News Archive 2011

12/12/11: Wales and Europe learn together

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has been hosting a very successful work placement for a business administration student from Mallorca over the last four weeks whilst at the same time it is helping apprentices across Wales to prepare for their work placements in Spain next year.

Since launching its international arm, CollegesWales (UK) International, ColegauCymru has been supporting employers in Wales to place students from Spain in workplaces here. Engineering companies have so far provided most of the work placements in Wales. This time, however, with Andrea Cantarellas Martorell, who is studying for an advanced management qualification in business administration at Nuestra Señora de Montesión College in Mallorca, it was ColegauCymru itself that hosted the placement.

During the four week placement, Andrea undertook a wide range of administration duties, markedly expanding the capacity of ColegauCymru's small team of staff, whilst also having the opportunity to put her knowledge into practice, develop new skills and improve her English.

Andrea Cantarellas Martorell said: "The work placement with ColegauCymru has been the best work experience I have had to date. My administration skills as well as my English have improved tremendously. ColegauCymru is a small office but the variety of work it undertakes provided me with a wide range of opportunity to practice and improve my skills. I was also fortunate to be able to stay with a host family and I have benefited from a very warm welcome to Wales."

International Coordinator at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Siân Holleran, Andrea's mentor during her stay, said: "Throughout her four week placement, Andrea proved an undoubted asset to ColegauCymru. She worked effectively with the whole staff team and undertook a wide variety of work – always with a smile. She is proof that vocational careers are portable and that technical and soft skills plus experience of other cultures and a grasp of another language make for an unbeatable combination and I wish her the very best in developing her career."

ColegauCymru is keen to ensure that apprentices from Wales have similar opportunities to broaden their horizons and find their place in the global economy. It is currently preparing a number of apprentices to take up work placements in Spain next spring.

Sian Holleran continued: "I am looking forward to developing more international work placements and helping ambitious college students and apprentices who have set their sights on a vocational career path to find their place in the global economy."

Ends

07/12/11: Wales' qualifications fit for purpose? Discuss

Is the qualifications system in Wales and the qualifications themselves fit for purpose? Join the online discussion on www.qualificationsconference.pbworks.com – the precursor to the national conference on qualifications on 2 February 2012 – and which will feed into the official Review of Qualifications commissioned by the Welsh Government.

The online discussion and the conference are organised by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the Welsh Government. Leaders, managers, teachers and learners who are involved in education and training are all invited. The focus is on the qualifications available to 14-19 year olds. Participants are likely to include further education colleges, schools, higher education institutions and independent work based learning providers, as well as awarding organisations, sector skills councils, 14-19 learning partnerships, Estyn and employer representatives.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "In September, following the Education Minister Leighton Andrews' call earlier in the year for a national debate on qualifications, the Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert AM announced a Review of Qualifications. This is an exceptionally important review that will help shape the future direction of our 14-19 qualifications system for at least the next decade.

"ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is keen to assist and support the review's project board to reach out and gather views from the wider education and training sector. Hence, we are organising, in partnership with the Welsh Government, an online discussion forum open to all as a space to discuss the future path of qualifications in Wales, which will be followed by a national conference on qualifications in February."

Key points emerging from the online discussion will be fed into the national conference on qualifications. A further opportunity to contribute to the online discussion will follow the conference, with a final report on the evidence gathered being submitted to the Review's project board by ColegauCymru. The Review's project board is scheduled to submit its report to the Deputy Minister for Skills in autumn 2012.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert AM said: "Having access to a high performing, well understood and responsive qualifications system is hugely important to learners, educationalists, employers and the wider economy. In considering the future path for qualifications in Wales, it is vital that our deliberations and decisions are based on clear evidence.

"I am delighted that ColegauCymru has taken the initiative, in partnership with the Welsh Government, and set up an open online discussion forum that will be followed by a national conference on qualifications. These two opportunities will enable the Review's project board to gather a lot of relevant evidence about what works well, what works not so well and what needs to be changed."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The online discussion forum is at: http://qualificationsconference.pbworks.com

3. Click for the conference programme and flyer: Review of Qualifications

4. The Twitter hashtag is #QualsConf

5. On 29 September 2011 the Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert AM announced a Review of Qualifications. The Review team is chaired by Huw Evans OBE. The full list of members of the Review's project board was announced on 6 December. The first meeting of the project board is held today, 7 December 2012.

Spanish: Key to Engineering Apprentices' Work Programme

The chance of a European work placement is inspiring engineering apprentices from Wales to broaden their horizons. First step: learn Spanish.

Spain is hosting two-week work placements for apprentices from Wales under a programme led by CollegesWales International - the international arm of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales. The European-funded programme is working with colleges across Spain - in the Basque Country, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands - to source work placements for up to 26 apprentices from Wales in the spring of 2012.

This work placement programme is ambitious and challenging for learners. The apprentices' tutors settle them in to the host country and then leave the apprentices to take on the responsibility of doing a job of work in a company in Europe. They will have to adapt to a new culture, get along with new colleagues and communicate in an unfamiliar language for the duration of their stay.

Today, five engineering students who study at Coleg Morgannwg have been given time by their companies - FSG Tool and Die, RPC Containers and Eries Magnetics, along with two tutors from Neath Port Talbot College - Michael Rees and Colin Thomas, to start to prepare for the placements that will take place next March by learning Spanish.

One of the apprentices, 19 year old Luke Parry who works FSG Tool and Die, said: "I chose not to study languages at school: science and technology was my thing. But this is different. It's real - I'm going to work in Spain. I will need to understand my job, my colleagues, and of course the boss! And I'll need to sort myself out - buy food, use public transport. Everything.

"It puts learning a language into a whole new perspective. I'm totally motivated to learn Spanish now. I'll have to work hard between now and March to squash enough Spanish into my head to be able to make the most of this experience.

"I'm also looking forward to adding a modern foreign language to my CV. Itís great that the language course Iím on is going to be accredited so Iíll have something on paper to show for it. And a work experience in another country, too, Iím really hoping that that will help in many ways in future."

International Coordinator at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Siân Holleran, who is herself a linguist, said: "ColegauCymru is working hard to provide opportunities for learners in Wales to broaden their horizons and find their place in the global economy. There has never been a better time for ambitious college students who have set their sights on a vocational career path to add a modern foreign language to their suite of vocational skills.

"In partnership with CILT Cymru, the National Centre for Languages in Wales, ColegauCymru has organised intensive language training for the apprentices, accredited by the WJEC, with sessions held in North and South Wales.

"Internationally portable vocational careers can be found in beauty therapy, business administration, catering, construction, education, engineering, and more. High level technical and soft skills plus experience of other cultures and a grasp of another language make for an unbeatable combination.

"I am looking forward to expanding these opportunities in Wales by widening the participation of Welsh learners in work placements in Europe and I wish this first group of apprentices the best of luck with their Spanish!"

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. CollegesWales International is the international arm of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

3. The European work placement programme organised by CollegesWales International is funded by the Leonardo Programme - part of the European Unionís Lifelong Learning Programme http://www.leonardo.org.uk/

4. CILT Cymru is the National Centre for Languages in Wales http://www.ciltcymru.org.uk/

5. In the first year of the CollegesWales International programme, up to 30 apprentices from colleges across Wales will be supported in work placements in Spain. Other countries in Europe have already signalled their interest to become involved in the programme if CollegesWales International is successful in its funding bit to continue the programme beyond 2011/12.

6. The five apprentices learning Spanish today were (L to R in the photo): Rhys Johnson, Rhys Jones, Andrew Stubbs, Luke Parry, Evan Griffiths.

Wales-China Education Consortium Benefits from Chinese Visit

The Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium welcomes the newly employed Grace Tan to Wales on her whirlwind tour of colleges this week, following the official launch of the Consortium by Wales' First Minister in China last week.

Grace Tan is employed by CollegesWales (UK) International to represent the Further Education (FE) Consortium in Chongqing. She will provide continuity and momentum to partnerships that already exist between colleges in Wales and their counterparts in Chongqing and serve as a catalyst for the development of new partnerships that will be of mutual benefit to both countries.

Chair of the FE Consortium, Mr Bryn Davies, said: "Grace Tan has impeccable credentials, with an honours degree from a British University and having most recently worked as senior trade and investment officer for UK Trade and Investment - part of the British Consulate General in Chongqing. There, she helped UK companies expand their business in South West China.

"Grace has joined the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium only recently but is already proving to be a great asset. Her communication and organisational skills have already been put to good use in organising the official launch of the Consortium in China and in introducing the Consortium to education agents based in China."

The aims of the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium include harnessing the expertise of colleges in Wales to assist in the ambitious economic and social expansion of Chongqing by providing relevant training, tailored courses, and consultancy support.

Wales' learners, too, are set to benefit from the Consortium. Wales and Chongqing have much to learn from one another. The key focus for Chongqing is to raise the skills levels of its workforce including its burgeoning migrant population. The key focus for Wales is to establish an international mindset among our learners, broadening their horizons and improving their employment opportunities both in Wales and in the global marketplace.

Key priorities for the Consortium include:

  • Cultural exchanges between students in Wales and China
  • International study options
  • Work with counterparts in colleges in Chongqing to strengthen quality assurance systems and develop curriculum specialisms
  • Explore the potential for in-company corporate training and the up-skilling of migrant workers and technicians in rapidly-developing Chongqing

Grace Tan said: "This is my first visit to Wales and I've been really taken with the very warm welcome I've received! I'm delighted to be able to visit each of the eleven colleges from all over Wales that make up the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium. It makes for an exceptionally busy tour around the country, but there is a wonderful enthusiasm and momentum about the Consortium which makes it particularly worthwhile.

"The Consortium is an exciting development that brings to the Chinese audience a coherence and focus on Wales. The Consortium opens up a whole new window of opportunities and expertise for its Chongqing audience, encompassing A levels, the International Baccalaureate, technical specialisms and expertise in working with businesses.

"In addition, given that Chongqing is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, the Consortium will also be a means of enthusing students from Wales to embrace the challenges of a global economy."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. CollegesWales (UK) International is a division of CollegesWales. Its purpose is to work with other countries to offer more opportunities to learners, to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

3. In June 2011, ten of Wales' further education colleges formed a Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium as part of CollegesWales (UK) International.

4. The further education institutions that comprise the consortium are:
Bridgend College
Cardiff and Vale College
Coleg Gwent
Coleg Llandrillo Cymru
Coleg Harlech WEA (N) and WEA (S)
Coleg Morgannwg
Coleg Powys
Deeside College
Gower College Swansea
Yale College Wrexham
Ystrad Mynach College

5. The Further Education Consortium employs Mandarin-speaking Grace Tan, who is based at the Welsh Government's offices in Chongqing: Wales Government Office, Room 2808, Metropolitan Tower, Zourong Road, Central District, Chongqing 400010, P.R. China.

6. Pictured: Chair of the Wales-Chongqing Consortium, Bryn Davies; Consortium Officer in Chongqing, Grace Tan; CollegesWales' International Officer, Sian Holleran.

Welsh Colleges link up with China

Further education colleges from across Wales are expanding their links with China through a new initiative launched by the First Minister Carwyn Jones whilst on a visit to the country.

The Wales-Chongqing Consortium brings together Welsh colleges to develop partnerships with businesses and institutions in Chongqing, including technical and vocational schools. The Consortium will promote and develop international student recruitment as well as develop specialist vocational courses. It will also look to develop skills and training courses for Chinese companies.

The Consortium is managed by CollegesWales, the organisation that represents all the further education (FE) colleges and two FE institutions in Wales. The Consortium has appointed a full time member of staff based at the Welsh Government's office in Chongqing to develop the collaboration.

Colleges in Wales are already highly active in China. Coleg Llandrillo has delivered training for Hospitality teachers in Chongqing Education College, Gower College Swansea is finalising a health and safety training courses for mine managers with Chongqing Vocational Institute of Engineering, and the first Wales-Chongqing skills exchange took place in Chongqing earlier this year showcasing the talents of students and staff from both Wales and China.

The First Minister said: "The Wales-Chongqing Consortium will enable the member colleges in Wales to expand their work with technical and vocational schools in Chongqing, sharing their expertise, advice and experience with their counterparts in China.

"The appointment of a dedicated member of staff to represent the consortium in Chongqing will provide an extra boost to partnerships and friendships that already exist between colleges in Wales and here in China. I wish it every success for the future."

Chair of CollegesWales David Jones said from Chongqing: "The aims of the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium include harnessing the expertise of colleges in Wales to assist in the ambitious economic and social expansion of Chongqing by providing relevant training, tailored courses, and consultancy support.

"Wales and Chongqing have much to learn from one another and Wales' learners, too, are set to benefit from the Consortium.

"The key focus for Chongqing is to raise the skills levels of its workforce including its burgeoning migrant population. The key focus for Wales is to establish an international mindset among our learners, broadening their horizons and improving their employment opportunities both in Wales and in the global marketplace. This is an exciting moment for further education and their learners in Wales."

Ends

Media contact for CollegesWales International: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968
Welsh Government press office: 029 2082 1823 771913.
Notes:

1. CollegesWales represents all of Wales' further education colleges. It is an educational charity and a company limited by guarantee. CollegesWales' board of directors comprises college principals and chairs of corporations, appointed by member colleges.

2. CollegesWales (UK) International is a division of CollegesWales. Its purpose is to work with other countries to offer more opportunities to learners, to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

3. In June 2011, eleven of Wales' further education colleges formed a Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium as part of CollegesWales (UK) International.

