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Meet the Staff

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Claire Hughes Davies

Claire Hughes Davies

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I have taught within the Vocational Access Department for 8 years and also 2 years in the Basic Skills Department. I teach Entry Level learners and I absolutely love it!  I am also the Campus Coordinator at the Nantgarw campus, so I’m lucky enough to work alongside all the learners and staff within our department.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

No achievement is too small.  These regular achievements add up to one big one.  I have a buzz every time one of my learners remembers something we have done in a previous session and when I can see that they are really enjoying a learning activity.  I also enjoy problem solving with my colleagues and I celebrate every positive solution!  But my greatest personal achievement is teaching a few groups a song or dance together.  It is amazing to be a part of a song or dance and see so many smiling faces and hear people having fun.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I have taught for 25 years in both the Primary and Further Education sector. Before I worked at Coleg y Cymoedd, I was a primary school teacher for 13 years in Cardiff and Caerphilly.  I made the change because I loved working alongside learners with additional learning needs.  I am also a qualified Youth Worker.

Tell us about your qualifications

I enjoy learning new skills, these are my achievements so far:

  • Master of Education in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs
  • Associate Member of the Dyslexia Association (Spld assessor)
  • Ed Primary Education (Hons)
  • Grade 6 Guitar and Grade 1 Piano

Something interesting about you

I am married with 2 children, so life is generally busy.  However, when I can, I enjoy chilling with my family.  We are all learning to sail, but I’m better below deck making the tea! I am really good at Pacman (showing my age) and I love reading about Tudor times, especially Henry VIII. I am still learning to play the piano and one day hope to play without being nervous!

Anthony Brett

Anthony Brett

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?
I am currently teaching Foundation Construction, but soon to be moving to ILS in Vocational Access Department


What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?
Being nominated as a national trainer for Numeracy by the Basic Skills Agency and travelling all over Wales sharing best practice with other practitioners.


Tell us about your career and experience in Industry
I’ve worked for over 23 years as a lecturer at the college, working in a variety of departments and consistently commended by ESTYN and awarding bodies for the quality of resources, teaching and learning of my classes. I have previous experience of working in an office setting in corporate credit management.


Tell us about your qualifications
9 O levels, 3 A levels, BA in English Literature, BSC (Hons) in Education and Media, PGCE in FE, Advanced Diploma in Special Needs Education, Assessor Awards, Verifier Awards


Something interesting about you
Although I’ve been to over 100 music festivals including Glastonbury, Reading, Green Man and Truck Festival, I loathe camping.

Dorian Adkins

Dorian Adkins

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I teach Phase 3 Construction Skills in the Vocational Access Department. I have been employed at the college for 11 years and have been teaching for the last 5 years.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Seeing my learners achieving Gold and Silver medals at the Welsh Regional Skills Competition and a Bronze Medal at the UK Finals in 2019.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I have worked in construction since leaving school in 2001. Firstly, in the stores of a builder’s merchants, then working as a site labourer before starting my Plumbing apprenticeship at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw Campus. I then served a number of years in industry before returning to the college as a part time Technician for the Plumbing Department in 2009. I qualified as a lecturer in 2015 and have been teaching since.

Tell us about your qualifications

City & Guilds Level 2 & 3 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing

City & Guilds Level 3 Assessors Awards

City & Guilds Level 4 Internal Quality Assurance Awards

PCET Post 16 Education

ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership & Management

Something interesting about you

My other passion is music, and before joining the college full time I was the drummer in a touring rock band.

Elaine Lippard

Elaine Lippard

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?
I started teaching in 1996. I was originally the Art teacher in Aberdare College and now teach students from the Learning Curve.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?
We have done lots of projects and activities through the years, more recently the students have been making jewellery and selling it for charity.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry
I’ve never worked in industry.

Tell us about your qualifications
I have a BA Hons degree in Three Dimensional Design + Ceramics and a PGCE Degree in Education.

Something interesting about you
I am interested in practical things I make jewellery and sell it in the Cynon Valley Museum. I am also interested in gardening and horticulture and the natural world.

