exploring new places, has developed a love of languages during her travels over the years and dreams of becoming an Italian language teacher in Australia, where Italian speaking staff are in demand.

Presenting the Award, Mr. Geoff Hughes, congratulated Brooke on her A Level results and on securing a place at Cardiff University. He explained one of the primary aims of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is to promote education in Wales and the ‘School Awards’ provide the opportunity to recognise learners who have achieved outstanding results.

Speaking after the presentation Brooke said, “I am proud to receive this Award in recognition of my A Level results; I was so happy to have achieved the grades that I needed to secure my place at Cardiff university and have to thank all the tutors at the college for their support. I am so excited to start my course in October”.

Commenting on Brooke’s achievements and the Award, Jonathan Morgan, Principal said, “We are so proud of Brooke. This is a great achievement for her, and I know that she has worked hard to achieve the grades required by Cardiff. We wish her every success for the future and I’m sure, given her commitment, she will achieve her ambition. I hope that Brooke will stay in touch with the college to inspire future learners. I would like to thank The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales; we are grateful for their continued support of Cymoedd learners and I’m sure they would agree – Brooke is a worthy recipient of the Award”.

Coleg y Cymoedd announces Jonathan Morgan as its new Principal

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.”

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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