4. The further education institutions that comprise the consortium are:
Bridgend College
Cardiff and Vale College
Coleg Gwent
Coleg Llandrillo Cymru
Coleg Harlech WEA (N) and WEA (S)
Coleg Morgannwg
Coleg Powys
Deeside College
Gower College Swansea
Yale College Wrexham
Ystrad Mynach College

5. The Consortium employs a Further Education Project Officer, Grace Tan, based at the Welsh Government's offices in Chongqing: Wales Government Office, Room 2808, Metropolitan Tower, Zourong Road, Central District, Chongqing 400010, P.R. China.
6. In the photo, left to right: Grace Tan, Wales-Chongqing FE Consortium Officer; Qingyun Ma, Welsh Government office, Chongqing; Sun Weiping, Chongqing College of Electronic and Engineering; Hu Bin, Chongqing Education Commission; the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales; David Jones, Chair of CollegesWales; Paula Middleton, British Council Chongqing; Gary Davies, Welsh Government.

WorldSkills Legacy for Wales

ColegauCymru is delighted to congratulate all the colleges from Wales that participated in WorldSkills 2011 and especially IT student David Bowen for achieving a Medallion for Excellence as official recognition of having demonstrated 'world class' level in web design.

Building on this foundation and sustaining our momentum is now key to Wales' performance at the next WorldSkills in 2013 in Germany.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, John Graystone, said: "Wales is performing strongly against national and international comparators. However, when it comes to the very best in the world, Wales could do better. We are under-represented in the UK team.

"Having been part of the amazing international buzz and witnessed the world class level of skills that was the centrepiece of WorldSkills 2011, Wales' colleges – their students as well as staff – are more motivated than ever before to compete on the global stage.

"Success breeds success. Having three members of college staff from Wales as supervisors or managers for Team UK in 2011, now with experience of working at top international competition level, should prove a key resource for all of Wales' colleges in moving forward."

Planning ahead to WorldSkills 2013, the Welsh Government has appointed Barry Liles, Principal of Coleg Sir Gâr as WorldSkills Champion for Wales. Mr Liles chairs a network of WorldSkills Champions from the further education sector which is proving to be a key driver for Wales-wide collaborations to raise skills levels through competitions.

In addition, it has just been announced that a UK-wide annual skills competition has been formed as the legacy of WorldSkills 2011. Called WorldSkills UK, it will be a great opportunity to focus on preparing for future WorldSkills competitions.

Dr John Graystone said: "National and international competitions can provide the spur for both staff and students to challenge and stretch themselves continually. WorldSkills is proving to be a strong inspirational catalyst in raising aspirations so that Wales can match the best in the world.

"Congratulations to all the colleges that made WorldSkills the amazing event that it was. I now look forward to seeing Wales develop an even stronger position for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013."


Ends
Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Participation by Wales' colleges at WorldSkills London 2011 included:
one student competitor in Team UK
two Team UK Managers
one Team UK Workshop Supervisor
one college presenting at the Global Skills Marketplace - an international skills conference running alongside WorldSkills
12 skills Showcases on the WorldSkills stage
over 900 college students and staff exhibiting, volunteering or visiting
one very lively interactive 'Make it Happen Exhibition' staged as a partnership between ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales.

Learners team up to improve money management skills of communities across Wales

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales unveils new 'Money for Life Challenge' competition for 16 to 24 year olds.

Applications opened online today for the Money for Life Challenge: a new national competition to find the most successful and innovative money management projects that learners can deliver to improve their money management skills, and those of their friends, families and communities.

Money for Life Challenge projects could be anything from getting fellow learners clued-up about choosing the right mobile phone contract, or empowering local young mums to be savvy shoppers, to demonstrating how being green can be also good for the family purse strings.

Teams of up to ten young people aged 16-24 years old in further education, work based learning or adult community learning can apply for a grant (1) to enter, with the support of an individual project sponsor from their learning provider.

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, in partnership with NTfW, is promoting and co-ordinating the competition across Wales.

Programme Manager for Money for Life in Wales, CollegesWales' Julia Owens, said: "There are a host of reasons to be a part of the Money for Life Challenge. As well as building sound money management skills, learners will practice their leadership, teamwork and communication skills. They'll build useful community networks, receive a certificate and gain relevant experience for CVs and job interviews.

"And for learning providers, taking part in the Money for Life Challenge will help deliver active citizenship, core and employability skills, and meet the requirement for a range of courses such as community participation, enterprise and key skills – as well as the opportunity to contribute towards student volunteering and charity fundraising goals."

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales will be assessing entries to see which local teams of young people will be awarded a project grant, and judging which projects should then go through to the National Finals.

National finalists will be announced on 22 March 2012 with winners going through to the UK Grand Final in May 2012 in London, hosted by Truett Tate, Lloyds Banking Group's Group Executive Director for Wholesale Banking and Vice Chairman, Client Coverage.

"With pressure on all our monthly budgets increasing, it's great to be involved in the Money for Life Challenge that will reward innovative approaches to money management. I am looking forward to reviewing the winning entries and meeting the young people who take part, as well as hearing more about the positive impact they will have on communities all across the UK." said Truett.

Those attending the Grand Final in London in May 2012 will have a chance to win £2,500 for the registered charity of their choice, £100 of Bonus Bonds (2) for each member of their team and access to a Lloyds Banking Group mentor for a year.

Sarah Porretta, Head of the Money for Life Programme, which aims to embed vital money management skills in Further Education (FE) sector institutions or community groups, commented, "More than ever, being good at managing money is one of the most important skills that young people will ever learn. We're excited to see young people using the Money for Life Challenge to help build the money management skills of their friends, families and communities, and looking forward to seeing some great projects around the country over coming weeks and months."

Anyone interested in applying for a grant to enter the Money for Life Challenge should visit www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk or the Money for Life page on Facebook.

Ends

Notes to editors
1. £200 for learners to run the project, and £300 to cover costs incurred by the learning organisation – terms and conditions apply.
2. Bonus bond gift vouchers can be redeemed at over 25,000 places in the UK and not just in high street shops. Bonus bond gift vouchers have no expiry date. Find out more at: http://www.bonusbond.com/
About Money for Life Challenge
The Money for Life Challenge has been created in consultation with further education and community partners: National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Scotland's Colleges, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, National Training Federation Wales, Educational Guidance Service for Adults and Toynbee Hall. These partners will also be instrumental in the delivery and co-ordination of the competition.
Money for Life Challenge is part of the Money for Life programme - a unique partnership between Lloyds Banking Group and FE sector partners in the four nations of the UK on a financial capability and personal money skills programme that aims to embed vital money management skills in further education sector institutions or community groups. For more information on Money for Life, please go to: www.moneyforlifeprogramme.org.uk

Calendar
24 Feb 2012: Grant applications close
16 March 2012: Closing date for uploading your project
22 March 2012: Nation finalists announced
4 April 2012: Wales Final, Cardiff
week of 21 May (tbc): UK Final, London
More information
For general enquiries, please contact moneyforlife@bluerubicon.com

Key contact in Wales: Julia Owens, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales T: 029 2052 2500

Wales on stage at WorldSkills

WorldSkills, the skills equivalent to the Olympics, or the 18-25 year-olds' equivalent to Pisa, comes to the UK this year: this week, in fact, 5-8 October. And Wales will feature large on its stage.

WorldSkills is the world's largest international skills competition that attracts more than 50 countries competing in 46 medal categories. Taking place every two years, it is a particularly high-profile and intense way of recognising the very highest levels of vocational skills in world terms.

Following a rigorous selection process through a series of heats, two college students from Wales reached the UK Squad selection and one, David Bowen, an 18 year-old web design student at Coleg Sir Gâr, made it through to Team UK. At the ExCeL Centre in London this week he will be competing over four days against the best web designers in the world under the age of 25. The pressure will be intense.

In addition, one-half of all of Wales' colleges have been selected to showcase particular skills on the WorldSkills show stage. This number is twice as high as would be expected from a country the size of Wales and shows how well Wales is doing in demonstrating excellence in skills.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "David Bowen has done incredibly well to be selected for Team UK at just 18 years old. He has worked so hard to hone his skills through the long series of heats and competitions across the UK as well as further afield in the lead-in to WorldSkills whilst continuing to study for his National Diploma at Coleg Sir Gâr. He deserves our congratulations and our best wishes for this week's competition against the best of the best in the world.

"In addition, I am delighted to recognise that Wales' colleges have punched above their weight in being selected to showcase a range of vocational skills to the 150,000 strong WorldSkills audience. Ten colleges will perform twelve showcase demonstrations including culinary arts, floristry, iron casting, professional boat building, performing arts, traditional rural crafts and green skills. This is a fantastic achievement and shows the world how well Wales is doing in raising the skills levels of its young people."

One of the showcases is a catwalk show of extravagantly creative floral creations by Northop College students. The college's Head of Programmes for Floristry Paul Raven said: "This really is a once in a generation opportunity for our students and we're delighted that the excellent standards our students achieve will be on show at such a prestigious international event. To be part of an event which recognises skills at the very highest level is truly aspirational and I have every faith that our students will rise to the occasion and help to put on a truly inspirational show."

Aidan Jones, Executive Director of WorldSkills London 2011, said: "The huge range of Showcasing ideas that poured in from colleges across the UK is really impressive. With 150,000 visitors to the WorldSkills London 2011 Competition, the Showcase stages will demonstrate the widest range of skills that shape our world and be a really exciting part of the biggest, most inspirational and visual display of careers ever seen in the UK – all under one roof!"

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The full programme of showcases, workshops and displays by Wales' colleges at WorldSkills is available from http://bit.ly/qmHpyA

3. Northop College is part of the Deeside College Group of Colleges.

Wales' Colleges Measured against Rest of the World

The skills economy is a global marketplace and learners in Wales – and Welsh industry more broadly - need to be able to compete with the best. Colleges in Wales are responding to global competition by looking outwards and challenging themselves against the best in the world. This week (5-8 October), the focus is on WorldSkills, the world's largest skills competition which is staged in London this year.

Within Wales, further education colleges are committed to achieving high quality through seeking to meet the ever-higher challenging quality benchmarks set by the Welsh Government and judged by Estyn, Her Majesty's Inspectorate in Wales. Now, colleges are looking beyond national boundaries and are seeking to measure quality and success in vocational skills in international terms.

Wales' colleges are broadening their horizons and those of their learners. The newly launched CollegesWales International, the international arm of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, is creating opportunities for apprentices from Wales to have work placements in Europe and is developing strong links with China. Through such international opportunities it is becoming evident that, as much as Wales has to offer other countries for example in helping to develop strong quality management processes, Wales has a lot to learn from other countries in developing learners' vocational skills at a worldclass level.

There has been much discussion about Wales' performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, which is a test for 15 year olds. For 18-25 year olds who are pursuing a vocational career, WorldSkills is the key measure of success. It is the global stage whereby countries are ranked according to their cutting edge precision skills or worldclass creative flair. For obvious reasons it is dubbed the 'Skills Olympics'.

WorldSkills hasn't always been on Wales' radar. Things started to change two years ago, when two students from Wales competed as part of Team UK in WorldSkills 2009 in Calgary, Canada. Team UK notched up a highly creditable 7th position overall out of 43 countries.

This year, with WorldSkills being staged in the UK, Wales' colleges have realised the potential that WorldSkills offers to lift learners' aspirations beyond the local and plant them firmly in the global marketplace.

This week at WorldSkills London 2011, Wales' colleges have:

  • one student competitor in Team UK
  • two Team UK Managers
  • one Team UK Workshop Supervisor
  • one college presenting at the Global Skills Marketplace - an international skills conference running alongside WorldSkills
  • 12 skills Showcases on the WorldSkills stage
  • over 900 college students and staff exhibiting, volunteering or visiting
  • one very lively interactive 'Make it Happen Exhibition' staged as a partnership between colegauCymru / CollegesWales, the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales.

In the run-up to WorldSkills London 2011, Wales has been a keen participant in Wales-level skills competitions, having entered the third highest number of entries in across the UK nations and English regions for WorldSkills 2011. It has also been selected to perform more than twice the number of showcases on the WorldSkills stage than would be expected from a country the size of Wales. College staff have also been recognised – with three staff from Wales' colleges working with Team UK. And we have one competitor from Wales in Team UK.

Wales is performing strongly against national and international comparators, then.

However, when it comes to the very best in the world, Wales could do better. We are under-represented in the UK team.

Success breeds success. Having three members of college staff from Wales as supervisors or managers for Team UK with experience of working at top international competition level should prove a key resource for all of Wales' colleges in moving forward.

Ian Thompson, a Team UK Manager from Coleg Llandrillo explained: "Bringing everyone together in the competition atmosphere allows individuals to shine and compare themselves skills wise to the rest of the world. This then drives up the skill level of all countries as they compete to the best.

"I know that being on an international stage will show me how the rest of the world compares to us and where we are in relation to them. From this I can then influence what is taught on the courses within my college and what we should be doing differently, if anything, in order to get the best educated students and employees in the world."

With its sights on WorldSkills 2011 and WorldSkills 2013, the Welsh Government appointed Barry Liles, Principal of Coleg Sir Gâr as WorldSkills Champion for Wales. Mr Liles chairs a network of WorldSkills Champions from the further education sector which is proving to be a key driver for Wales-wide collaborations to raise skills levels through competitions.

Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales said: "Further education colleges in Wales are becoming recognised as high quality institutions by the Welsh Government and Her Majesty's Inspectorate. In international terms, we are doing well, but know we have much to do.

"National and international competitions can provide the spur for both staff and students to challenge and stretch themselves continually. WorldSkills is proving to be a strong inspirational catalyst in raising aspirations so that Wales can match the best in the world. I wish all of our participants from Wales every success in WorldSkills London 2011 and look forward to seeing Wales develop a stronger position for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013."

Ends
Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The Opening Ceremony for WorldSkills London 2011 takes place at the O2 Arena on 4 October. The exhibitions and competitions take place from 5-8 October at the ExCeL Centre, London. For further information on WorldSkills visit: www.worldskillslondon2011.com or T: 0800 612 0742.

CollegesWales is officially international

Ambitious and adaptable college students and apprentices who want to enhance their vocational skills in workplaces abroad now have more opportunities than ever as ColegauCymru / CollegesWales launches CollegesWales International.

CollegesWales International has wide horizons. It is starting life in Europe as well as further afield in China.