Kerry Hartnell

Kerry Hartnell

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I am currently a Course Tutor in the Vocational Access department at Ystrad Mynach, Coleg y Cymoedd. I teach a variety of subjects at different levels of ability ranging from Entry 1 to Entry 3. I currently teach Independent Living Skills which consists of; housekeeping Skills, shopping skills, travel skills and cooking. I am part of the Hair and Beauty team delivering literacy and numeracy.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

My greatest achievement during my time at Coleg Y Cymoedd is contributing to the development of the Independent Living Skills programme designed for learners with additional learning needs. In addition to this I have contributed to developing the curriculum for Entry 3 Hair and Beauty Provision.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

From the age of 16 I have gained experience in the hairdressing industry. I was fortunate enough to secure an apprenticeship with Glemby International. After a few years of working as a qualified stylist I developed my own business as a freelance hairdresser. I obtained an NVQ Level 3 in Owner Management which provided me with the skills to market my business and manage my own accounts. I am a former Slimming World Consultant in which I managed a class of 35 clients. I returned to education in my thirties to pursue a career in teaching. Having gained relevant qualifications salient to my profession, I have spent the latter part of my career teaching and learning in FE colleges.   

Tell us about your qualifications

I have achieved many qualifications salient to my profession. Qualifications that, no doubt, prove advantageous to my role as a tutor, the most significant of these qualifications being a PGCE and a BA Hons (2:1) in Post Compulsory Education and Training.  In addition to this I have achieved Edexcel Level 3 and 4 in Training, Assessment and Quality Assurance. During my career I have also obtained; NVQ Level 3 Hairdressing, NVQ Level 3 Barbering, NVQ Level 3 Business Studies and Edexcel Level 3 Key Skills.

Something interesting about you:

I have an excellent understanding of children/young adults with additional learning needs and learning difficulties. As a parent myself, of two ALN children (now young adults) I feel that I can relate to the parents/carers on a more personal level as I understand the anxieties and pressures that they face daily. I am passionate about teaching and learning and find it rewarding when I can see that I make a difference to a young person’s life; whether this is teaching them something new and watching them flourish, or simply by putting a smile on their face. I am also a former black belt in Ninjutsu. 

Rachel Wallen

Rachel Wallen

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

My teaching career began in 2001, as a part time tutor of students with additional learning needs at Treforest Learning Curve Centre.  Within the Vocational Access department, I provide tuition on a number of subjects, including Literacy, Numeracy, Careers related skills, IT, Tourism and Public Services, as well as teach ICT to part-time students on the visually impaired computer course.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

I was awarded Distinguished Employee 2018 at Coleg y Cymoedd for my work with learners with a sensory loss across college.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I became a volunteer within Vocational Access, following university and completion of employment as a playworker of children with additional learning needs, during a summer playscheme.  A full time LSA role was offered to me whilst doing voluntary work at the college.  During this period, I worked across a number of courses within the discrete provision, as well as in mainstream classes.  My main interest initially was gaining experience with learners with a sensory loss.  I was encouraged to enrol on a PGCE course, which I finished in 2003.  Following this, I continued teaching part-time learners from Treforest Learning Curve, as well as doing sickness cover at the college.  A 75% post for teaching learners with a sensory loss became available in 2007 and I successfully gained this position.  Secondment to Merthyr LEA for a few hours per week, for a student with severe learning difficulties and a visual impairment was undertaken in 2009.  Over my career, I have been course tutor of a number of courses and taught from Entry 1 up to Level 3.  Currently, I am the Vocational Pathways course tutor and also of the part-time visually impaired computer class, as well as Learning Curve Co-ordinator for RCT part time groups.  Experience has been gained in using specialist software, making use of accessibility settings, creating tactile diagrams, brailling of materials and modification of documents to produce accessible materials, in addition to using various apps on I Pads and tablets.

Tell us about your qualifications

PGCE in Post Compulsory Education

RNIB Standard Certificate in English Braille

Unified English Braille

BTEC Advanced Certificate in Inclusive Learning Practices.

City & Guilds Initial Certificate in Teaching Basic Skills (Literacy)

BA Hons Humanities

3 A Levels

10 GCSEs

Something interesting about you

I really enjoyed art at school and particularly liked doing still life drawings, as well as calligraphy.

Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I have been working in the college for 18 years.  I have taught basic skills to adults and now work in Vocational Access.  This has involved teaching on Foundation Learning, The Learning Curve and ILS courses.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us? I have been a facilitator for STEPS.  This is a course to help improve confidence, self-esteem and set goals.