Spain, France and Italy are the first European countries to experience CollegesWales International. It is organising two or three-week work placements with employers in Europe for apprentices from Wales. It also works with employers in Wales to place students from Europe in workplaces here.

This work-based learning exchange scheme is ambitious and challenging for learners. Their tutors settle them in to the host country but then return home, leaving the learners to fend for themselves. The apprentices live with host families or in a local college environment and have to adapt to a new culture, get along with new colleagues and communicate in an unfamiliar language for the duration of their stay.

Five engineering students from Spain and three South Wales-based companies were the first beneficiaries of CollegesWales International's services. The work-based learning placements for those five Spanish students have ended and they have returned to Spain. Two apprentices from Swansea have also just returned from placements in Italy and a further two are currently in Italy. More placements are planned during this academic year involving apprentices from eight colleges across Wales.

Further afield in China, college students and staff from Wales were spellbound on their first visit to Chongqing, China in March this year where they participated in the
first China-Wales Skills Exchange. Momentum for cementing relationships with Chinese colleges has grown leaps and bounds since then.

A CollegesWales International representative based in Chongqing, China is soon to be working to a consortium of ten further education colleges from the Wales Government office in Chongqing in order to develop relationships with Chinese businesses and technical colleges for the mutual benefit of Wales and China.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The launch of CollegesWales International is a major step forward in opening up new markets for colleges and their students and apprentices in Wales. The global economy offers rewarding and enriching opportunities to those who have the drive and ambition to take on these exciting new challenges.

"The aim of CollegesWales International is to help provide a first step for vocational learners who want to find their own way in the global marketplace. It is important that we support these learners with professionalism and expertise. Launching CollegesWales International as a brand in its own right within the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales family shows the world that colleges in Wales are fully committed to this exciting development."

International Coordinator at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Siân Holleran, said: "ColegauCymru is working hard to provide opportunities for learners in Wales to broaden their horizons and find their place in the global economy. There has never been a better time for ambitious school pupils and college students who have set their sights on a vocational career path to add a modern foreign language to their suite of vocational skills.

"Internationally portable vocational careers can be found in beauty therapy, business administration, catering, construction, education, engineering, and more. High level technical and soft skills plus experience of other cultures and a grasp of another language make for an unbeatable combination.

"I am looking forward to expanding these opportunities in Wales by widening the participation of Welsh learners in work placements in Europe and in developing our relationship with China."

Wales at WorldSkills London

WorldSkills is the world's largest international skills event – the 'skills Olympics'. Staged every two years, it was last in the UK in 1989. WorldSkills London 2011 will bring together 1,000 competitors under 25 years from over 50 countries/regions to compete in 46 separate skills competitions. Around 150,000 people are expected to attend, including well over 800 from Wales' colleges alone.

Relevance to Wales:

  • Performers in the official WorldSkills Opening Ceremony extravaganza will be dressed in costumes designed and constructed by Coleg Morgannwg students.
  • One competitor, 18 year old David Bowen a student at Coleg Sir Gâr who is from Llandysul, Carmarthen, is in the UK Team. He is competing in the web design competition. The competition takes place over the four days of the WorldSkills event: 5-8 Oct.
  • Coleg Sir Gar has been chosen to present at the Global Skills Marketplace - an international skills conference running alongside Worldskills
  • Reflecting the high quality of vocational teaching in Wales, two members of college staff from Wales have been chosen to be managers of the UK Team: Ian Thompson (Coleg Llandrillo) and Paul Green (Yale College Wrexham). In addition, Mike Walters (Coleg Sir Gâr) is a Workshop Supervisor and six apprentices from Wales' colleges will gain a wealth of experience in their role as volunteer workshop assistants
  • Organisations could apply to showcase vocational skills on the high-profile main stage and specialist stages e.g. Cookery Feature Stage and STEM Zone. Wales' has been more successful than any other UK nation/English region in winning these sought-after, once in a generation opportunities. Ten colleges will deliver twelve showcases over a wide range of skill areas. They are: Coleg Menai, Deeside College, Coleg Gwent, Coleg Morgannwg, Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Sir Gâr, Ystrad Mynach College, Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Harlech WEA(N), Cardiff and Vale College.
  • ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, NTfW and the Welsh Government have joined forces to organise a high-impact 'Wales' exhibition and demonstration stand to sell Wales as a place to learn, visit and do business.


Getting to Grips with the Curriculum

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has responded to today's announcement by the Deputy Minister for Skills of a Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds in Wales by organising a conference on qualifications on 2 February 2012 to feed into the consultation process.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I am pleased that the national debate on qualifications, first encouraged by the Education Minister Leighton Andrews in February, now has a structure and we can all start to get to grips with the key issues over the coming year.

"I'm sure we all agree that what Wales needs is a simplified qualifications system that includes up-to-date, relevant general and vocational qualifications that are understood and valued by students, employers, entrepreneurs and universities. Progression from one level of learning to the next is particularly important, as well as preparing learners for the world of work.

"Fundamentally, we urgently need to raise literacy and numeracy across all ages. Literacy and numeracy rates are unacceptably low in Wales. We need a standard measure to assess learners' starting point and to track progress. A single, common literacy test used in schools and by all post-16 learning providers would be a step in the right direction.

"Too many learners arrive at further education colleges with low literacy and numeracy levels and are consequently held back from enrolling on a higher level course until they have received enough additional support to raise them to the level required for entry onto a technical or academic course. Progression from one level of learning to the next must therefore be a focus of the Review of Qualifications – from basic skills through to higher education. Wales cannot afford for its 14-19 year old learners not to reach their potential.

"ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is keen to work closely with the team carrying out the Review of Qualifications and has already taken steps to organise a major conference on 2 February 2012 that will feed into the Review. A senior line-up of key speakers is being confirmed, including the Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert and Professor Alison Wolf who chaired the Review of Vocational Qualifications for the Government in England recently."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The Deputy Minister announced the Review of Qualifications on 29 September 2011 at a Business Skills meeting in Swansea. A Welsh Government press notice is here: http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/educationandskills/2011/110929qualifications/?lang=en

International Work Based Learning Gathers Pace in Wales

The second of a series of work placements organised by ColegauCymru for students from Europe to come to Wales for international work-based learning is coming to a successful end, at the same time as Welsh students are preparing to take up their own placements in Europe.

Thanks to a partnership between ColegauCymru and the Escola Técnica del Clot in Barcelona, Spain, three engineering students from Barcelona have been learning on the job for the last three months at GE Healthcare in Cardiff.

This week, with the work based learning placement at an end, Victor Rusiñol (19), Alejandro Almazán (19) and Samuel Perez (18) are returning to Spain to start their second year of a higher degree in Regulation and Automatic Control Systems. An assessed work placement is a compulsory part of their course.

A number of colleges across Europe, such as Escola Técnica del Clot, have gained a lot of experience in preparing their students for work placements in foreign countries as part of their studies, introducing them to the global skills economy. Now, through ColegauCymru's central coordination, Wales, too, is joining its European counterparts, helping to coordinate a series of work placements in Wales for students from Spain whilst at the same time preparing Welsh students to have work experience in industry on the continent.

This type of work-based learning exchange scheme is ambitious and challenging for learners. It offers work experience for individual students in the workplace. Their tutors settle them in to the host country but then return home, leaving the learners to

fend for themselves. They have to cope on their own in a foreign country, communicate in an unfamiliar language, get along with work colleagues in a new environment, and sometimes, with a local family.

Victor said of his experience at GE Healthcare: "It was difficult at first. I was on work experience so of course I needed time to learn the job, but I was also learning in a foreign language and trying to understand a new culture – and my colleagues. But the effort was definitely worthwhile. I have learnt a lot of things that are relevant to my studies as well as learning about life. I have become more adult and mature. Now I know I don't have to depend on my parents. I can be independent and find my own place in the global workplace.

"Without doubt I would recommend my work placement to other students. This experience has been awesome."

The three students' supervisor at GE Healthcare, Craig Elward, Instrument Team Leader in the Engineering Department said: "We were very pleased to be able to offer this placement. The challenges set for the students were sometimes technically difficult; however they did extremely well in completing the tasks with good humour and ability. We were initially concerned about spoken communication issues, but we soon discovered that this concern was not warranted. The students proved to be great ambassadors for their college and country."

International Coordinator at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Siân Holleran, said: "ColegauCymru is working hard to provide opportunities for learners in Wales to broaden their horizons and find their place in the global economy.

"I am delighted that the work placement coordinated by ColegauCymru has proved a success for GE Healthcare, the three students, and their college in Spain. It augurs well for future international placements between Wales and other countries in Europe. Indeed, the first work placements for Welsh students have just begun. Last week, two apprentices from south Wales arrived in Italy and are now settling in to their three week work placement.

"I am looking forward to expanding these opportunities in Wales by widening the participation of Welsh learners in work placements in Europe."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales used to be called fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. GE Healthcare Life Sciences employs more than 500 people at The Maynard Centre in Cardiff. The site is the centre of excellence for reagent development and manufacturing for Life Sciences products. The site was opened in 1980 at a cost of over $40 million and since that time has grown to become one of the major development and manufacturing centers in the GE Healthcare Life Sciences organization.

3. The work placements have been funded through the Erasmus internship programme, sourced by the Escola Técnica del Clot, Barcelona, Spain.

4. This is the second time that ColegauCymru has sourced work placements for international students. The first took place in May-June this year.

Outstanding A level results at Wales' Colleges

The A level pass rate as well as the higher A*-C pass rate at a string of further education colleges in Wales are well above the UK average and some individuals have achieved truly incredible results, including five A* for one science student.

Gower College Swansea, Coleg Sir Gâr, Deeside College, Pembrokeshire College and Neath Port Talbot College all report A level pass rates at the higher A*-C grades that are well above the UK average of 76.2%, as well as Coleg Menai with a highly noteworthy 82% of its entries achieving A*-C.

St David's Catholic College's Honours Programme for its gifted and talented students is reporting phenomenal results. 61% of students gained A* or A grade, with 82% gaining A*-B grade at A2 level. In total, five students from the college have been successful in gaining entrance to Oxbridge.

Joining them at Oxbridge will be:

budding female engineer Emily McAllister from Neath Port Talbot College with 3 A* grades

  • Ben Jones, a 23-year old mature student from Gower College Swansea who takes his A*AA grades to Cambridge to read Education & History
  • Keyron Hickman-Lewis from Coleg Gwent who is going to Oxford with straight As in Geography, Geology, Maths and Physics
  • Gower College Swansea's Curtis Bonnell, a former pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Strade, whose A*A*A*A* secure him a place reading Natural Sciences at Cambridge
  • aspiring barrister James Preece from Deeside College whose A levels in Law, Maths, Psychology and Physics, have got him a place at Cambridge University
  • Sheena Loeffel from Coleg Sir Gâr who takes her 4 A levels to Oxford to study Chemistry
  • Mared Gwyn Jones from Coleg Llandrillo who will study Modern Languages at Cambridge
  • Tamara Williams from Yale College whose three A* grades has a secured place at Cambridge to read Natural Sciences.

A clutch of students are also bound for medical college, including Jessica Roberts from Yale College Wrexham, Stefan Merrix from Pembrokeshire College and Luke Treharne, captain of Coleg Sir Gâr's award-winning rugby team. But competition for places is clearly intense, with one star pupil at Coleg Menai with four A* grades failing to secure a place at medical school.

Star families are in evidence this year. Twins Freya and Portia Rees-Jones from Gower College Swansea both achieved A*AA in the same subjects: Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. And two sisters at Yale College Wrexham and their mother are all set for making a big name for themselves in the male-dominated engineering sector: Zara Sheady is off to study Aeronautical Engineering at Swansea University, younger sister Rhian is going to Nottingham University to study civil engineering, and their mother Sharon this year was crowned apprentice of the year and is being sponsored to move to Uganda to renovate schools.

Ensuring strong support for the whole range of A level candidates, Coleg Gwent's A level flagship Crosskeys Campus has achieved a 99.4% pass rate for A*-E grades and Neath Port Talbot College is celebrating a pass rate of over 99% for the sixth year in succession. 44 of the A level subjects offered at Coleg Gwent have reaped 100% pass rate, with 42 subjects at Neath Port Talbot College achieving the same and 36 at Coleg Llandrillo.

Colleges have supported the traditional 16-18 year old full time A level students as well as mature students, part-time students and second-chance students to great personal successes. For example:

  • Kosovo War volunteer Hywel Phillips left school at 17 having passed all his GCSEs but he didn't have the motivation to succeed at sixth form. Now 22, he is delighted that he decided to enrol at Cardiff and Vale College two years ago and is now on track to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by studying Chemistry at University, starting with a four-year MChem at Southampton University.
  • Zambian born Isaac Mangala came to Wales with his family in 2003 at the age of eleven. He was understandably disappointed when he didn't do as well as expected in his GCSEs. Now, following GCSE resits and fast-track A level studies at Cardiff and Vale College whilst earning at the same time to finance his studies, the 18-year old is hoping to study Computer Science at university.
  • 37-year old Claire Gilder had left school after GCSEs and then dedicated herself to being a Mum, never having the time to develop a career. When she was made redundant two years ago she enrolled for three A levels at Deeside College and is now looking forward to starting a degree in English with aspirations of becoming a teacher.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "It is an immensely proud moment to report that the A level pass rate at so many Welsh colleges outstrips the UK average at both A*-E as well as at the higher A*-C grades. A few colleges are particularly large providers of A levels, giving these outstanding results nation-wide significance. There were 1,834 A level entries at Gower College Swansea, 1,121 entries at Neath Port Talbot College and 925 at Coleg Gwent.

"The larger tertiary colleges have demonstrated that their most highly talented students achieve with the best. Achieving at least three A grades were 22 students at Yale College Wrexham, 21 students at Coleg Gwent and 18 students at Neath Port Talbot College including one student, Reuben Maclean Quin, who achieved a remarkable five A* grades.

"I am delighted to congratulate the highest performing students who are going to the most prestigious universities. I am particularly delighted at those students who have achieved less startling results on a national level but results which were nonetheless beyond their wildest dreams when they first entered college. Many who had left school with poor or mediocre results who feared being branded as failures have turned their lives around by enrolling at college, working hard, and reaping strong A level results and university places.

"My sincere congratulations go to the students, and their teachers and the staff at colleges across Wales who have supported them on their way to success in the A levels, AS levels and of course, the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma which has also today returned record-breaking results."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Press contacts for the colleges named in this release:
Coleg Gwent: Kim Spurr T: 01495 333507 M: 0772 0380545
Neath Port Talbot College: Fay Harris T: 01639 648006
Coleg Sir Gâr: Amanda Rees T: 01554 748118
Gower College Swansea: Allison Lowe T: 01792 284262
Cardiff and Vale College: Ffion Chard Tel: 029 20250250 Ext. 3442 or 07904229169
Deeside College: Claire Nicholson or Vicky Barwis T: 01244 834531 M: 07889820631
Pembrokeshire College: Geoff Elliott or Charlie Royal T: 01437 753100 or 01437 753148
St David's Catholic College: Alwyn Lloyd T: 029 2043 1879
Coleg Menai: Carl Mather T: 01248 383324
Yale College: Jane Rayner M: 07904 125 924 or Angela Witter T: 01978 317321 ext 2033
Coleg Llandrillo: Nick Hill T: 01492 546666 ext 484

Modernising Education Structures Favoured by Colleges

Two independent, highly radical reports on education structures in Wales find broad favour with colleges.

In an Assembly debate the Education Minister accepted key recommendations put forward by the independent report on the structure of education services in Wales. More central direction from the Welsh Government is expected to follow and formalised regional consortia, including local government and colleges, will in future be expected to plan education services more efficiently for 14-19 year old learners.

Alongside the Report on education structures, the consultation period on the review of FE colleges' governance arrangements has just closed. The purpose of the governance review was to 'future proof' governance structures so that they fit with the emerging new structures of post-16 education and training in Wales with a strong emphasis on collaboration and partnership. Among the review's radical proposals is the establishment of a new social enterprise-type model of governance for further education colleges.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Colleges have been anticipating the Minister's response to the Report on education structures and have been pressing ahead with plans for achieving more efficiencies whilst maintaining high quality delivery.

"I am pleased that the Report recognises that FE colleges are keen to collaborate with others for the benefit of learners and that it notes the determination within the FE sector to develop more opportunities for learning through the medium of Welsh.

"Colleges have been working with an increasingly wide range of partners over recent years to raise quality through making savings through sharing services with others in order to protect and improve front line education services."

Sharing services alone will not, however, achieve the required savings. The report on education services recommends a review of the method of funding 16-19 education in order to tackle curriculum choice, unproductive competition between providers, surplus places in schools, and making the best use of capital resources. In addition, it expects more colleges to merge.

John Graystone continued: "A ColegauCymru survey on shared services shows colleges have each saved more than £100,000 per year. But the survey concludes that bigger savings can be introduced only as a result of structural changes – be they mergers or as part of the transformation agenda or restructuring.

"Colleges are pressing ahead with this agenda. A number of college-college mergers have taken place over recent years and more are under discussion. If all potential mergers currently under discussion take place by the projected date of 2013, the number of FE colleges and FE institutions, over a period of seven years, will have fallen from 25 to 15."

The Report on educational structures commends further education colleges for achieving beyond the Welsh Government's quality targets. In the main, the Report concentrates on 14-19 education, but significantly it also notes that FE colleges provide for a wider range of learning than that covered by the proposed regional consortia. It states that colleges' post-19 provision, including its tailor-made programmes for industry, must be maintained.

The FE governance review likewise recognises the diverse nature of FE colleges' provision and its wide ranging community of learners and stakeholders. In order to maximise representation and ownership of FE colleges, the governance review has boldly recommended establishing colleges as social enterprises.

John Graystone continued: "ColegauCymru broadly supports the highly radical changes proposed by the governance review, including establishing colleges as social enterprises.

"However, it is a radical model. Implementation of the new arrangements will require careful planning and preparation. It might be useful to pilot the proposed new model of governance in certain areas to ensure that it does not lead to increased costs and bureaucracy, a slowing down in responsiveness or a reduction in entrepreneurialism. Regional or sub-regional approaches should also be explored."

John Graystone concluded: "I am delighted that both independent reports have recognised Wales' colleges as high quality institutions that work hard to deliver value for money for the benefit of individual learners and the economy as a whole.

"Colleges recognise the need to work collaboratively with others to achieve greater efficiency, to maintain high quality and to offer choice to learners. That is the agenda we are pursuing and we are committed to continuing the pursuit of that goal."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously known as fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. ColegauCymru's response to the consultation on the Independent Review of the Governance Arrangements of Further Education Institutions (the Humphreys Report) is available from http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk/consultation_responses-23.aspx

3. The Independent Task and Finish Group Report on The Structure of Education Services in Wales was commissioned by Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, in autumn 2010. The report was made public by the Minister on 29 March 2011, together with a Ministerial Statement. Further information on the Task and Finish Group, its remit and responses to its consultation are available from: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/wagreviews/educationservicesreview/?lang=en

4. A National Assembly for Wales debate on the Structure of Education Services in Wales took place on 28 June 2011.

First Wales-Spain Work Based Learning Exchange

The first Wales-Spain work-based learning placements ended successfully today with the return of two vocational learners to Spain following eight weeks in Wales working with companies specialising in the installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.

Both Manel Margalef Mateu (21) and Martí Montagut Martí (22) are coming to the end of a three-year course focusing on the industrial maintenance of equipment adapted to the renewable energy sector at the Institut Pere Martell, Tarragona in Spain. An assessed work placement is a compulsory part of their course.

Their college, the Institut Pere Martell, has been organising work placements for their final year students for a number of years, at home in Spain and also in France and Finland. But this is the first time that they have worked with companies in Wales: Manel and Martí were the only ones of their group to come to Britain.

Martí was placed with Neath-based Solar Installations Wales, following initial contact with the company by Gower College Swansea and Manel was placed with Green Home Wales based on the Gower.

Both trainees have been involved in a whole range of renewable energy installations and have become practiced in assembling and maintaining solar electricity and solar hot water systems, heat pumps and high pressure unvented hot water cylinders.

Gareth Thomas, Company Director at Solar Installations Wales reported that Martí adapted to new tasks well and improved in skill and confidence throughout the programme. Softer skills, too, were an important aspect of fitting into the team, and Martí got along well with the team as well as with the customers. His English improved in leaps and bounds over the course of his stay.

Manel's placement with Green Home Wales was clearly a highly successful match. Manel has made good friends among the Green Home team and was complimented by many clients. He made such a good impression that the company offered to extend his placement.

Green Home Wales Company Director, Dee McCullough, said: "I can't believe that the time is over! We will definitely miss Manel – we did try to persuade him to stay a little longer!"

Coordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the work placements were the first of a series being organised for students from Europe to come to Wales for international work-based learning and vice versa: Welsh students will soon have opportunities to have work placements in Europe.

Vocational and cultural exchanges between Wales and Europe are increasing. Usually, a group of students visits a foreign country accompanied by their tutor for a few days whilst staying in a hotel.

But this new work-based learning exchange scheme is much more ambitious and challenging for learners. This scheme offers work experience for individual students in the workplace. Their tutors settle them in to the host country but then return home, leaving the learners to fend for themselves. They have to cope on their own in a foreign country, communicate in an unfamiliar language, get along with work colleagues in a new environment, and sometimes, with a local family.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "ColegauCymru is working hard to provide opportunities for learners in Wales to broaden their horizons and find their place in the global economy.

"This was the first time that ColegauCymru has coordinated work placements for students from other countries in Europe. I am delighted that it has proved a success for the two Welsh companies, the students, and their college in Spain. It augurs well for future international placements between Wales and other countries in Europe. Indeed, another three work placement students are arriving from Spain today.

"I am looking forward to expanding these opportunities to Wales and to Welsh learners."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales used to be called fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Solar Installations Wales, Neath, is a company that takes a whole solution approach to renewable, working with domestic, farming or commercial customers.

3. Green Home Wales, Swansea, offers design, supply, installation and maintenance services in renewable energies to private householders, businesses, housing associations, the public sector, charities and community groups.

4. The work placements have been funded through the Erasmus internship programme, sourced by the Institut Pere Martell in Spain.

Award Winning Entrepreneurs: you saw them here first!

A chef who is working his way to becoming the youngest Michelin starred chef and a photographer who's won an all-expenses paid placement with world-renowned fashion and celebrity photographer have been jointly crowned VQ Learner of the Year.

The VQ Learner of the Year Award ceremony took place at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on Vocational Qualifications (VQ) Day – 22 June 2011, hosted by inspirational speaker and ultra-marathon winner Lowri Morgan.

The two VQ Award winners, Luke Thomas and Melissa Jenkins, have a passion for their craft and a keen eye for business. They are talented, committed, entrepreneurial, and destined to go far.

Luke Thomas, a former student at Yale College Wrexham and Connah's Quay High School, has ambitions to become the world's youngest Michelin starred chef.

He was crowned Springboard Future Chef of the Year 2009 and has since secured placements at some of the best rated restaurants in the world, including two and three Michelin-starred restaurants in Denmark, USA and the UK. He's worked alongside some of the most famous faces in food including Heston Blumenthal, Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay and cooked for none other than Prince Charles.

Luke has even secured his own personal sponsorship to travel around the world learning new culinary skills. His next port of call is Dubai, where he plans to hone his seafood skills. He plans to open his own top-quality establishment in the next two years.

Astonishingly, he has achieved all of this and is still only 17.

Luke Thomas said: "I am delighted to win this award and it just shows what can be achieved once appropriate vocational qualifications are gained and with hard work along the way."

Melissa Jenkins, 21, from Ogmore Vale, is having a memorable year. Just a few days ago she learnt that she has graduated with a first class honours degree in photography. Earlier this year, she was named Nikon UK Student of the Year Foundation Award, one of the most high profile awards that any final year undergraduate student can win open. Her prize is three months' paid employment plus living expenses for London and top of the range Nikon equipment to work as a photographer's assistant to renowned fashion and celebrity photographer John Wright.

Melissa's photographs have been featured in national magazines including What Digital Camera? as well as a 10 page feature in the international lifestyle magazine Sublime.

Now, she is setting up her own freelance fashion photography business and shooting top fashion designers' new collections for London Fashion Week.

Melissa Jenkins said: "I'm still in shock but absolutely ecstatic to win such a prestigious award. I am in awe of the talent displayed at the ceremony and feel honoured to be a part of it and even more so, to be chosen as a winner!"

Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills, congratulated Luke and Melissa on winning the VQ Learner of the Year Award. He said "As the Deputy Minister for Skills I am delighted that we in Wales have strong homegrown talents that can take on the world with talent and entrepreneurial flair.

"Vocational qualifications can provide a solid foundation to a rewarding career across the whole range of economic sectors. They provide not only the underpinning knowledge needed for the relevant employment sector but also build practical skills, business skills and help forge business contacts.

"Congratulations to all the VQ finalists and winners. Wales delights in your success."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. VQ Day is a UK-wide celebration of vocational successes. In Wales, VQ Day is supported by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the National Training Federation for Wales and the Welsh Government. Coordination of VQ Day at a UK level is provided by Edge, an independent education foundation. Further information is available from the following websites:
www.vqday.org.uk
www.ntfw.org
www.collegeswales.ac.uk
www.edge.co.uk

2. The VQ Learner of the Year Award is part of VQ Day. In Wales, the VQ Learner of the Year Award ceremony was hosted by ultra-marathon runner Lowri Morgan. The Awards were presented the Welsh Government's Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert AM at the National Museum for Wales, Cardiff on VQ Day – 22 June 2011.

3. Photo L to R: finalist Benjamin Morgan (Deeside College), joint winner Melissa Jenkins (Bridgend College), Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert, Awards Ceremony host Lowri Morgan, finalist David Bowen (Cpleg Sir Gâr), finalist Christopher Lewis (Bridgend College), finalist Eleri Evans (Neath Port Talbot College). NOT PICTURED: joint winner Luke Thomas (Connah's Quay High School / Yale College).

4. More information including an e-book with profiles of all the VQ Award finalists is available from VQ-Day

Keeping Learners Financially Fit

Financial education for further education learners and work-based trainees has been given a boost with the development of interactive sessions, focused tutorials, quizzes and games.

At the 'Keeping Learners Financially Fit' speed-dating conference on 14 June at Cardiff City Football Stadium, almost 100 educators and students showcased new resources and initiatives that have been developed over the past year to improve learners' financially capability.

The event was part of the UK-wide Money for Life initiative, a two-year, £4 million investment which aims to create a step change in financial capability among adult learners.

In Wales, Money for Life is led by ColegauCymru/CollegesWales in collaboration with NTFW and sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group.

Through showcasing resources developed by Money for Life focus groups made up of a wide variety of organisations and learners, the conference focused on:

  • why financial capability is so important to the further education, work-based learning and community education sectors, and
  • the role that education practitioners: tutors, advice workers and community workers, play in equipping learners with sound money management skills that benefits the learners as well as wider society.