Tell us about your career and experience in industry

In my gap year I did voluntary work for Age Concern and The Stroke Association.

Tell us about your qualifications

I have a BA (Hons) at Cardiff University and teaching qualifications.

Something interesting about you

In my spare time I play the flute.

Rebecca Turner

Rebecca Turner

What do you teach @ Coleg y Cymoedd.

I teach Entry Level 3 Catering and ILS Pathways 2 on the Rhondda Campus. It is my first year as course tutor but have been working within the department over the previous year covering staff on a different range of courses.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Being offered a contracted tutor position after covering staff for a year. Watching the students progress on to higher level qualifications and achieving their goals.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry.

From the age of 16 I have always worked within the food industry. I’ve worked in the fast food giants as KFC and Subway and also worked in a factory kitchen as a dinner lady!
During my time at university I worked with the golden arches; McDonalds, I developed my customer service skills within the industry and I was promoted four times within a year from crew member up to shift manager. It is here where my experience within the catering and hospitality field really shines.  
I graduated with a BA (hons) in Drama and Theatre studies, here is where I found my passion for teaching, I loved how drama could help develop your confidence, self-belief and resilience all very important living skills. After graduating I worked for a company which promotes life skills within learners primary and secondary schools. This has helped within my position of teaching independent living skills to our learners at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Tells us about your qualifications

PGCE in Higher Education

Level 3 Diploma in Shift Management

Level 3 Award in Supervising Food Safety in Catering

BA (hons) Drama and Theatre Studies

Tell us something interesting about yourself

I’m a massive Disney fan and I’ve been to three of the parks (Paris, Florida and California) I am to visit all of them within my life time.

Sally Begley

Sally Begley

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I started teaching as a temporary lecturer about 7 years ago, I taught ICT to Level 2&3. Since then I have had a variety of roles in the college. Currently, I am on my 4th year teaching in the Vocational Access department, I teach across Entry level 1, 2 & 3 and I am course tutor for the new Supported Gateway to Employment course. I also teach on the Duke of Edinburgh provision.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

I have been a part of a new Welsh Government pilot scheme to plan and run the new Supported Internship course.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I have worked in a variety of jobs before the college, this has given me a good grounding to know the standard that learners need to achieve before leaving us to start on their own adventures.

Tell us about your qualifications

The main qualifications I have that are relevant to my career are:

  • Qualifications in SEN/ALN
  • Several qualifications in ICT
  • Qualifications in DofE
  • A teaching qualification
  • A degree in Education

Something interesting about you

I have 4 fish named Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moe.

Samantha Thomas

Samantha Thomas

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I first began teaching in Ystrad Mynach in 2008 in the Vocational Access department. When the colleges merged I taught in Rhondda campus followed by Nantgarw and Aberdare. I teach in Vocational Access with construction and hairdressing mainly. I have also taught the Learning Curve for many years.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?
Watching all the learners progress onto a higher course

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry
Since graduating I have always taught in Vocational Access. Having worked as a support worker this helped with my role in Vocational Access

Tell us about your qualifications
BA Primary Education with QTS

Something interesting about you
I have two children. I name my pets after chocolate bars

 

Stephen Todd

Stephen Todd

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?
Teaching since 2006: Independent Living Skills, with particular reference to Music, Gardening, Diet and Cookery, Environmentalism


What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Engaging Learners in Musical and Dramatic performances, seasonal as part of the Carol Service, St David’s day, the Pantomime in Nantgarw, and Summer School Music Theatre shows


Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I have been running a private music teaching business since 1987


Tell us about your qualifications
BA Joint Honours in English and Drama 2. 1
BA in Secondary Music Education

Something interesting about you

I toured Britain as Actor, Publicist and Prop Maker as part of the Independent Touring Theatre Company ‘PUBLICK SPIRIT’ in the late ‘70s and founded and directed the Early Music Consort ‘Pavane’ in Cardiff, appearing in Castle and Local Historical Venues for 12 years.