Addressing the money management needs of different types of learners, the resources have been developed with and for people who are unemployed, those on low incomes and young parents.
Examples showcased included:

  • A special financial well-being event on the pitfalls of poor money management that was organised for young people by Coleg Glan Hafren, focusing on the experiences of victims of loan sharks that had been in the local media. Videos of loan shark victims helped give an understanding of how deeply such an experience can affect someone's life. This prompted a peer-peer learning session where participants shared their own experiences and they all committed to learn how to manage money in order to avoid such desperate pitfalls.
  • An interactive online quiz on the finance of employment, which teaches and tests knowledge of pay scales in different occupations and tax and National Insurance rules. The quiz, developed by Barry College, will be shared among all colleges and the wider educational sector through the National Grid for Learning (NGfL).
  • 'The taste of money' - a blind tasting exercise comparing budget and premium branded produce presented by Deeside College students was judged by the 'Keeping Learners Financially Fit' audience as the best presentation on the day.
  • A Monopoly style board game attractively designed by Coleg Harlech/WEA North Wales where the aim of the game is ensuring value for money. Players throw a dice and move across a board, answering questions and attempting to keep money in their personal kitty. To go overdrawn is to lose!
  • A dedicated programme of financial capability tutorials to complement the Essential Skills Wales study programme under consideration by a group comprised of Barry College, City and Council of Swansea, Coleg Harlech/WEA North Wales, Merthyr Learning Centre, Neath Citizens' Advice Bureau, Neath Port Talbot College and Pembrokeshire College.

A key purpose of all the resources and programmes showcased at 'Keeping Learners Financially Fit' was to help young people acquire skills to help them control their finances throughout their adult lives.

The day closed with a panel discussion with senior representatives from the National Training Federation for Wales, Lloyds Banking Group, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, and the National Union of Students (NUS) Wales.

Michaela Neild, NUS Wales Deputy President said: "Money for Life is a hugely important initiative that helps students to learn the money skills they need to be able to stay in education and training and ultimately throughout their adult lives. In addition, I am really pleased that so many students participated in the 'Keeping Learners Financially Fit' conference and that they were given the opportunity to be directly involved in developing the resources and opportunities through Money for Life focus groups, making sure that the outputs are relevant to learners' lives."

Berni Tyler, Head of Quality at CollegesWales said: "The range of participants at the 'Keeping Learners Financially Fit' conference – the culmination of the first year of the Money for Life initiative, was testament to the inclusive approach we are taking to benefit learners from across a diverse spectrum. It has proved a successful collaboration for further education, adult and community learning, work-based learning and industry. In the second year of the programme, we will be looking to develop on the peer-peer learning model, giving grants to learners to develop innovative ways to work with their community groups to teach them about financial capability.

For more information about the programme, please visit www.moneyforlifeprogramme.org.uk

Ends

Media contact: Sylvia Davies on T: 029 2052 2500 or M: 07968 771913
Notes to Editors:


Money for Life

Money for Life is supported by Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and Halifax, owned by Lloyds Banking Group
The programme builds on work started by the FSA and concluded by CFEB in 2010-11, as part of a seven-strand, five year national strategy for financial capability throughout the nations of the UK. Two strands included funding for programmes via key workers for young adults in colleges, university and the youth sector, as well as a website and online financial tools.
Money for Life is taking place in a phased approach over from 2010-12. Phase one has focused on raising awareness and embedding financial capability and skills with adult learning and Further Education (FE) practitioners, whilst phase two will focus on the delivery of free-of-charge training and the Money for Life Challenge – a learner-focused financial capability activity.
Money for Life offers two qualifications accredited by the Open College Network:
1. 'Teach me financial capability': for practitioners who want to consolidate their own financial capability knowledge.
2. 'Teach others financial capability': for anyone interested in developing skills to be able to help others improve their money management (e.g. through FE courses or community groups).
Money for Life has identified and addressed barriers to financial capability learning via a series of focus groups across the UK, examining the financial capability needs of distinct learner groups. Types of learns focused on by the groups were: ESOL learners, learners at risk of becoming NEET, migrant workers, work-based learning apprentices, access learners, work-based learners, young parents, young offenders, Skillbuild apprentices, students attending outreach centres, students in vocational learning, and students taking part in Essential Skills education.
Focus groups also took place which looked at providing financial capability coaching and skills through community networks, developing an interactive financial capability game, and those volunteering as a money mentor.
In Northern Ireland, the focus groups which took place were Delivering Financial Capability for Access Learners and Financial Capability Support for Migrant Workers.

Further information on each focus group can be found here: http://www.moneyforlifeprogramme.org.uk/resources/
Money for Life partner organisations (Wales):

ColegauCymru/CollegesWales
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national organisation representing all 19 further education (FE) colleges and two FE institutions in Wales. Through CollegesWales, colleges are represented on various committees, working parties and other groups that influence and shape policy in post-16 education and life-long learning. http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk

Ffederasiwn Hyfforddiant Cenedlaethol Cymru/National Training Federation for Wales
The National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) is a Wales wide membership organisation of over 90 organisations involved in the delivery of learning in the workplace. Members range from small specialist training providers to national and international organisations, as well as Local Authorities, Further Education Institutions and Charities. The NTfW represents the interests of Training Providers and Learners to inform them about all aspects of the education and training agenda in Wales. http://www.ntfw.org/
Other UK partners:
Scotland's Colleges (Scotland) http://www.scotlandscolleges.ac.uk/Welcome.html
National Skills Academy for Financial Services (England) http://www.nsafs.co.uk/
Toynbee Hall (England) http://www.toynbeehall.org.uk/
Educational Guidance Service for Adults (Northern Ireland) http://www.egsa.org.uk/

Wales' Colleges Launch China Consortium

The Wales' Colleges Consortium for Chongqing, China is launched today. It marks the beginning of a strategic international direction for Wales' colleges, working collaboratively with a range of partners to bring international opportunities and a broadening of horizons to college learners and staff in Wales.

Twelve Further Education Institutions in Wales are joining forces, with support from ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the British Council and the Welsh Government, to build relationships with partners in Chongqing, China to benefit both Wales and China.

China is now the second largest economy in the world. It is abuzz with entrepreneurship and packed with cutting-edge industries. Chongqing – the fastest growing city in the world - has a population of 7 million in a municipality of 31 million. It has huge ambitions. It already produces one-third of all laptops in the world and one-third of all motorcycles in China. It is in addition aiming to be the world's IT centre.

Chongqing's ambitions bring particular challenges. It is expanding on a scale unimaginable in Wales. It needs to integrate and train around 8 million migrant workers moving from the country to newly created jobs.

Hence it is keen to develop partnerships with Wales' further education colleges to benefit from their solid track record in developing relevant vocational skills and their expertise in working with industry.

This development provides a tremendous opportunity for Wales, its colleges and its learners, to learn from Chongqing and to expand Welsh students' views of their place in the world economy.

Thanks to a China-Wales skills exchange in Chongqinq in March 2011, ten Welsh students from six colleges across Wales have already had an opportunity to make an impression on their Chinese hosts as well as to experience the skills that are valued in China and find out about booming Chinese industries first hand. Working alongside 40 of their Chinese peers from 12 of Chongqing's colleges, the students learned specific work-related skills from each other and showcased their talents in engineering, construction, catering, digital media, hairdressing and beauty therapy.

That visit coincided with strategic meetings between a delegation of college principals from Wales and Chongqinq together with senior representatives from both the Wales and Chongqing Governments and partners including the British Council and ColegauCymru. Arising from these discussions, the seeds of a Wales' Colleges Consortium were sown.

The Consortium Chair is Bryn Davies, principal of Ystrad Mynach College, who takes on the chairmanship of the consortium just two weeks after stepping down as Chair of the ColegauCymru Board.

Bryn Davies said: "The skills exchange earlier this year between Wales and China was just the beginning. We need to ensure that we can make the most of the exciting opportunities that this link between the colleges of Wales and Chongqing offers. Both countries have much to learn from one another.

"I am looking forward to working with colleges across Wales over the coming months to develop firm, productive and sustainable partnerships with our college peers in Chongqing. Through the Consortium we will harness the expertise of colleges in Wales to assist in the ambitious economic and social expansion of Chongqing by providing relevant training, tailored courses, consultancy and other support.

"The key focus for Chongqing is to raise the skills levels of the workforce including its burgeoning migrant population. The key focus for Wales is to establish an international mindset among our learners, broadening their horizons and improving their employment opportunities both in Wales and in the global marketplace.

"This really is a key moment for skills' education in Wales."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. The further education institutions involved in the consortium are:
Ystrad Mynach College
Coleg Morgannwg
Gower College Swansea
Coleg Glan Hafren (soon to merge with Barry College)
Coleg Gwent
Coleg Powys
Coleg Llandrillo Cymru
Deeside College
Yale College Wrexham
Coleg Harlech/WEA North Wales
Barry College (soon to merge with Coleg Glan Hafren)
WEA South Wales

3. The consortium is investing in a Mandarin-speaking FE representative in Chongqing, China who will be based in the Welsh Government office in Chongqing. The FE representative in Chongqing will be supported by an advisory group comprising local colleges, local business, the British Council and the Welsh Government.
4. Photographs available:
Meeting between Wales' college principals, Director of Education Commission, Chongqing and Chinese college principals on 2 March 2011 – It was these discussions that inspired Wales' college to develop a Wales Consortium
On behalf of the Wales delegation in China, Nick Bennett (ColegauCymru Vice Chair and Principal of Gower College Swansea) signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Chongqing Vocational Institute of Engineering (VIE) in the opening ceremony of the skills exchange on 3 March 2011.

The Chongqing/Wales link:
5. The Chongqing/Wales link was established in 2000 through the personal recommendation of Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Wales.
6. The first Memorandum of Understanding between Chongqing and Wales was signed in 2006.
7. A number of areas for potential collaboration were identified and there was a signing of a formal Cooperation Agreement in 2008.
8. The relationship has gone from strength to strength and now embraces collaboration in economic development, environment and climate change, science and technology, forestry and agriculture, education, health, art and culture.
Chongqing, China:
9. Chongqing is located in South West China and is the largest of 4 municipalities in China with over 31 million people (7 million reside in the city).
10. It is a modern city with more than 3,000 years of history and is called "Yu" for short; it is also known as Fog City and Mountain City.
11. It is 5,309 miles (as the crow flies) from London Heathrow to Chongqing City.
12. It is currently undergoing a plan for urban and rural development up until 2020.

Welsh Wonder Woman Inspires at VQ Awards

VQ Day is about recognising and celebrating success. VQ Day 2011 - or Vocational Qualifications Day – is hosted by Welsh ultra-marathon runner and TV personality Lowri Morgan at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on 22 June 2011. Be there to watch skills masterclasses, take part in 'have-a-go' sessions and be inspired at the VQ Learner of the Year Award ceremony.

Individuals who are using their vocational qualifications to inspire others and who are achieving beyond their peers will be the focus of the VQ Learner of the Year Award Ceremony.

And who better to host the Award Ceremony in the company of the six inspiring finalists and try her hand at 'have-a-go' skills sessions than Welsh wonder woman Lowri Morgan. Together, they'll make a veritable crowd of amazing individuals who grab life with both hands.

Lowri is an accomplished singer, musician and award-winning TV presenter. But above all that, she is the Welsh ultra-marathon runner who earlier this year won what must be the toughest event on the ultra marathon calendar, the 6633 Ultra: a non-stop self sufficient race over a distance of 350 miles in a frozen world where average daily temperatures are -25C. She faced eight days in severe Arctic conditions. She not only won the race, but was the only person to reach the finishing line - her fellow competitors dropped out three days before the end.

On top of the have-a-go sessions, masterclasses and VQ Learner of the Year Awards Ceremony, students, trainees and members of the public will be invited to quiz Lowri on her motivations, her trials, her tribulations and her role as VQ ambassador.

Joining Lowri will be the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert AM, the Chair of the National Training Federation for Wales Arwyn Watkins, and the Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales David Jones.

Also on stage at the Awards Ceremony will be the six inspirational finalists who are proving themselves to be a cut above their peers. They are:

  • Benjamin Morgan, a 20 year old motor vehicle student at Deeside College who has coped with serious personal upheavals and still achieved beyond his peers. He was recently named "FE Learner of the Year" by City & Guilds and received a prestigious Lion Award in Buckingham Palace. This was a crowning glory, having previously been awarded a City & Guilds Medal of Excellence. His employer, a garage owner in Flintshire, says Ben is his 'best employee to date' and entrusts Ben to run the workshop when he's away.
  • Christopher Lewis, who achieved top grades in his level 3 studies at Bridgend College and was instrumental in the development of student-led elements of his course, inspiring both staff and students. He was awarded the college's overall student Award for Commitment to Study and played a key role in the college achieving the national Beacon Award for Science. Still a young man, he has shouldered longstanding family responsibilities while working in retail management to support his future degree studies in Forensic Science.
  • David Bowen, a web design student at Coleg Sir Gâr who is on a busy schedule, preparing to represent the UK at the WorldSkills 2011 competition in October. He is one of only two competitors from Wales to be selected for the UK Squad and he has been honing his competition skills at national events in France and shortly in Australia. Despite his jet-setting and his ambassadorial role in motivating up and coming potential WorldSkills competitors of the future, he still finds time to study and to work for a web design company.
  • Eleri Evans - an unconventional and distinctive plasterer. A single mother of three, she first tried her hand at other things before finding her true vocation. She started investing in her future once her children started school. By now, she works as a full-time plasterer, she has achieved qualifications at level 3 at Neath Port Talbot College through Pathways Training, and she's been congratulated by The Plaisterers' Company for coming in the top four in the search for the UK Plastering Student of the Year.
  • Luke Thomas, a 17 year old catering student who only completed his studies at Connah's Quay High School and Yale College Wrexham last year but who's already cooked for Prince Charles and been crowned Future Chef of the Year. Aiming to be the youngest Michelin starred chef in the world, Luke has already worked at the premier Barbados resort, Sandy Lane. In addition, during his time with the Individual Restaurant Company he secured placements at some of the top-rated restaurants in the world, including two and three Michelin-starred restaurants in Denmark, USA and the UK.
  • Melissa Jenkins, who moved on to study a BA degree in Photography at Bridgend College, having previously achieved top marks on her level 3 diploma. Her work has been published in What Digital Camera?, Sublime and various national magazines whilst she set up her own freelance fashion photography business and shooting top designers' new collections for London Fashion Week. Her prize for winning the Nikon UK Student of the Year foundation award includes working with John Wright, one of the world's leading fashion and advertising photographers.

VQ Ambassador Lowri Morgan said: "It's a privilege to be part of VQ Day as a VQ ambassador and host for the celebration on 22 June. I'm especially looking forward to hosting the VQ Learner of the Year 2011 award ceremony and learning of the achievements of Wales' home grown talents, made possible through vocational qualifications, hard work, dedication and drive.

"In addition, I'm delighted that my own story, testing myself to the limits, taking risks and persevering through to success might serve as inspiration for others. On VQ Day, I'll be highlighting the key highs and lows on the path my recent success in the Arctic ultra marathon. And after that, I'll put myself to the test again, as I'll be having a go at learning new vocational skills as part of the Have-a-go skills session. There's no letting the cat out of the bag yet. I have no idea what challenge I will have to face."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. VQ Day is a UK-wide celebration of vocational successes. In Wales, VQ Day is supported by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the National Training Federation for Wales and the Welsh Government. Coordination of VQ Day at a UK level is provided by Edge, an independent education foundation. Further information is available from the following websites:
www.vqday.org.uk
www.ntfw.org
www.collegeswales.ac.uk
www.edge.co.uk

2. The programme for VQ Day at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on 22 June 2011 is as follows:
10:00 Have-a-go skills sessions open to pupils, students, trainees and members of the public (as well as Lowri Morgan and the Deputy Minister for Skills)
11:00 Question and Answer session with Lowri Morgan
11:30 VQ Awards with Jeff Cuthbert AM, Deputy Minister for Skills
11.45 More Have-a-go opportunities and skills masterclasses
13:00 Event closes

3. The event is open to the public and press and is free to attend.

4. For press enquiries and media opportunities in Welsh and/or English contact Sylvia Davies T: 029 2052 2500 M: 0796 771913 E: Sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk

5. For further information about Lowri Morgan, her achievements, photographs or to book an interview with her, please contact SPEAKERS UNLIMITED's Mari Waddington M: 07979 840740 E: marielin77_2@hotmail.com or Sheila Willicombe T: 01792 536120 M: 0781 3920734 E: sheila@speakersunlimited.co.uk

New Chair for College Body

David Jones, principal of Deeside College, has been appointed Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

Since being appointed principal and chief executive of Deeside College seven years ago, the college has been transformed. It has been awarded the highest possible grades by Estyn – Her Majesty's Inspectorate - for all of its further education as well as work-based learning provision: the first college in Wales to do so. The college is also growing and investing and providing for more and more students. Over recent years the college has merged with two landbased colleges and now, the Deeside College Group of Colleges is comprised of: Deeside College, Northop College, Coleg Llysfasi and Wrexham Training.

David's commitment to quality has led the college to win the Wales Quality Award and European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and to him chairing the ColegauCymru Improving Quality and Reducing Bureaucracy Group. Four years ago, David won the Leading Wales Award for the Public Sector Leader.

A champion of the Welsh language and culture, David was a significant influence on the development and adoption of ColegauCymru's National Strategy for Bilingualism in Further Education.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I'm delighted that David Jones is the new Chair of ColegauCymru. David is a strong leader; he is dynamic and always ready to challenge the status quo, continually driving for excellence.

"He takes up this two year post at an exciting time for post-16 education and training. Colleges face many challenges in widening access, raising standards, contributing to the social and economic well-being of Wales and improving the delivery of learning bilingually and through the medium of Welsh. I very much look forward to working with David in meeting these challenges".

David Jones said: "I am delighted and privileged to have the opportunity to Chair ColegauCymru. My priorities over the next two years will be to work with John Graystone and the ColegauCymru team, Board Members and college Principals to build on the excellent work over recent years. We need to ensure that the entire further education college sector continues to improve, and raise standards, as we all strive for excellence within our individual colleges, and build on ColegauCymru's status as the voice of FE in Wales".

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit http://www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. David Jones was appointed Chair at the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 25 May 2011 at the Hilton Hotel Cardiff. Details of the composition of the Board are available from Who-we-are

3. More information on the Leading Wales Awards is available from http://www.leadingwalesawards.com/

4. More information on the Deeside College Group of Colleges is available from http://www.deeside.ac.uk

Top performing colleges and learners awarded

At a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel Cardiff on 26 May, outstanding learners and teachers were recognised as the top performers across colleges in Wales, and seven colleges were awarded for driving improvements that benefit learners.

ColegauCymru's Annual Awards recognise outstanding achievements by learners, teachers and colleges and the quality of submissions for the ColegauCymru Awards 2011 was notably high. The judging panels were very impressed, noting that the colleges had "raised the bar" this year.

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "On the day that the Education Minister Leighton Andrews congratulated colleges for responding to the Welsh Government's agenda for change, it was fitting that the evening ended with showcases of the very best of college practices.

"Congratulations to all the winners. These awards ensure that best practice is properly recognised. The awards are also central to colleges' continual efforts to raise standards across the board by learning from the best."

The winners are:

  • Effective use of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) to engage employers: Deeside College
  • Digital learning resources: Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Effective leadership in the delivery of skills: Coleg Morgannwg
  • Outstanding practice in maintaining and improving quality: Coleg Llandrillo Cymru
  • Innovation in responding to the learner voice: Coleg Gwent
  • Outstanding use of technology: The College Ystrad Mynach
  • Innovative use of curriculum planning to meet collaborative arrangements: Neath Port Talbot College

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "In addition to the seven categories of ColegauCymru Awards 2011 open to colleges, the ColegauCymru Awards 2011 also recognised two individuals: a Learner of the Year and a Teacher of the Year.

Dr John Graystone said: "It is important that we remember at all times that the purpose of colleges is to support learners in reaching their goals. Excellent teachers are key to enabling learners achieve, and it is right that they are recognised on the national stage. Congratulations to Maria McCarthy of Coleg Glan Hafren, who was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award against a very strong shortlist.

"Outstanding learners are of course the success story of colleges. Congratulations to joint winners James Fraser, Barry College and Shane Evans, Coleg Sir Gâr in winning the Learner of the Year Award. They are both outstanding role models."

Dr Graystone continued: "The ColegauCymru Awards 2011 not only benefit learners but also have a clear value to a wide range of highly-respected national organisations. We are delighted to have received sponsorship and strong support once again this year from: Agored Cymru, City & Guilds/ILM, Edexcel, Learndirect, Lifelong Learning UK, OCR Cymru, WJEC, and Tribal Education."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. The awards ceremony took place in the evening of 26 May 2011 at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.
3. Photographs of the award winners are available on request.
4. The categories of the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2011 and their sponsors:

Awards for Individuals
Learner of the year (ColegauCymru / CollegesWales)
Teacher of the year (LLUK)

Awards for Institutions
Effective use of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) to engage employers (Agored Cymru)
Digital learning resources (WJEC)
Effective leadership in the delivery of skills (City & Guilds / ILM)
Outstanding practice in maintaining and improving quality (Tribal)
Innovation in responding to the learner voice (OCR Cymru)
Outstanding use of technology (Learndirect)
Innovative use of curriculum planning to meet collaborative arrangements (Edexcel)

Top Money Tips Win Students Canary Wharf Prize

The winners of the Money Tips Wales competition announced today will be joined by Money Tips winners from across the UK at Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, for an insight into how to make it to the top.

The winning entries for the three competition categories: Money Tip for Wales, Money Tip for Colleges, Money Tip for Individuals are:

  • Money Tip for Wales: "Supermarkets should reduce packaging and the cost of shopping by providing dispensing machines for dry foods such as pasta, rice and sugar that customers could dispense into coded containers". (Winners: Deeside College students Suzannah, Suzanne and Jakki.)
  • Money Tip for Colleges: "Colleges should reduce the cost of studies for students by holding second-hand textbook sales, which would have the added benefits of reducing waste and raising money to buy new books". (Winner: Merthyr Tydfil College student, Carl Mahoney.)
  • Money Tip for Individuals: "Live within your means by paying bills on time to avoid interest payments, keeping track of what you spend in a note book and storing receipts and bills to keep on top of them." (Winner: Alex Williams, Gower College Swansea.)

The Money Tips competition is the culmination of the Barclays Money Skills Week programme of events which has given thousands of college students across Wales useful tips and tools on money management in a range of fun activities including 'style on a budget', 'shopping basket challenge', a taste test called 'the taste of money' and 'family money tips'.

Programme Manager for Money Skills Weeks in Wales, ColegauCymru's Berni Tyler, said: "Thousands of students from 14 further education colleges in Wales have been on a huge learning curve thanks to Money Week this year. They have looked at how to budget and how to save – critical life skills that will help them on their way through education and into employment.

"A Canary Wharf prize is a phenomenal end to this year's Money Week activities. I'm delighted for the five winning students, who have demonstrated that they can apply their learning and think outside the box."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously called fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. Barclays Money Skills 'weeks' have been designed to give students an awareness of personal finance issues and to provide them with some tools to control their budget. Supported by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and others across the UK, Barclays in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services have worked to deliver the learning week at 150 colleges throughout Britain. www.barclaysmoneyskills.com
3. Colleges in Wales that participated in the Money Tips competition:
Barry College
Coleg Ceredigion
Coleg Glan Hafren
Coleg Llandrillo Cymru
Coleg Powys
Coleg Sir Gâr
Deeside College
Gower College Swansea
Merthyr Tydfil College
Neath Port Talbot College
Pembrokeshire College
Saint David's Catholic College
Yale College Wrexham
Ystrad Mynach College

4. Competition winners were announced by Kathy Brown, Barclays' Community Investment Manager, on 9 May at an event in Cardiff organised by the National Skills Academy for Financial Services.
5. Interesting tips and more about the event are published on www.twitter.com/CollegesWales and #moneytipsWales #moneyweek.

Future Excellence: the 'must have' for colleges

"Future Excellence", the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual conference on 26 May in Cardiff, could not be more timely. Skills shortages, college mergers, WorldSkills London 2011, two independent reports on further education in Wales, and a new Assembly with greater powers will form the backdrop to challenging speeches and engaging workshops.

Key conference speakers will include:

  • the new Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Education who will be expected to set out a vision for education and training for the new Assembly term
  • Huw Jones, Deputy Chair of the Wales Employment and Skills Board, whose reports on the skills needs of businesses including Welsh language skills need to acted upon swiftly
  • Marion Plant OBE, Principal of North Warwickshire and Hinckley College whose college has been highly successful in mentoring learners through to international skills competitions including WorldSkills
  • Andrew Goodall, chief executive of the Aneurin Bevan NHS Board, which has been through a major restructuring with important lessons for the college sector

Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru said: "I am delighted with the senior line-up of key speakers at the 'Future Excellence' conference. Colleges are committed to continually raising standards and exploring new ways to improve their responsiveness to the communities they serve. The Welsh Assembly Government has acknowledged that colleges have managed a series of challenging budgets and calls to transform the post-16 education and training sector highly effectively.

"So far so good. But it doesn't stop there. Independent reports commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government have called for even more college mergers, still more collaborations with a wide range of partners, and a new model of college governance.

"For the sake of their learners and their local communities as well as the wider economy, 'future excellence' is a 'must-have' for colleges. Colleges have to plan for major structural change and deliver high quality job-ready skills in a fast moving economy to hundreds of thousands of learners at all ages from 14 years upwards and all levels from basic literacy to degrees and professional qualifications."

Dr Graystone concluded: "The conference speakers both from the platform and in the workshops will I'm certain be challenging and inspiring, and the discussions that will begin at the conference are expected to lead to real changes in colleges and their partner bodies."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 2500.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously called fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The conference will be held on 26 May 2011 at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.

Colleges Invest in Welsh Skills

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is creating a new senior post to increase the Welsh language skills that colleges and their students as well as employers are demanding.

The post, a Director of Bilingualism, is the latest in a string of developments aimed at enabling further education colleges to build their capacity to offer Welsh-medium skills' provision.

Led by ColegauCymru, all FE colleges have adopted a National Strategy for Bilingualism in Further Education. Over the course of 2010, ColegauCymru supported colleges in putting the Strategy into action with bespoke solutions, reflecting the different needs of their local communities.

In addition, ColegauCymru has been working closely with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Language Board to improve the measuring and monitoring of Welsh-medium skills development without adding more red tape.

Now, ColegauCymru is creating a dedicated post to ensure that colleges' efforts are supported at national, regional and local levels. Key tasks for the Director of Bilingualism include:

  • improving the availability of qualifications through the medium of Welsh
  • building the capacity of teachers to teach through the medium of Welsh in the post-14 and post-16 education sector especially in vocational and technical areas of expertise
  • helping learners to continue to develop their Welsh language skills when they progress from one type of provider to another.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Colleges across Wales are showing their strong commitment to developing a bilingual nation. Every year colleges develop more resources and deliver more courses through the medium of Welsh and bilingually both to their own students and also to school pupils through their school link partnerships. In addition, they readily embraced the recent opportunity to apply for financial support to employ one of four new Bilingual Champions for further education."

Progressing from school to college, from college to university and from college into the workplace is a key issue for learners who wish to develop their Welsh language skills.

Dr Graystone continued: "The Director of Bilingualism will be tasked with working with all of the colleges' key partners, including schools, higher education institutions and employers.

"Colleges have already started to work more closely with the higher education sector and I'm delighted that the new Board of Directors of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol includes two appointments from the further education sector. I would like to congratulate the eleven learners from further education colleges who have been successful in their applications for the first tranche of scholarships offered by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to study through the medium of Welsh at Higher Education Institutions.

"The further education sector is well known for its resourcefulness and flexibility. The Director of Bilingualism is a landmark post that forms part of the further education sector's response to the need to improve Welsh-medium and bilingual education and training."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was previously called fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Further information and an application pack for the post of Director of Bilingualism are available from http://bit.ly/fwfg2x The deadline for application is 4 May 2011.