Sue Williams

Sue Williams

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?
Over the years I have delivered a range subjects at Entry 1 2 3 (Work skills, hairdressing, Cooking, travel skills, health and hygiene, healthy living, ITC, Social skills, PSE, gardening, health and fitness.)
I have been teaching at the College for Thirty four years.
I am currently Campus Co-ordinator for the School of Vocational Access.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?
One of my achievements is: - I started the hairdressing provision in the College in 1986.
Welsh government visited the College after me talking to them about the ILS provision.

Developing new IQA systems for all four Campuses.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry
I started working at the age of 14 doing a Saturday job and then continued to work as a professional hairdresser (full time). I became a teacher at the age of nineteen, and qualified as such in 1998.

Tell us about your qualifications
I have a range of Qualifications in hairdressing, teaching and learning and have completed a number of CPD training sessions over the years to improve my job role and learner’s experiences.

Something interesting about you:
I am a diligent hard working individual, I can communicate with people from all walks of life.

I am extremely organised in all things I do – which other people I work with aspire to.

I am very passionate about my job and will always welcome new challenges.

I am keen to improve the lives of our learners within the School.

I am very proud that a learner started at the College with me on an Entry level 2 course in hairdressing and progressed onto a teaching career.

Wendy Meredith

Wendy Meredith

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I currently teach Vocational Pathways E3, in the Department of Vocational Access, and am also the Course Tutor to E3 learners.


The subjects I teach include ESW Communication, The Four Pillars – Employability, Independent Living Skills, Community and Health & Well Being. Examples of areas included as part of this course are IT, Tourism, Public Services and Creative/Leisure Activities. I also teach Travel to an E1 group of learners.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Being a Charity Events Organiser which includes fundraising for Red Nose Day, Children in Need and Food Banks etc.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to go to the television studios in Cardiff with learners to celebrate Children in Need and we were on the television, promoting the College.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I have a Childcare Background and taught Childcare E3 and L1 for many years until it was closed down at Ystrad Campus two years ago. It now continues to be taught at Nantgarw and Aberdare Campuses.

At present I work in Vocational Access where I am Course Tutor to Vocational Pathways.


I am committed to providing a positive learning environment and ensuring inclusion throughout. I am able to fully engage learners by way of adopting a motivational and inspiring approach.


I pride myself on my organisational skills and have acquired a plethora of behavioural strategies that prove particularly advantageous within Vocational Access.


I have a lot of experience of teaching across a range of abilities and can adapt the levels of work delivered to suit all levels of learners, including learners with ALN or Autism.


I also work on a respite service for young people with ALN and Autism during the holidays at Trinity Fields School, where I am a team leader. I have an extensive knowledge of ALN and have worked in this area for seventeen years at this school.


Tell us about your qualifications:

Gained my NNEB in 1995 when I retrained as a Nursery Nurse at Ystrad Mynach College
Gained my PGCE in 2003 at Ystrad Mynach College
Gained a B.A. Hons. Degree in Further Education in 2006 at Ystrad Mynach College

Something interesting about you
I was involved in Girlguiding for twenty- five years as a Brownie Guider and I also covered other areas such as Pack Holiday Advisor, District Commissioner, Rainbow Guider did Mentoring for new guiders.

Liz Terry

Liz Terry

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I teach in the Vocational Access department. I have been teaching for 24 years.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

To see learners progress, whether it is onto higher level courses or to achieve personal accomplishments, that are not measured in terms of qualifications.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

After I completed my degree, I moved to Cardiff and worked in a Barnardo’s project, with adults with learning difficulties. At the same time I went to Coleg Glan Hafren to complete a qualification in Community Care. I then went to work in a youth project, helping vulnerable learners with welfare issues. I also started a Basic Skills course.

I taught English as a foreign language for a year in Prague University. On my return, I got a job as a carer for adults with learning disabilities. I worked with the organisation for 7 years, in which time I completed my PGCE. I then gained part time employment with Mencap, Swansea University and Merthyr Tydfil Community Education, working with adults with learning difficulties - teaching Basic Skills and Independent Living Skills.  I also started working for Aberdare College in the Vocational Access department. During my employment with Aberdare College and Coleg Morgannwg, I also worked in the Basic Skills department.

Tell us about your qualifications

O levels

A levels

Dip HE

BA Humanities

Community Care

PGCE

Basic Skills 9282

Basic Skills level 3 Literacy

Something interesting about you

I have flown the Bermuda Triangle

Rachael Cooke

Rachael Cooke

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd

I started teaching on the Ystrad Mynach Campus in October 1997, with the Additional learning learners following my practical placement for my PGCE at UCWN. This is where I have stayed and enjoy greatly.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

There have been many achievements everything from Residential's to DofE. Every year is an achievement, watching the learners grow in confidence no matter how big or small.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry.

During my time in University I worked in a local store and I have also worked in the Care industry.

Tell us about your qualifications

I have a BSc. in Fitness & Health from the University of East London and a PGCE from the University of Wales College Newport.

Something interesting about you – I enjoy the outdoors

Everything from walking to rock climbing and abseiling. Enjoy quality time with my family.

Val Smith

Val Smith

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Enjoying my job still

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

I teach yoga and meditation and have done for 23 years, this year! However, I have practised since the age of 12. I run workshops and a weekly yoga class which I love.

Over the years I have gathered more experience and qualifications in outdoor education and now run the DofE for our department in college.

Tell us about your qualifications

Cert Ed

Diploma in Education

C&G catering: 706 1/ 706 2/ 706 3

Basic Food Hygiene Award

First Aid at Work

ARCH Diploma in A&P and Colon Hydrotherapy

BWY Diploma

WGL

BELA Award

NNAS Gold

Mountain Bike Leader Award

Level 1 Bike Maintenance Award

BSY Diploma in Nutrition (vegan/vegetarian)

Something interesting about you

Health, Food, Outdoor exercise, People

Ruth Majeed

Ruth Majeed

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I have taught Drama and Music in Vocational Access Department since 2008. Prior to the pandemic I was running classes in the community, but this year I have been part of the team delivering ILS in Nantgarw.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

My greatest achievements are the performances I have created with classes in the community, varying from choir performances to musical theatre, comedies, dramas and pantomimes. All performances have been great successes for both participants and audiences.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

Before working for Coleg y Cymoedd I worked as a theatre actor, writer and director. As I work part time for the college, I also work as a drama practitioner for Caerphilly Arts Development, producing devised performances in Blackwood Miners Institute and other venues in the Welsh Valleys. Prior to my theatre career I made a living as a musician, through session and accompanist work and teaching. My main instruments are piano, guitar and flute.

Tell us about your qualifications

I have 8 ‘O’ levels, 3 ‘A’ levels in English, History and Politics and an ‘S’ level Distinction in English Literature.

I have FUE’s in English, Philosophy and Sociology from Reading University, but left before finals.

My degree (BA with Hons) is in Drama (with media) from the University of South Wales. (2007)

My PGCE is from Newport University (2008)

I am currently learning Welsh with Coleg y Cymoedd

Something interesting about you

Four years ago I inherited a horse – a thoroughbred/Arab cross called Fred who has taught me to ride and is probably my best friend ...

Helen Taylor-Hodges

Helen Taylor-Hodges

What do you teach at Coleg y Cymoedd?

I’ve been in the Vocational Access department at Coleg y Cymoedd for almost three years now. I started as a Learner Support Assistant and became a Job Coach when the ‘Gateway to Employment’ programme commenced in September 2019.

The Gateway to Employment programme is designed to help young people with additional learning needs aged 16 – 24 in finding work by giving them real life work-based experiences in a supported internship setting during their final year in college.

What is your greatest achievement during your time with us?

Seeing one of our learners progress from the programme last year to start working on an apprenticeship program in the Parks and Leisure department of Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council. It’s lovely to see the learners work journey’s progress.

Tell us about your career and experience in Industry

Before starting work in the college I’ve had a few different career paths throughout the years which have given me a good head start when supporting our learners in going out to their job placements. 

I’ve had experience in retail, child care, social care, hospitality, customer services and the travel industry as well as working for different local councils in the education department and with voluntary organisations.

Tell us about your qualifications

I decided to go back to university 9 years ago (proving that it’s never too late to learn new things) and gained my Professional Certificate in Education in 2014.  I also have qualifications in speech and language support in the classroom, British sign language (level 1), customer services, child care and family support (nurturing)

Something interesting about you

My dream is to buy a campervan and tour through America and Canada in it, once I get to an age when I can retire.

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