3. The Welsh Assembly Government has committed to providing financial support for the next three years for the appointment of four Bilingual Champions at the following colleges:
Yale College Wrexham
Coleg Ceredigion
Coleg Glan Hafren/Barry College/YMCA Community College/WEA(S)
Coleg Gwent

4.. The successful candidate will work closely with all of the Bilingual Champions and with the Sgiliaith Centre which offers training and development support on bilingualism to Further Education colleges.

5. Appointments to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Board of Directors include Dr Ian Rees, Vice Principal of Coleg Llandrillo Cymru, and Linda Wyn, Vice Principal of Coleg Menai.

6. The list of successful applicants to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol scholarships is available from http://bit.ly/hIxn2g

Colleges Chief Awarded Chancellor's Medal

It is with great delight that ColegauCymru / CollegesWales announces that its Chief Executive, Dr John Graystone, has been awarded the University of Glamorgan Chancellor's Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to education.

John Graystone has led a distinguished career in further and higher education, specialising in policy development and college governance relevant to the college sector in Wales. He has been chief executive of ColegauCymru – the national body that represents all further education colleges and institutions in Wales - for the last ten years.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I am greatly honoured and privileged to have been awarded the Chancellor's Medal by the University of Glamorgan. Over recent years, the post-16 sector has faced many challenges and the developing partnerships between further and higher education have the prime aim of delivering improvements for learners.

"I am particularly pleased to receive this award from the University of Glamorgan which has consistently maintained close partnerships with further education colleges and which has always sought to meet the education and training needs of its local communities.

"I thank the Chancellor and the University of Glamorgan's Conferments Board for this honour and look forward to continuing the very healthy relationship that is being developed between the further and higher education sectors in Wales."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Dr Graystone was awarded the University of Glamorgan Chancellor's Medal by the Rt Hon, the Lord Morris of Aberavon KG QC, Chancellor of the University, at the University's Annual Report Presentation, which was held at the university's Treforest Campus on 4 April 2011.

Listening to College Learners

As the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual awards 2011 enter the last stage in the judging process, colleges are keen to demonstrate their commitment to listening to their learners and delivering in their best interests.

The strongest competition in the categories open to colleges this year is 'Innovation in Responding to the Learner Voice'.

Berni Tyler, Head of Quality and Standards at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales said: "Colleges are increasingly involving students in decisions and are taking very seriously their commitment to respond to the 'learner voice'.

"Over the course of the last year, colleges have stepped up their efforts to involve students. For example, delegates at this year's National Union of Students' conference saw a record number of college staff and student delegates. Staff have attended training sessions to help them support college Students' Unions and Sabbatical Officers. Colleges are also working hard to safeguard learners through learning from best practice. In addition, student governors have participated in a bespoke training programme to ensure that they are able to participate fully in college decision-making."

Commenting on the record number of entries for the Annual Awards 2011, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "There is a growing confidence in the college sector. Estyn – Her Majesty's Inspectorate in Wales – has shown that colleges are delivering high quality leadership, teaching, learning, student support and financial management. In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government and two independent reports have recently commended the performance of college governors and complimented colleges on their efforts to collaborate with other providers for the benefit of learners.

"But further education colleges are not complacent. All are committed to continue to raise their levels of performance. This strong commitment to high quality has translated into more entries by a greater number of colleges for the ColegauCymru annual awards 2011. Significantly, no one college has a monopoly on high quality. A record 15 colleges from across Wales have been shortlisted for the nine award categories this year."

Dr Graystone concluded: "The ColegauCymru awards ceremony is a lively celebration of the best that Wales' colleges can offer. ColegauCymru is delighted to have received sponsorship for the awards from a number of influential bodies and I am very much looking forward to the ceremony on 26 May where the awards' sponsors will announce the winners".

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The award categories 2011 and sponsors are:
Effective use of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) to engage employers (Agored Cymru)
Digital Learning Resources (WJEC/ NGfL)
Effective leadership in the delivery of skills (City & Guilds /ILM)
Outstanding practice in the maintaining and improving of quality (Tribal)
Innovation in responding to the 'learner voice' (OCR)
Outstanding use of technology (UfI/learndirect)
Innovative use of curriculum planning (Edexcel)
Learner of the Year (ColegauCymru / CollegesWales)
Teacher of the Year (LLUK)

3. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the ColegauCymru Annual Conference on 26 May 2011 at The Hilton Hotel, Cardiff. To sponsor the conference or exhibit at the Annual Conference and FE Governors' Conference (held on 25 May 2011 also at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff) please contact Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or email Sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk

4. Shortlisted colleges are: Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Sir Gâr, St David's Catholic College, Yale College Wrexham, Coleg Gwent, Coleg Morgannwg, Deeside College, Bridgend College, Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Pembrokeshire College, Neath Port Talbot College, Gower College Swansea, Barry College, Coleg Glan Hafren.

5. Estyn's inspection reports are available from www.estyn.gov.uk

6. Two recent independent reports have commended colleges:
The Independent Task and Finish Group Report on The Structure of Education Services in Wales was commissioned by Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, in autumn 2010. The report was made public by the Minister on 29 March 2011, together with a Ministerial Statement. Further information on the Task and Finish Group, its remit and responses to its consultation are available from: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/wagreviews/educationservicesreview/?lang=en The Report is available from: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/110328structureofservicesen.pdf
The Independent Review of Governance Arrangements for Further Education Institutions in Wales was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and conducted by an independent task and finish group which was Chaired by Mr Rob Humphreys, Director for Wales at the Open University. A copy of the report of the Review is available from: http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/wagreviews/fegovreview/?lang=en

Colleges Welcome Far-Reaching Report

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales welcomes the publication of the Independent Task and Finish Group Report on The Structure of Education Services in Wales (the Thomas Review).

The Report is long, thorough and far-reaching. It considers schools, further education, work-based learning, and adult and community learning provision. It assesses 'who does what where' and calls for greater clarity from the Welsh Assembly Government on the mission of education and its providers. A number of its key concerns chime with the issues highlighted in ColegauCymru's manifesto for the forthcoming National Assembly for Wales elections.

The Report calls on schools and colleges to work more closely together to ensure learners aged 14-19 are offered 'real opportunity and choice'. It commends FE colleges for achieving beyond the quality targets that the Welsh Assembly Government set for the sector, and believes that colleges are willing and able to deliver even for 14-19 year olds if given the opportunity. It says:

  • 'FE needs to show its talent, its capacity and capability to demonstrate on a larger public canvas what it can and does do for post 14 and post 16 learners in collaboration with educational providers.'

The Report also recognises the significant mergers that have already taken place between colleges and the innovative collaborations currently underway between colleges and universities, and calls for this trend to continue.

Turning to adult learners and the workforce, the Report identifies the FE sector as a 'significant and valuable partner' in economic development and a 'critical component in the engine of prosperity' which must be sustained, together with colleges' work in delivering tailor-made programmes for business.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The Report is very carefully researched and its recommendations are backed with clear evidence. I am delighted that the Report recognises the high quality and 'dynamism' that exists in FE colleges and that it recommends that colleges be given greater opportunities to share good practice and develop solutions with wider audiences.

"The Report calls for a focus on literacy and numeracy (basic skills) and notes that colleges have to divert significant public resource on raising the basic skills levels of new students. This chimes with the ColegauCymru manifesto published in advance of the National Assembly for Wales elections.

"I am also pleased that the Report recognises that FE colleges are keen to collaborate with others for the benefit of learners and that it notes the determinism within the FE sector to develop more opportunities for learning through the medium of Welsh."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The Independent Task and Finish Group Report on The Structure of Education Services in Wales was commissioned by Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, in autumn 2010. The report was made public by the Minister on 29 March 2011, together with a Ministerial Statement. Further information on the Task and Finish Group, its remit and responses to its consultation are available from: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/wagreviews/educationservicesreview/?lang=en The Report is available from: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/110328structureofservicesen.pdf


A Manifesto for Learners

Enabling learners to succeed and the economy to thrive are the key outcomes sought by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in its manifesto for the National Assembly for Wales' elections.

The ColegauCymru manifesto calls on Assembly Candidates to support:

  • more learning opportunities
  • a focus on raising basic skills
  • positive promotion of vocational routes
  • a continuum of learning with greater flexibility through to higher levels
  • efficient and effective administration
  • a professional structure for the FE workforce.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Education and training is a gateway to employment and improved self esteem. But too many individuals are blocked from reaching their goals. The economy of Wales is suffering and learners are facing challenges because:

  • the demand for learning is higher than the funding allows for
  • a lack of basic skills holds many learners back
  • too many still struggle to achieve well at GCSE level (level 2)
  • continuing pressure to value academic qualifications over and above all other qualification types
  • serves to demotivate many and leads to underachievement
  • more local and part-time opportunities are needed at higher education (level 4+) and all
  • educational institutions need to embrace partnership in the interests of learners
  • too much funding is focused on unnecessary regulation.

Dr Graystone concluded: "The ColegauCymru manifesto for the Assembly elections proposes ways of unblocking the system, enabling individuals to succeed and the economy to thrive within a challenging financial period. I very much hope that Assembly candidates embrace the solutions put forward in the ColegauCymru manifesto and visit their local colleges to meet students and staff."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. Elections to the National Assembly for Wales take place on 5 May 2011.


Future-proofing Further Education

The Independent Review of Governance Arrangements for Further Education Institutions in Wales has published a thought provoking report that contains a number of sound recommendations as well as some challenging recommendations that will now be consulted upon.

The Review team was given the task of considering how the governance of FE colleges could address economic, social and demographic challenges, as well as structural changes to the post-16 education sector being driven by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I am delighted that the report recognises colleges' central role in promoting economic prosperity and social justice. The report praises colleges on their high level of performance over recent years. It makes it clear that the purpose of the review was not to question the high performance of colleges, but rather to future-proof their governance structures in a changing external environment.

"The Welsh Assembly Government and the review have concluded that colleges have responded well to the Welsh Assembly Government's strategy to transform the post-16 education landscape. The review attempted to enable governance structures to catch up with this evolution of larger colleges which are working in a large number of formal collaborations.

"Taken as a whole, the report is interesting and stimulating. It includes sound recommendations that we look forward to putting into practice. It also includes some possibly controversial recommendations that will be challenging to implement and raises some important questions.

"The principles, practicality and detail within the recommendations will need to be given full consideration. We are therefore pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government has today announced that there will be a period of consultation before it decides which of the Review's recommendations will be taken forward.

"Colleges are looking forward to playing a positive and constructive role in the forthcoming consultation period."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The Independent Review of Governance Arrangements for Further Education Institutions in Wales was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and conducted by an independent task and finish group which was Chaired by Mr Rob Humphreys, Director for Wales at the Open University. A copy of the report of the Review is available from: http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/wagreviews/fegovreview/?lang=en

3. In a Ministerial Statement issued to accompany the report, Leighton Andrews, the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, said: "The recommendations within this report will now be subject to formal public consultation which will commence on 28 March 2011 and will be published on the Assembly Government's website. The consultation will last for 3 months and decisions on the recommendations will be made after the consultation period has ended. Until this time, it is not possible for me to pre-empt which recommendations will be taken forward."

Wales-China Skills Exchange Success

College students and staff are buzzing with new ideas on returning from the first ever China-Wales skills exchange that took place in the fastest growing city in the world: Chongqing, China.

Ten Welsh students from six colleges across Wales worked alongside 40 of their Chinese peers from 12 of Chongqing's colleges, learning from each other on specific work-related skills and showcasing their talents in engineering, construction, catering, digital media, hairdressing and beauty therapy.

It was a fantastic learning experience for the Welsh delegation, which had been coordinated by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and financed and supported by the British Council.

Head of Creative Industries at Coleg Gwent, Hayley Wilce, who acted as joint coordinator of the Welsh skills exchange delegation on behalf of ColegauCymru, said: "The students were great ambassadors for Wales. They worked hard to demonstrate their skills to their Chinese counterparts and also learned a lot in return from the Chinese students' demonstrations.

"It was an eye-opener to see the creativeness of the Chinese, but also interesting to learn of their skills gaps. I gained a huge amount from this experience and I'm looking forward to being able to share my experiences and explore new ideas with college staff across Wales."

Hayley's fellow coordinator, Darren Rodrigues, Engineering Programmes Manager at Gower College Swansea, said: "I feel great pride when reflecting on the skills roadshow in Chongqing. What was just an idea last October was made a reality last week. This was as a result of collaboration between colleges, ColegauCymru, the British Council and thereafter by an exceptional group of students who were supported by excellent staff."

Neath Port Talbot construction student Emily Evans said: "I am very grateful to ColegauCymru and Neath Port Talbot College for the opportunity to visit Chongqing. It was a very challenging and busy week that enhanced my educational and cultural experience. Now, I feel my career aspirations do not just lie in the UK but also abroad. Not only did I experience new surroundings I also made numerous friends, both British and Chinese."

Coleg Gwent engineering student Rhys Webb, 19, from Risca said: "Visiting Chongqing was a life-changing experience. It was such a busy place full of sky-scrapers and new industry. The visit was hard work and very challenging but also hugely rewarding. My horizons have opened. I now have so many new ideas about where my future might take me."

China is now the second largest economy in the world. It is hugely entrepreneurial and packed with cutting-edge industries. Chongqing – a city in the south west with a population of 7 million in a municipality of 31 million - has huge ambitions. It already produces one-third of all laptops in the world and one-third of all motorcycles in China. It is in addition aiming to be the world's IT centre.

Wales and its colleges have the potential to learn a lot from Chongqing and expand Welsh students' views of their place in the world economy. The visit also provided the participating students with opportunities to make an impression on their Chinese hosts, experience the skills that are valued in China, and find out about booming Chinese industries first hand.

Chongqing's huge ambitions bring particular challenges. It is expanding on a scale unimaginable in Wales. It needs to integrate and train around 8 million migrant workers moving from the country to newly created jobs. Hence it is keen to develop partnerships with Wales' further education colleges to benefit from their solid track record in developing relevant vocational skills and their expertise in working with industry.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The skills exchange between Wales and China is just the beginning. We need to ensure that we can make the most of the exciting opportunities that this link between the colleges of Wales and Chongqing offers. Both countries have much to learn from one another.

"Following on from the hugely successful Wales-China skills exchange, I am looking forward to working with colleges across Wales over the coming months to develop firm, productive and sustainable partnerships with our college peers in Chongqing for the benefit of our students."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. The British Council Chongqing organised the programme and funded the visit. The programme also benefitted from the presence of the Welsh Assembly Government which has worked hard to develop close working partnerships between Wales and Chongqing.
3. In addition to the skills exchange, senior-level meetings for the following representatives took place during the visit: college principals from Wales and China, British Council Southwest China, British Council Wales, Education Commission (Chongqing).
skills exchange:
4. ColegauCymru coordinated the visit in conjunction with British Council Chongqing and staff from the six participating FE colleges: Coleg Gwent, Neath Port Talbot College, Gower College Swansea, Coleg Llandrillo, Yale College Wrexham, Pembrokeshire College. The participating students represent a wide range of vocational areas including: beauty therapy, catering, construction, electronics, engineering and the media.
5. The visit, funded by the British Council, took place in the first week of March 2011, coinciding with the Welsh Assembly Government-funded Wales Week and St David's Day celebrations in Chongqing.
6. The skills exchange grew out of a visit to Chongqing by International Managers from six FE colleges in Wales in October 2010.
The Chongqing/Wales link:
7. The Chongqing/Wales link was established in 2000 through the personal recommendation of Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Wales.
8. The first Memorandum of Understanding between Chongqing and Wales was signed in 2006.
9. A number of areas for potential collaboration were identified and there was a signing of a formal Cooperation Agreement in 2008.
10. The relationship has gone from strength to strength and now embraces collaboration in economic development, environment and climate change, science and technology, forestry and agriculture, education, health, art and culture.
Chongqing, China:
11. Chongqing is located in South West China and is the largest of 4 municipalities in China with over 31 million people (7 million reside in the city).
12. It is a modern city with more than 3,000 years of history and is called "Yu" for short; it is also known as Fog City and Mountain City.
13. It is 5,309 miles (as the crow flies) from London Heathrow to Chongqing City. 14. It is currently undergoing a plan for urban and rural development up until 2020.

Colleges Welcome 'Yes' Vote

As a result of the 'yes' vote in the referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales on 3 March 2011, the Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, including education and training, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The outcome of the referendum should result in clearer lines of governmental responsibility and more of politicians' and government officials' time spent on making a difference to the people of Wales rather than bureaucratic paper shuffling between London and Cardiff."

"The devolution settlement that established the National Assembly for Wales in 1999 and which was subsequently amended by the Government of Wales Act in 2006 was particularly complicated. It was an uphill struggle to explain the intricacies of the referendum question and its potential outcomes to the public. But the principle of democracy is very important and I am very pleased to note that a number of colleges across Wales took an active part in raising awareness among students about the referendum by hosting events open to both 'yes' and 'no' campaigners to explain their views."

It will still be the case that responsibility outside of the 20 subject areas devolved to the Assembly remains with the UK Parliament. The result of the referendum therefore does not simply mean that the National Assembly for Wales will govern everything that has an effect on learners' education and training in Wales, given that the welfare system and fiscal policy for example remain the preserve of the UK Parliament.

Nevertheless, the 'yes' vote should clear some of the fog that surrounds the issue of legislative competence within the devolved areas and free-up the time of politicians and government officials to focus on delivering solutions to Wales' urgent education and training issues.

John Graystone concluded: "ColegauCymru is looking forward to continuing to work with the National Assembly for Wales in improving opportunities for learners in Wales. In particular, we urge the Assembly to focus on:

  • providing more post-16 learning opportunities
  • raising basic skills
  • promoting vocational routes positively
  • establishing a continuum of learning with greater flexibility through to higher levels
  • efficient and effective administration
  • raising the status of the teaching profession in further education."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

Wales' colleges in China for First Ever Skills Exchange

Further education college staff and students from across Wales are in China this week to swap expertise with their counterparts in Chongqing in the first official skills exchange between Wales and China, held to coincide with the Wales Week and St David's Day celebrations organised by the Welsh Assembly Government.

On a trip of a lifetime, ten college students from Wales will gain an insight into specific industries in China including the beauty industry, construction, electronics and engineering, catering and the media. College students from both Wales and Chongqing will demonstrate their skills in front of an audience and will also work together on particular skills to develop their respective knowledge. A massage; assembling an engine; installing power and lighting controls; photography techniques and award-winning digital stories give a flavour of the skills exchanges scheduled for 3 and 4 March. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has coordinated the visit in conjunction with the British Council Chongqing and the participating colleges.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, John Graystone, said: "I am proud to be part of a consortium of Wales' further education colleges on this landmark visit to Chongqing, China. The Wales delegation includes students who have considerable experience in skills competitions at senior levels, and among the accompanying staff are a WorldSkills judge and the Chair of Digital Stories Cymru.

"China is now the second largest economy in the world. Further education colleges across Wales are keen to ensure that students from Wales are given opportunities to make an impression on their Chinese hosts, experience the skills that are valued in China, and to learn about booming Chinese industries first hand.

Dr John Graystone concluded: "Alongside the skills exchange, further education college principals will use the visit to establish strategic partnerships with colleges in Chongqing. The high level delegation hopes to establish a solid working relationship between colleges in the two countries. Both countries have much to learn from each other and we hope a close working relationship between Chongqing and Wales will be of long-term mutual benefit to learners and staff."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913
Notes to editors
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.collegeswales.ac.uk or www.colegaucymru.ac.uk

The skills exchange:
International Managers from six FE colleges in Wales visited Chongqing in October 2010 where the idea of a student skills exchange was discussed and developed with British Council Chongqing.
The International Coordinator at ColegauCymru has coordinated the visit in conjunction with British Council Chongqing and staff from the six participating FE colleges: Coleg Gwent, Neath Port Talbot College, Gower College Swansea, Coleg Llandrillo, Yale College Wrexham, Pembrokeshire College.
The participating students represent a wide range of vocational areas including: beauty therapy, catering, construction, electronics, engineering and the media.
The visit, which is being funded by British Council Chongqing, takes place in the first week of March 2011, coinciding with the Welsh Assembly Government-funded Wales Week in Chongqing.

The Chongqing/Wales link:
The Chongqing/Wales link was established in 2000 through the personal recommendation of Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Wales.
The first Memorandum of Understanding between Chongqing and Wales was signed in 2006. A number of areas for potential collaboration were identified and there was a signing of a formal Cooperation Agreement in 2008. The relationship has gone from strength to strength and now embraces collaboration in economic development, environment and climate change, science and technology, forestry and agriculture, education, health, art and culture.

Chongqing, China:
Chongqing is located in South West China and is the largest of 4 municipalities in China with over 31 million people (7 million reside in the city).
It is a modern city with more than 3,000 years of history and is called "Yu" for short; it is also known as Fog City and Mountain City.
It is 5,309 miles ( as the crow flies) from London Heathrow to Chongqing City.
It is currently undergoing a plan for urban and rural development up until 2020.

Colleges Welcome Stability But Challenges Remain

In a context of challenging budgets, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has welcomed today's announcement by the Welsh Assembly Government of three year funding allocations to further education colleges in Wales, which will bring a measure of stability to the sector.

Core funding to further education (FE) colleges for the next academic year – 2011/12 - will reduce by 1.5% while additional funds to upskill adults and provide more Pathways to Apprenticeships will be maintained at the same level as this year. Adding all of the sums together means that the overall allocations to FE colleges will reduce by 1.4% next year.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, John Graystone, said: "Colleges in Wales have had to manage a series of tough budget settlements over recent years. The funding for 2011/12, announced today, will again require creative leadership and further tightening of belts.

"Together with the rest of the public sector, colleges had been expecting a tough funding settlement. Within that context, ColegauCymru is grateful that the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has listened to the concerns of colleges about the need for some stability in order to allow for greater strategic planning. The Minister's announcement of three year funding allocations and a review of the funding methodology are welcome."

In its annual report on the state of education in Wales, Estyn provided independent evidence that further education colleges are continuing to achieve well above the quality targets the Government has set for colleges. 91% of FE programmes have been judged to be good or outstanding. Estyn also judged colleges to offer good value for money.

John Graystone concluded: "Wales' colleges are recognised as good value and high quality institutions. Creative leaders and a drive to learn from best practice are key to their success. The funding allocations announced today will not be easy to manage but the degree of stability introduced through a three year funding settlement and the creativity and drive of colleges' leaders and managers will ensure that high quality teaching and learning will be maintained."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. The funding allocations to further education colleges were announced today, 4 Feb 2011, by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Colleges Welcome Ministerial Commitments

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales welcomed the Education Minister's "Teaching Makes a Difference" speech today on the future of education in Wales.

Over the last year, colleges have been raising concerns that a larger-than-expected proportion of learners arrive at college with basic skills deficits. Colleges were pleased to hear in today's speech that the Education Minister intends to focus strongly on basic skills, especially literacy and numeracy.

In addition, colleges welcomed the Minister's unequivocal commitment to providing more vocational opportunities to learners aged 14 and 16, and that the expanded curriculum should be achieved through partnership rather than competition.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Dr John Graystone, said: "We are pleased that the Education Minister reinforced his commitment to widening vocational opportunities to learners aged 14 and 16 through education providers working in effective partnerships."

Dr John Graystone concluded: "Colleges are keen to work with government, local authorities and schools in taking forward this important agenda. We all share a belief in the need to achieve and continually maintain high standards and we are all committed to driving Wales forward as a 'learning country'."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, delivered a speech entitled "Teaching Makes a Difference" on 2 February 2011 at the Reardon Smith Theatre, Cardiff. A copy of the speech is available from http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/educationandskills/2011/110202education/?version=1&lang=en

Colleges Achieve Way Above Target

Responding to the launch of Estyn's Annual Report on educational standards in Wales, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, John Graystone, said: "I am delighted that Estyn has provided independent evidence that further education colleges are continuing to achieve well above the quality targets the Government has set for colleges and that, in addition, they offer good value for money."

91% of FE programmes were judged to be good or outstanding compared to the national target of 65%.

In addition, key strengths identified in the report are colleges' involvement in networks of professional practice, continuous benchmarking against each other to secure further improvements, and a positive response to transforming the post-16 education sector. Improvements have also been noted in Welsh-medium and bilingual provision.

When it comes to partnerships with a range of other education providers, however, Estyn reports a more patchy picture.

Colleges accept Estyn's analysis that:

  • Partnerships with the schools sector to offer more vocational choices to the 14-19 cohort have not been as successful, and that
  • There is more work to do in further education colleges to develop Welsh-medium and bilingual provision in partnership with schools.

Over the last year, colleges have been raising concerns that a larger-than-expected proportion of learners arrive at college with basic skills deficits. It is even more concerning that this proportion includes learners who have attained good passes at GCSE level. ColegauCymru is pleased to note that Estyn identifies a need for an all-Wales and all-sector approach to basic skills testing.

John Graystone concluded: "Clearly, Estyn's Annual Report has applauded the incredible amount of positive work that FE colleges have achieved over the last few years, increasing quality whilst also dealing with funding challenges. But it is not good enough to have outstanding individual colleges in our midst. A postcode lottery in post-16 learning across Wales cannot be acceptable.

"ColegauCymru supports the call by Estyn for all sections of the education and skills sector, including the Welsh Assembly Government itself, to join forces to improve basic skills provision, widen opportunities for Welsh-speaking learners particularly in vocational subjects, and to develop more effective partnerships to deliver a wider choice of learning options more efficiently. Colleges have a clear track record of innovation and are ready to rise to the challenges identified by Estyn today in partnership with the whole of the education sector across Wales."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the new name for fforwm. It is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
The Estyn Annual Report 2009-10 is available from
http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/annual-report/2009-2010-annual-report/ or
http://www.estyn.gov.uk/cymraeg/adroddiad-blynyddol/adroddiad-blynddol-2009-2010/

Competition for Excellence in Further Education Announced

Strong competition between further education colleges is expected this year as the categories for the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2011 are opened to applications.

The annual awards aim to identify and celebrate excellence in the further education (FE) sector. They offer an opportunity to demonstrate excellence and best practice across a wide range of areas and form part of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales' drive to raise standards through self regulation.

The awards for further education colleges and institutions are:

  • Effective use of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) to engage employers
  • Digital learning resources
  • Effective leadership in the delivery of skills
  • Outstanding practice in the maintaining and improving of quality
  • Innovation in responding to the 'learner voice'
  • Outstanding use of technology
  • Innovative use of curriculum planning

In addition, two awards will recognise outstanding teaching and learning by individuals:

  • Teacher of the Year
  • Learner of the Year

Berni Tyler, Head of Quality and Standards at ColegauCymru / CollegesWales said: "The awards recognise outstanding achievement, highlight the breadth of provision in further education and celebrate collaboration between institutions and other organisations.

"ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is delighted to have received sponsorship for the awards from a number of influential bodies. They all recognise the keen competition that exists for the awards, and see the awards as a stimulus for improving quality across the whole of the sector."

A ceremony to announce the winners will coincide with the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales' Annual Conference dinner on 26 May 2011 in Cardiff.

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.collegeswales.ac.uk 2. Full details of the awards and application process can be found at: Annual Awards
3. Sponsors of the 2011 Awards:
Agored Cymru
City & Guilds/Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM)
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales
Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK)
UfI/Learndirect
WJEC/National Grid for Learning (NGfL)
Edexcel OCR
Tribal Education

4. The independent Panels judging the applications for the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2011 comprise of senior staff from influential bodies and are expected to include: Awarding Bodies Estyn Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) Tribal Education
5. The deadline for applications is 25 February 2011. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the ColegauCymru Annual Conference on 26 May 2011 at The Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.
6. To sponsor the conference or exhibit at the Annual Conference and FE Governors' Conference (held on 25 May 2011 also at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff) please contact Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or email Sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk