News Archive 2012

14/12/12: Wales' at the Ready for Young People's Money Skills Challenge

Hands up, who is confident about their skills in managing money? Now, hands up those of you who share your money management skills with your community to benefit a wider group of people. This is what the UK Money for Life Challenge is about, and ColegauCymru is delighted to report that Wales is on course once again to punch above its weight.

The Money for Life Challenge is Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme, targeted at young people and adults in the wider Further Education, work-based learning and community learning sectors across the UK.

Under the coordination of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales, 62 grants to teams of young people in learning settings across Wales have been allocated. These 62 teams now have the task of developing their money management ideas to UK-competition level by 8 March 2013. The best projects will go head to head to win a coveted place at the Wales and UK Grand Finals.

The Money for Life Challenge was first run in 2011/12, with 40 teams from Wales winning their bids for grant funding to develop money management projects. Thanks to the success of the Challenge across the UK, and especially in Wales, where the winning team from Wales went on to win the UK Grand Final, the Challenge is scaling up this year.

Project Manager for Wales, ColegauCymru's Julia Owens, said: "We've seen a great enthusiasm from young people and their learning mentors in coming up with all kinds of Money for Life Challenge projects. I am delighted to report that more learning centres are fielding teams this year, including colleges and independent training providers. In addition, Wales has won proportionately far more grants than the number allocated to the other UK nations. The competition is on!"

Sarah Porretta, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group, says: "The Money for Life Challenge is all about embedding money skills in communities across the UK, especially by equipping young people with the financial know-how they need to fulfil their potential. All of the teams who entered last year have played a huge role in helping us reach this goal with their originality, creativity and enthusiasm and I look forward to seeing more inspiring entries this year."
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 19 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. Money for Life is Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme, targeted at young people and adults in the wider Further Education, work-based learning and community learning sectors. Lloyds has invested £4 million in the programme to date and has committed a further £4 million over the next two years.
The Money for Life Qualifications programme provides accredited, fully-funded training to enable organisations to embed money management skills at a local level.
The Money for Life Challenge is a national competition that provides £500 grants to empower teams of 16-24 year olds to develop innovative money management projects that impact their communities.
Money for Life is also partnering with Family Action to train employees to deliver money management workshops to 1,500 vulnerable families in 2013.
Money for Life was awarded a Big Tick and was highly commended in Business in the Community's Awards for Excellence 2012, and was also awarded a special mention in the Independent newspaper's Peer Awards 2012.

Global Learning for Wales' Colleges

In the space of two weeks, ColegauCymru has been investigating opportunities, sharing good practice and participating in teaching and learning in India, China and Kuwait, and, this week the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium is hosting a senior level delegation from Chongqing, China.

The delegation comprises principals and deputy principals of primary, middle and vocational schools, and senior staff from Chongqing Education Commission of Sha Pingba District. It is the first official delegation from Chongqing to focus on vocational education.

In five days of their busy schedule, the Chinese delegation is learning about the post-16 education system in Wales at ColegauCymru and visiting four colleges and a school. Education Minister Leighton Andrews is also meeting members of the delegation to discuss Welsh Government education policies.

Mr Li, a senior official from Chongqing Education Commission of Sha Pingba District and the delegation leader, said: "The importance of this visit at governmental level is demonstrated by the inclusion of a number of senior representatives from a government agency and the seniority of the education leaders in the delegation.

"The delegation of principals and officers are finding common ground and are also discovering that the education systems in China and Wales complement each other.

"We are grateful to the high quality and pertinent training sessions and visits that have been organised for us and that are helping us to develop new perspectives on leading and managing educational institutions. We have been delighted to have had an insight into the strong quality assurance systems that exist in the further education colleges. In addition, we have been particularly interested to see how teaching and learning interact and how staff support learners, both to develop their skills and also to help them in their personal, social and cultural development."

The Chinese delegation visited Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg, Coleg Gwent and Yale College Wrexham – the same colleges from which staff and students are currently participating in a cultural exchange in China.

Bryn Davies, Chairman of the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium and Principal of Ystrad Mynach College, the key organising partner for the visit, said: "I am delighted to have presided over a highly successful official delegation from China organised by the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium. The first visit to focus on vocational education, the seniority of the delegation members signals that vocational education links with Wales are being taken seriously at a governmental level, and I look forward to further developing this relationship over the coming months.

"Through ColegauCymru, the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium, and other partners, Wales' colleges are making good use of opportunities to make strategic links with important emerging economies.

"As much as Wales can learn from successful education systems and high performing economies elsewhere, other countries, too, seek to learn from the expertise that resides in Wales' colleges.

"Together, we are seeking creative solutions to improving quality and driving up skills."

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 19 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 Explore Strategic Role with India

This week, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is exploring a potentially strategic role with India during a visit to the Indian state of Maharashtra.

India is ambitious. Although it is only now starting to consider strategic-level coordination of further education, the Indian Government wants to upskill 500 million people by India's 75th birthday in 2022.

Last April, during a visit to India, Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones committed to prioritise the relationship with India in relation to education and, more specifically, to vocational education, training and skills development.

Wales' further education colleges have since been working to develop opportunities and relationships with India in order to put the commitment into practice.

Wales' further education colleges have already initiated contacts with vocational education and training organisations from India. A UK-India Skills and Training Partnership Conference in London in May 2012 was one important opportunity.

Next week's visit moves the relationship-building up a strategic notch.

Following his participation in a skills roundtable in India last spring, Simon Pirotte, a CollegesWales board director and principal of Coleg Powys, said: "The challenge for Wales is to join up our thinking across sectors and address the issue of scale."

Simon Pirotte returns to India next week as part of a top-level delegation organised by the Welsh Government. Speaking ahead of the visit he said: "ColegauCymru's international arm, CollegesWales (UK) International, enables its member colleges in Wales to work collaboratively and strategically with overseas organisations.

"Given the scale of skills development required in India, however, there will be strength in an even more joined up approach from educational organisations in Wales. ColegauCymru is therefore delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this Welsh Government-led delegation which includes representatives from both further education and higher education."

"In particular, ColegauCymru is eager to explore opportunities for Wales' colleges to share with Indian counterparts their knowledge and experience of vocational education and training. The further education sector in Wales has particular expertise in skills development, engaging with employers large and small, and developing strong quality assurance systems."

Simon Pirotte concluded: "India offers Wales a major opportunity to contribute to international skills development. Wales offers India a professional and coordinated further education sector which has a track record of working in partnership to deliver high quality education and training systems. Working together strategically, India and Wales could be a very good match."
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 19 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 visit to Maharashtra, organised and funded by the Welsh Government, takes place from 1 – 4 December 2012. Representing Wales' further education sector will be Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales' chief executive, and ColegauCymru board director Simon Pirotte, who is also the principal of Coleg Powys. They will be accompanied by representatives from two of Wales' universities and a senior Welsh Government official from Wales. The programme includes meetings with senior representatives of the Government of Maharashtra, Bombay Chamber of Commerce, and visits to training institutes.

3. On behalf of ColegauCymru, Simon Pirotte attended a skills roundtable in India in 2012, which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI). His blogpost on the meeting is available here: http://colegaucymru.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/india/

Coherence to qualifications system in Wales welcomed

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales welcomes the publication of the report on qualifications published today, and considers it to provide a solid basis to move towards a coherent framework of qualifications for Wales that fits with long-established European frameworks for both general and vocational qualifications.

The independent report, "Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales", considers the post-16 educational offer as a whole. It seeks to bring greater coherence between systems and criteria used in school sixth forms and further education colleges. These steps should help improve accountability and quality of post-16 education across the board, and provide greater transparency to learners.

Significantly, the report tries to bring coherence to the artificially stark distinction usually made between 'general academic' qualifications on the one hand and 'vocational qualifications' on the other. It teases out a continuum of qualifications, from general academic qualifications through applied general qualifications to introductory vocational courses (IVETs) and finally fully vocational qualifications (CVETs) that attest to occupational competence in a specific area.

Responding to a plethora of evidence, considerable attention is devoted in the report to improving literacy and numeracy. The report also recognises that the qualifications system will have a part to play in the meeting the needs of the wider workforce as the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 comes into force. In recommending that the most relevant qualifications be made available in English and Welsh, it notes the need to increase the availability of relevant resources, especially in vocational areas.

ColegauCymru is pleased to see that the report recommends that work underway to develop Learning Area Programme approach to planning post-16 curriculum continues. Colleges see merit in offering a packaged programme of learning to individual learners, rather than the current approach of funding a range of individual qualifications. In this vein, colleges have embraced the Welsh Baccalaureate, and are keen to see it further developed and improved.

ColegauCymru is therefore pleased to see the Welsh Baccalaureate being given a strengthened role, with the report's recommendation that "the Welsh Government should introduce a revised and more rigorous Welsh Baccalaureate model".

Importantly, the Report considers the training needs of the teaching workforce that implementation of its recommendations will require.

ColegauCymru has long called for an up-to-date Teachers Qualifications Framework for the further education teaching workforce and is delighted that the Report has made a particular recommendation on training needs. At present, for further education in Wales, there is a Hobson's choice between an of out-of-date Wales-specific teaching qualification or an England-focused more up-to-date teaching qualification. ColegauCymru very much hopes that this Report will provide the impetus for the approval of a new Teaching Qualifications Framework for further education in Wales.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "ColegauCymru believes the recommendations as a whole strike the right balance between establishing a distinctive path for Wales on the one hand, whilst ensuring compatibility with systems in the rest of the UK and Europe for both academic and vocational qualifications on the other. This should result in a robust and credible system that is recognised across the UK and internationally by employers and higher education providers.

"The independent review itself has rightly taken an evidence-based approach. It has made sensible recommendations to improve the package of learning offered to individual learners through a qualifications framework. It has also sought to establish greater coherence across the post-16 education sector as a whole, which should result in higher quality teaching and learning and more of a Team Wales approach.

"ColegauCymru is particularly pleased to see the continuum between general academic qualifications and vocational competence explained, and that literacy and numeracy have been given due attention. Combined, these recommendations should help learners be able to progress confidently and assuredly through the qualifications system and into the workforce.

"Finally, training and communication will be key. Colleges will be keen to play their part in implementing this new vision for Wales.

Concluding, John Graystone said: "ColegauCymru offers its active support to the Welsh Government and relevant stakeholders in moving to establish a coherent and confident path for Wales' learners and its economy."

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 19 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 report, "Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales" was published on 28 November 2012. It is available at: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/121127reviewofqualificationsen.pdf

Golden Performance from Team Wales at top UK skills show

Students and apprentices from Wales collected no fewer than 16 medals – five of them Gold – at the new flagship 'Skills Show' held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. (November 15–17).
The winners were among scores of Welsh trainees who pitted their skills in many different vocational fields against peers from all over the UK.

Some were participating in WorldSkills UK finals in their respective skills while others were taking part in special demonstration contests for the tens of thousands of visitors who attended the three-day event.

Individual gold medals went to trainee plasterer Ross Richardson Davies of Coleg Sir Gâr, Nail Art student Oksana Cooper, of Pembrokeshire College, construction metal worker, Rhodri Jones of Coleg Sir Gâr, Carmarthenshire and architectural stained glass student, Neil James of Swansea Metropolitan University.

In addition Team Wales took gold in the SkillBuild Team Challenge at the show, which covered a number of different areas of expertise. Three Team Wales competitors took individual silver medals while seven took bronze.

Their success followed three days of competition during which the students and apprentices were set a series of challenging tasks in order to demonstrate their skill levels.

For some their success might be the first step on the route to representing the UK at WorldSkills in Leipzig in 2013 or Rio de Janeiro in 2015.

This was the first time the WorldSkills UK finals, in most of the 40 qualifying disciplines, were held in one location in order to provide a single showcase for the UK's most talented trainees. The Skills Show has been created as an annual flagship event to act as a legacy to the WorldSkills 2011 event held in London last year.

Many of the Welsh competitors won their way through to the WorldSkills UK finals at The Skills Show based on their outstanding performance in the Skills Competition Wales programme earlier this year, which is backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund.

Welsh representation at the Show included students and apprentices in fields as diverse as web design, carpentry, automotive engineering, stained glass making, plumbing, plastering and industrial electronics.

Other Welsh students and apprentices showcased their exceptional talents in a wide array of skills through a highly visual and entertainment-led programme, designed to inspire visitors. Cardiff & Vale College, Coleg Harlech WEA (North), Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and ISA Training students took their place amongst the 50 'Showcase' organisations chosen.

Welsh skills were also showcased on a major exhibition stand where visitors had the opportunity to try out a whole range of skills. This was led by the Welsh Government working in partnership with ColegauCymru, the National Training Federation for Wales and Higher Education Wales.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert congratulated Welsh medal winners. "This is testimony to the exceptional quality of vocational skills development in Wales and the growing confidence among our young people that they are more than a match for anyone in the country. To be named the best in your skill in the UK is a tremendous achievement not only for the individual competitor but also for their family, employer or provider who have supported them in their journey. Competitions like WorldSkills UK help deliver economic growth and improved levels of skills. The Welsh Government aims strengthen our skillbase still further over the coming three years by investing £45 million in apprenticeships."

Barry Liles, Skills Champion and Chair of the Wales Skills Network said: "Welsh competitors really stood out at this big event and showed they were well prepared, determined and full of belief that they can be the best in their chosen fields. They have done us proud."

Ends

Further information from Eoghan Mortell 029 2064 6840 or 07977 555 116

Wales' Colleges Develop Skills in China

Nine vocational students from three of Wales' colleges are on a trip of a lifetime in Chongqing, China, swapping skills knowledge and glimpsing new horizons in the world's fastest growing city.

The students, who are studying at Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg and Yale College Wrexham, are being hosted by City Management College in Chongqing for the next two weeks (17 Nov – 1 Dec). They will be participating in skills and cultural workshops relevant to their studies, which span a wide range of vocational areas, including: health & social care, sports science, engineering, information technology, and art & design.

Setting the scene at the grand welcome ceremony this morning, the Welsh group was treated to a special address by Li Shyiu, International Director at Chongqing Education Commission. Her participation demonstrates that this visit, organised by CollegesWales (UK) International, is considered significant and strategic at governmental level in Chongqing.

The five staff members who are accompanying the students have a busy programme of relationship-building activities to manage. Hospitality and catering links are the key focus of the Coleg Powys representative, whilst the representatives from Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg and Yale College Wrexham have a wide remit to cover between them, including: health and social care, business, sport, travel and tourism, hair and beauty, and public services.

Hands-on teaching will add a particularly interesting dimension to the experience of the Welsh staff. Al Koursaros, senior lecturer in management and business at Ystrad Mynach College and who is also the CollegesWales (UK) International's Group Leader for the duration of the visit, will be teaching Chinese students at City Management College.

Sian Holleran, International Coordinator at CollegesWales (UK) International, said: "CollegesWales (UK) International is keen to ensure that vocational learners from Wales have opportunities to broaden their horizons and consider their place in the global economy. I am delighted that the Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium has been able to secure this skills-based experience for Welsh learners as well as to facilitate strategic level discussions with counterparts in Chongqing.

"That the group from Wales has been feted by the International Director at Chongqing Education Commission augurs particularly well, and I am confident that the visit will serve to deepen relationships and develop more opportunities for learners in Wales and Chongqing."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. CollegesWales (UK) International is a division of CollegesWales - an educational charity and a company limited by guarantee which represents all of Wales' further education colleges. Its purpose is to work with other countries to offer more opportunities to learners, to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

2. In 2011, eleven of Wales' further education colleges formed a Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium as part of CollegesWales (UK) International. This visit to Chongqing has been coordinated by CollegesWales (UK) International's offices in Wales and Chongqing.

3. The municipality of Chongqing has a population of over 31 million. Chongqing city has a population of over 6 million people. Its main industries are car, motorcycle and aviation manufacturing, the manufacture of consumer goods (laptops), coal mining and heavy industry. The Welsh Government and the Municipal Government of Chongqing have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on industry, education and economic development projects. Delegates from colleges in Wales and Chongqing have undertaken a number of visits to each others' regions and have now developed strong and lasting relationships.

4. The students are from: Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg and Yale College Wrexham. The college staff are from: Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg, Yale College Wrexham and Coleg Powys. Senior lecturer in management and business at Ystrad Mynach College, Al Koursaros, will lead the visit on behalf of CollegesWales (UK) International.

Students and apprentices fly the flag for Team Wales at top UK skills show

Scores of students and apprentices are this week demonstrating the quality of Welsh vocational learning to tens of thousands of people from across the UK at the new flagship 'Skills Show' being held in Birmingham. (November 15–17).

Many of the 18-23 year olds from Wales are taking part in UK competitions in their chosen skills that may be a first step on the path to international glory at WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 or even WorldSkills Rio de Janeiro in 2015.

They are competing this week in their respective categories of the WorldSkills UK finals being held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham as part of the inaugural Skills Show, which is expected to attract up to 100,000 spectators.

For the first time, the WorldSkills UK finals in most of the 40 qualifying disciplines are being held in one location in order to provide a single showcase for the UK's most talented trainees.

The Skills Show has been created as an annual flagship event to act as a legacy to the WorldSkills 2011 event held in London last year.

The contingent from Team Wales won their way through to the finals in Birmingham based on their outstanding performance in the Skills Competition Wales programme earlier this year, which is backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund.

They include trainees in fields as diverse as web design, carpentry, automotive engineering, stained glass making, plumbing, plastering and industrial electronics.

Other Welsh students and trainees, not involved in WorldSkills UK competitions, will also be showcasing their talents in a wide array of skills through a highly visual and entertainment-led programme, designed to inspire visitors. Cardiff & Vale College, Coleg Harlech WEA (North), Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and ISA Training students will take their place amongst the 50 'Showcase' organisations chosen.

Welsh skills will also be showcased on a major exhibition stand where visitors will have the opportunity to try out a whole range of skills. This has been organised by a partnership made up of Welsh Government, Colegau Cymru, the National Training Federation for Wales and Higher Education Wales.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert wished the participants from various Welsh colleges and training providers well in their competitions at the NEC. He said: "This is an excellent opportunity for Wales to demonstrate the quality of its vocational skills development across many disciplines and for us to show that we can hold our own against the best in the country."

He was supported by Barry Liles, Chair of the Skills Network and Wales Skills Champion who said: "It's very important for our students and trainees in Wales to have the opportunity to pit their skills against peers from across the UK and the World. This sets a benchmark that encourages them to excel and show just how good they can be. I've every confidence that Welsh participants in the first Skills Show this week will do us proud."

Team Wales Hall of Fame

Every year, hundreds of ambitious students, trainees and apprentices across the UK get involved in skills competitions (such as WorldSkills UK and Skills Competition Wales). These competitions test who has the ability to be a champion. And for those who've got what it takes, career stardom awaits.

Click the video for a message from some of those who have successfully made it into the Team Wales 'Hall of Fame'.

Be a champion: www.worldskillsuk.org/wales

Credits: 'Hall of Fame', The Script. Written by O'Donoghue/Sheehan/Frampton/Bar. Published by Imagem Music.

Ends

Further information from Eoghan Mortell/Jess Childs 029 2064 6840 or 07977 555 116

Learning to Manage Money: a Westminster Reception

There was a distinct Welsh flavour to the Westminster reception organised by Lloyds Banking Group on 22 October to celebrate Money for Life, with two of the four speakers representing Wales.

The UK-wide Money for Life programme is supported by Lloyds Banking Group and coordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). It aims to develop vital money management skills in trainers as well as learners across the further education (FE) sector, including colleges, work based learning providers and a wide range of organisations that are rooted in their local communities.

At a reception in Westminster last week, Felix McLaughlin, Student Financial Support Manager at Cardiff & Vale College, spoke of his passion for helping college students take control of their own finances. Having worked in the private financial services sector before moving Cardiff and Vale College, he was shocked to discover a long line of students beating a path to his door, desperately in need of financial support.

Surprised to learn of some students' inability to budget, understand financial jargon, and their lack of confidence with managing money, he felt compelled to help. First, he undertook the two professional development courses offered by the Money for Life programme, Teach Me and Teach Others. Then, he started delivering Financial Capability sessions in tutorial sessions and organised drop in appointments with Money Advice Service (part of Citizens Advice Bureau). The next step is to work with departments in the college to introduce legal clinics to complement the CAB clinics.

Also addressing a host of MPs and invited guests at the Westminster reception was 16 year old Paige Sparrow. From being "not very good with maths" and a person who was intimidated by authority and public attention, Paige attributes her new-found confidence, money skills and public speaking ability to the Money for Life Challenge.

The Challenge is a competition that aims to find successful and innovative ways to improve the money management skills of learners, their friends, families and communities. Paige was a member of the "Don't Buy Posh, Save Your Dosh" team from ACT Bridgend that won first the Wales final and then the UK Grand Final, which was held in London earlier this year.

ColegauCymru's Julia Owens, the Money for Life coordinator for Wales, said: "The Money for Life programme provides opportunities for those working with young people and the learners themselves to gain confidence and vital skills. I am delighted that financial literacy is now being recognised as an essential skill and that we in Wales are making full use of the Money for Life programme and the support of Lloyds Banking Group."

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 19 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 Money for Life programme has two key strands: firstly, developing the skills of those who work with young people through Teach Me and Teach Others training courses; and secondly, providing opportunities for young people to develop their own skills through the Money for Life Challenge. For further information, visit: www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk

3. Cardiff and Vale College – formed following merger of Coleg Glan Hafren and Barry College in August 2011 – has around 25,000 full and part time students enrolled, studying further and higher education courses across 11 sites throughout the capital region. www.cavc.ac.uk

4. The reception at Westminster was organised by Lloyds Banking Group on 22 October 2012 and hosted by Justin Tomlinson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Financial Education for Young People. Felix McLaughlin and Paige Sparrow were guest speakers at the event.

5. Pictured L to R: Julia Owens, Paige Sparrow, Clara Weekley, Felix McLaughlin.

Drive for Apprenticeships Prestige

At the launch of a strategic report on apprenticeships in Wales today, ColegauCymru called for work to be done to establish a higher level of prestige for the apprenticeship 'brand'.

Following an in-depth inquiry, the National Assembly for Wales' Business and Enterprise Committee today published its report: Apprenticeships in Wales.

A number of its recommendations focus on the need for clearer guidance and support for employers on the one hand, and on the other, the need to improve the esteem and prestige in which apprenticeships are held by young people and their influencers.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Dr John Graystone, said: "Unfortunately, recent research showed that 93% of 15 year olds were unable to identify an apprenticeship as a post-GCSE option. Coordinated efforts between providers and employers such as Apprenticeships Week and Vocational Qualifications (VQ) Day help to combat such prejudices to a degree.

"But, as the Assembly committee report recommends, there is work to be done on establishing a higher level of prestige for the apprenticeship 'brand', commensurate with the esteem afforded the vocational route in certain other European nations."

Colleges are already working alongside thousands of employers every year and have forged some particularly strong training partnerships with anchor employers. In future, as more mergers between colleges take place, the larger colleges that result will become 'anchor colleges' that will be able to engage in even stronger strategic relationships with major employers.

Colleges are also working to help SMEs employ apprentices, establishing strategic vehicles to deliver shared apprenticeships, where a college-owned company employs apprentices on behalf of a group of small employers in order to reduce risk.

In addition, colleges have worked hard to make the recently introduced Pathways to Apprenticeship programme a success. Established by the Welsh Government as a means to helps young people get onto the apprenticeship ladder during the recession, its inception was welcomed by ColegauCymru.

Looking to the future, ColegauCymru agrees with the report's recommendation that the Welsh Government should in future consider mainstreaming the Pathways to Apprenticeships' funding, while ensuring it is aligned to economic needs and the demands of local areas.

Dr John Graystone concluded: "Apprenticeships are of key importance to the recovery of the Welsh economy and I'm therefore delighted that the Business and Enterprise Committee held an inquiry to consider how improvements could be made.

"I very much hope that the Welsh Government will look favourably on the recommendations, and that the Business and Enterprise Committee will revisit these recommendations on a regular basis to check on their implementation. Colleges are keen to play their part and ColegauCymru will seek to work with the Welsh Government and other key partners to ensure action now follows."

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 19 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 National Assembly for Wales' Enterprise & Business Committee report, Apprenticeships Wales was launched on 25 October at Bridgend College, Pencoed. Electronic copies of the report can be found at http://www.assemblywales.org

3. The research referred to by Dr John Graystone was conducted by Loudhouse Research on behalf of the Association of Colleges, published in 2011. It was a study of post GCSE options for students. It is available from http://www.aoc.co.uk/en/research/aoc-commissioned-research.cfm

Money for Life Challenge: competition launch

Calling all 16-24 year olds with ideas on managing money: get involved in Lloyds TSB's Money for Life Challenge, a UK-wide competition to encourage young people to improve their money management skills.

The Challenge awards grants to groups of young people to run a money management activity in their community, with the best projects going head to head to win a coveted place at the Wales and UK Grand Finals. Here in Wales, there are 70 grants up for grabs, under the coordination of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales.

It was a team from Wales that was crowned winner of last year's UK Grand Final, so we certainly have a great stock of expertise here in Wales. The Money for Life Challenge UK winning team 2011/12, 'Don't Buy Posh, Save Your Dosh' from ACT Training in Bridgend, transformed their common room into a 'Value Cafe' where people could learn how to save cash by swapping from branded to value products.

The project has had a lasting legacy for the team as well as their community. Shannon Mears, 16, said: "Having started the Money for Life Challenge with no confidence, I have found it a life changing experience and now everyone says how confident and bubbly I am. I'm amazed to find that I have learnt so many new skills and my mum is pleased that I have shown her how to save on our weekly shopping bill!"

A Money for Life roadshow is setting off on 24 September to spread the word across the country. Money for Life coordinators in Wales, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and NTfW, are making Bangor Management Centre the first port of call on 24 September, followed by Deeside College on 25 September, ColegauCymru's office in Cardiff on 27 September, and the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthenshire on 28 September.

Project Manager for Wales, ColegauCymru's Julia Owens, said: "We've seen a great enthusiasm from young people and their learning mentors in coming up with all kinds of Money for Life Challenge projects, from the 'simple but effective' to the technologically savvy. Applications for grants must be in by 23 November and we're really keen to meet anyone interested in finding out more so that all of the teams can get a head start on developing their projects.

"In addition to the Challenge, we're also offering free financial capability training to those working with young people. This can include further education and work-based learning support staff, volunteers and staff in community groups. It's a great opportunity to get the skills needed to be able to help young people build their confidence."

Sarah Porretta, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group, says: "The Money for Life Challenge is all about embedding money skills in communities across the UK, especially by equipping young people with the financial know-how they need to fulfil their potential. All of the teams who entered last year have played a huge role in helping us reach this goal with their originality, creativity and enthusiasm and I look forward to seeing more inspiring entries this year."

Ends

Notes to Editors
1. The Money for Life Challenge is part of a unique partnership between Lloyds Banking Group and further education sector partners in the four nations of the UK (ColegauCymru and NTfW in Wales). The competition aims to find the most successful and innovative ways to improve the money management skills of learners, their friends, families and communities. Project team members are between 16 and 24 years old and in further education, work based learning or adult community learning.

2. Details on the Money for Life Challenge and how to apply are found on:www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk
Media contact (Wales): Sylvia Davies T: 029 2052 2500 E:sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk
Media contact UK: Money for Life team at Blue Rubicon on 020 7260 2700 or moneyforlife@bluerubicon.com
For more information about the challenge or the information sessions, please contact Julia.Owens@ColegauCymru.ac.uk orClara.Weekley@NTfW.org

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. Many students are now bound for Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and other prestigious establishments including RADA and a top global business school.

Outperforming the UK average at the more challenging A*-C grades are Gower College Swansea, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Gwent Crosskeys Campus, with Neath Port Talbot College reporting that a highly noteworthy 82.6% of its entries have achieved A*-C. Impressively, no fewer than 58% of entries at Gower College Swansea have been awarded at least a B grade, which is well above the Wales average of 49.9% as well as the UK average.

St David's Catholic College's Honours Programme for its gifted and talented students is reporting phenomenal results: 81% of students gained A* or A grade, with 100% gaining A*-B grade at A2 level. Across the college as a whole, the A*-A grade stands at 40%, well outstripping the UK average of 26.6%. Six of its students will be going to Oxbridge.

Meanwhile, Yale College Wrexham sees four of its A level students leave for Oxbridge including star twins Michael and William Antony who have notched up 7 A* and 2 A grades between them. Michael is off to study Maths at Cambridge University whilst William takes his 4 A* grades to Cambridge to study Law. Biology at Oxford University is Tom Challoner's destination, having reaped a fantastic 3A*s and an A as well as the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma.

Joining them at Oxbridge will be Neath Port Talbot College's Rebecca Baker (engineering), and three from Gower College Swansea: straight A* student Aimee Hesketh (veterinary medicine), Leah Dudley (law) and arts student Dominic Thomas.

Striving for a top vocational qualification is Chelsea Bond from Neath Port Talbot College. She is taking her A*-A results in four A levels to Henley Business School - rated among the top 1% in the world. She will study for an Accounting and Business degree, which has been designed in partnership with PWC and ICAEW. It includes paid work placements at PWC and an offer of employment with a premium starting salary for successful graduates and a fast-track to full chartered accountant status.

A string of college students will follow Chelsea's vocational direction, and are off to study law and medicine-related subjects at top universities. Future lawyers include Pembrokeshire College's Lauren Probert, Gower College Swansea's Sarah Sardar, Deeside College's Samuel Carr, Neath Port Talbot's Marybeth Thornhill, and Coleg Menai's Beca Llewelyn Roberts – who has in addition been granted a scholarship. Medicine is the choice of Coleg Sir Gâr's Daniel Mauro, hearing impaired Luke Nixon of Yale College who's going to Cardiff University, and his fellow student at Yale, Sioned Williams, is off to King's College London; while bio veterinary science is the choice of Kate Morris of Coleg Menai.

Gower College Swansea's Rosie Sheehy on the other hand is not pursuing a science career despite receiving A*-A in biology, chemistry and maths. That's because she has also received A* drama and theatre studies, which has given her the freedom to follow her passion at RADA. She'll be joined there by Yale College's Joe Roberts.

Languages have notched some great successes this year. 100% of entries in French and Russian achieved A*-C at Cardiff and Vale College. 50% of Welsh second language entries achieved A*-A at Coleg Sir Gar, surpassing the Wales average of 16% by an incredibly large margin. With great results in Welsh, French and history, Yale College's Nicola Brown is preparing to start a degree in Welsh at Bangor University. University College London is Isabella Abdou's destination, where she takes her straight A*-As from Gower College Swansea to study for a degree in Spanish and Russian. And Neath Port Talbot College's Alice Parson and Emily Kate Morgan who have both received straight As will both pursue French at degree level.

It is not only the traditional 16-18 year old full time A level students that colleges support to great personal success. There are also mature students, part-time students and second-chance students. For example, this year's science successes from Cardiff and Vale College include:

  • Yannik Herbert, who left school at 14 without any GCSEs but happily discovered college and has now gained A*s in English Literature, Maths and Physics at the age of 20 and is off to Cambridge University.
  • Seongju Lee, who arrived from Korea in 2009 with little English and consequently didn't do well at school. But in just two years at the college, he's passed his GCSEs, AS level Maths, and today, still aged just 18, he's received A grades in his Maths and Physics A levels.
  • Miles Capper who has turned himself around with the support of the college is today trying to decide where to study for a BSc Chemistry following competing offers from top universities.

Colleges are proud of ensuring strong support for the whole range of A level candidates. Wales' colleges from north to south are reporting higher pass rates than the UK average, including at: Coleg Sir Gâr, Pembrokeshire College, Yale College Wrexham, Deeside College, Coleg Gwent Crosskeys Campus and Neath Port Talbot College. The majority of the A level subjects in these colleges had 100% success rate. And Coleg Menai's A level success rate could not be bettered – with a 100% success rate across the board.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, 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 1,687 A level entries at Gower College Swansea, 1,086 at Neath Port Talbot College, more than 900 at Coleg Gwent and around 900 also at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

"The larger tertiary colleges have demonstrated that their most highly talented students achieve with the best. Achieving at least three A grades were 23 students at Yale College Wrexham and 21 students at both Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Gwent.

"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 beyond their wildest dreams. Many who had left school with poor or mediocre results 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."

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 19 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 0380545Neath Port Talbot College: Fay Harris T: 01639 648006Coleg Sir Gâr: Mandy Wyrwoll T: 01554 748533Gower College Swansea: Allison Lowe T: 01792 284262Cardiff and Vale College: Christopher Baker T: 01446 725015Deeside College: Claire Nicholson or Vicky Barwis T: 01244 834531 Pembrokeshire College: Geoff Elliott T: 01437 753100 St David's Catholic College: Alwyn Lloyd or Holly Bryant T: 029 20498 555Yale College: Angela Witter T: 01978 317321 ext 2033
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai: Jane Cater T: 01492 546666, or Sarah Wynn at Coleg Menai (part of Grwp Llandrillo Menai T: 01248 370125 ext 3548)

Growing Welsh-medium Education in Colleges: Supporting the Students

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is delighted to launch a good practice handbook on "Encouraging Further Education Students to Continue with their Education through the Medium of Welsh" at 1pm on 8 August at the National Eisteddfod in the company of the Deputy Minister Jeff Cuthbert AM.

Over recent years, Welsh-medium education has increased at all levels from primary school level upwards. However, there has always been a significant number of Welsh-medium educated young people who choose to stop studying through the medium of Welsh when they reach a new key stage of learning. One of the stages where this drop off occurs is in the transition from secondary school to further education college.

Further education colleges are stepping up the opportunities available to their students. In addition, they are making significant effort, both within the college sector as well as in collaboration with a wide range of partners, to encourage students from the age of 14 upwards to continue to learn through the medium of Welsh or bilingually.

The good practice handbook launched at the Eisteddfod on 8 August, which was prepared by the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, Aberystwyth University, in partnership with Wavehill, demonstrates that there are many examples of good practice and positive progress to be found in colleges all over Wales.

The handbook identifies good practice by colleges in the following areas:

  • Targeting learners and early intervention, including provision of courses to develop Welsh-language skills, peer teaching, online support and resources, tutorial groups
  • Informal, extracurricular, pastoral and social provision through the medium of Welsh
  • Marketing and promotional campaigns, including case studies of former bilingual students, a DVD and a student-produced Welsh language magazine
  • Promoting the value of Welsh in the labour market and in the workplace, including work placements and links with employers
  • Developing staff capacity to teach and interact with learners through the medium of Welsh
  • Working in partnership to develop Welsh-medium or bilingual provision, including links with schools, 14-19 networks, higher education institutions and other organizations such as Yr Urdd, Twf and Mentrau Iaith.

Mark Jones, ColegauCymru's Senior Vice Chair, said: "ColegauCymru and further education colleges across Wales are keen to further increase Welsh-medium education in colleges and to provide students with the support that they need to progress. I am delighted that the handbook, prepared by Aberystwyth University in partnership with Wavehill, identifies that good practice examples are already in existence in colleges in all corners of Wales.

"One particularly pleasing finding of the research that the handbook draws on is that colleges are increasingly working in close partnership with a range of stakeholders, including schools, 14-19 networks, higher education institutions, the Urdd, Mentrau Iaith. This collaboration benefits college students as well as the wider community.

Mark Jones concluded: "Publishing the handbook will now enable the good practice to be shared so that all colleges as well as other stakeholders can work together to improve still further".

Speaking ahead of the launch, the Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, said: "The Welsh Government is committed to developing a bilingual Wales. In order to achieve this it is vital that we develop the Welsh language skills of the future workforce.

"I am encouraged by the many examples of good practice by further education colleges and their partners in creating opportunities for learners from the age of 14 and upwards. I look forward to hearing about further developments in this area as the good practice is shared across all colleges and their partners."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales represents all 19 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, visitwww.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The launch of the handbook takes place at 1pm on 8 August at the Bridgend College marquee at the National Eisteddfod, Vale of Glamorgan. The marquee is located at MO3/MO4, close to Y Babell Lên (literature tent), and Y Lle Celf (art exhibition pavilion).

3. For directions to reach the Eisteddfod, click: http://www.eisteddfod.org.uk/english/content.php?nID=684

4. The purpose of this Handbook is to share examples of current good practice in the Further Education (FE) sector in encouraging students to continue with their education through the medium of Welsh. The Handbook was commissioned by the Welsh Language Board as part of the 'Dewis Da' project, and was produced by Aberystwyth University School of Education and Lifelong Learning in partnership with Wavehill. It will be available (in Welsh and English) on the ColegauCymru website from 8 August.

Talented Welsh duo line up for international skills glory

Two talented Welsh trainees have been shortlisted to represent the UK in front of thousands of people at the world's top skills competition.

Star plumbing apprentice Lee Cuthill, 21, from Denbighshire and web design wizard from Carmarthenshire, Daniel Koehler,17, have impressed selectors enough to earn a call-up for the UK Squad to compete at the prestigious international WorldSkills event, in Leipzig Germany next year.
Lee is an apprentice with Ruthin-based D I Jones Heating Engineers and a student at Yale College Wrexham, while Daniel is a student at Coleg Sir Gâr, Carmarthenshire. Both have been waiting over recent months to see if their successes in the Wales and UK rounds of WorldSkills would be enough to win them places in the squad. They'll know next March whether they've actually made it through to the final UK team selection.

Further top trainees from Wales may be named for the UK Squad in other skill areas, when the second half of the squad is announced later this year.

WorldSkills is the biggest international skills event on the planet. Held every two years in one of its 61 member countries or regions, the competition sees around 1,000 young people aged 18 - 23 from across the globe compete for medals in more than 40 different skills. These include fields such as electrical installation, mobile robotics, web design, cooking, construction skills, plumbing and landscape gardening.

Lee and Daniel selected from among the UK's most talented apprentices, employees and learners after competing in tough three-day selection events in their respective skills held throughout the UK. This followed their outstanding success earlier this year in the SkillsCompetition Wales programme, which is backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund.

Following selection for the UK squad, Lee and Daniel will now spend the next year preparing to take on the very best from across the world, undergoing bespoke training programmes supported by a specialist trainers in their skill areas.

As Squad UK members, they will compete for coveted places in Team UK at a further selection event which will be held in March 2013. If selected for the final team the two will step-up training before heading to WorldSkills Leipzig which takes place from 2nd – 7th July 2013.

Commenting on his selection a delighted Daniel said: "It is a huge honour to be a member of Squad UK. I know the next year will be tough as I will be in training but I really hope the whole country gets behind Squad and Team UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013, just like they do our sporting teams!"
The National Apprenticeship Service manages the UK's entry into the WorldSkills Competition under the name of WorldSkills UK. The competitors that took part in Squad UK Selection were invited to compete after excelling in the WorldSkills UK National Competitions and other industry events. WorldSkills UK National Competitions reward real talent and drive up levels of expertise in further education, skills and Apprenticeships.

Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills congratulated the two on their success. He said: "These competitions provide an excellent opportunity to stretch the abilities of up-and-coming skilled workers from many important sectors of the economy and encourage them to benchmark their skill against others in Wales, UK or international competitors.

"It is vital that our workforce has the very highest skills and that we continue to strive for excellence across all sectors to ensure Wales can compete on the international stage."

The majority of Squad UK competitors will compete at EuroSkills, which is being held from the 4th – 6th October 2012 in Spa, Belgium. This will form part of their 'pressure testing' ahead of the selection for Team UK.

Jaine Bolton, Director at the National Apprenticeship Service and UK Official Delegate to WorldSkills International said: "I offer my support and congratulations to every young person that has earned a place in Squad UK. "By competing in international competitions, the UK is able to showcase the high levels of performance that can be achieved by individuals and organisations through high quality further education, skills training and Apprenticeships. This provides the inspiration for young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level."

Further information from Eoghan Mortell on
029 2064 6840 or 07977 555 116

Ends

Notes to Editors:

About Squad and Team UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) manages the UK's entry into the WorldSkills Competition under the name of WorldSkills UK.

The members of Squad UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 were be chosen from amongst the UK's most talented apprentices, employees and learners aged 18 – 23, after three day selection events which took place during summer 2012. The competitors that took part in the Squad UK selection events were invited to compete after excelling in the WorldSkills UK National Competitions or other industry events.
Members of Squad UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 will undergo a specialised training programme, supported by a dedicated Training Manager in each skill. They will compete for a place in Team UK by taking part in further selection events which will be held throughout the UK in March 2013.

The UK is currently ranked fifth in the WorldSkills ranking ahead of France, Germany and China after Team UK secured five Gold, two Silver and six Bronze medals at WorldSkills London 2011. This was the UK's best ever result in the 62 year history of WorldSkills.

British Gypsum, Goldsmiths and Marshalls are Skill Sponsors for Squad UK and Team UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013.

WorldSkills Leipzig takes place from 2 – 7 July 2013.

About WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show
Competitors from the 2012 WorldSkills UK programme will be showcased at The Skills Show, taking place at NEC Birmingham, 15 – 17 November.

The UK's biggest skills and careers event, The Skills Show is a unique annual celebration that will inspire the landscape gardeners, web developers and engineers of tomorrow with exciting opportunities in further education, skills and Apprenticeships.

City & Guilds is the Premier Sponsor of The Skills Show. European Social Fund (ESF) is a partner of The Skills Show.

For more information about WorldSkills UK visit www.worldskillsuk.org
For more information about The Skills Show visit www.theskillsshow.com

Barclays 'Top Tips' Money Skills Competition: Winner

Cardiff and Vale College student Rachel Mulqueen has been named Wales winner of the Barclays 'Top tips' competition, which asked students to provide a great money-saving tip.

The competition aimed to inspire further education college students to share their knowledge of money management following their involvement in Barclays Money Skills 'weeks', a national money management programme.

Highlighting her money saving tip Rachel said: "Pack a picnic, grab a football and explore nearby parks! You can even take the dog and kill two birds with one stone."

Students across the UK were encouraged to take part in the competitions by their colleges as part of Barclays Money Skills 'weeks', a national programme which improves students' financial capability through a week-long series of classroom tutorials, lunchtime activities and competitions based on money management. Barclays worked in partnership with The National Skills Academy for Financial Services to roll out the programme during the spring term. The programme was highly successful, with 120 further education colleges across the UK taking part and 100,000 students participating in entertaining and informative money management activities at their colleges, based on relevant topics such as budgeting and independent living.

Students across the participating colleges were invited along to a celebration event at Barclays headquarters in London on Friday 29 June, where the national winners for each competition were announced.

Chris Hearn, Head of Education for Barclays said: Congratulations to all of the competition winners who have provided some great tips and photos, demonstrating their enthusiasm and knowledge of successful money management through their involvement in Barclays Money Skills 'weeks'.

Our partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services has enabled us to deliver a successful programme for young people, which will help to provide them with the financial skills and confidence they will need for a secure financial future."

Sylvia Perrins, CEO at the Skills Academy said "Barclays Money Skills 'weeks' is a proven way to provide money management support to students, particularly now, when the cost of education is higher than it has been for years. Ensuring that students feel confident about managing their money is important in enabling them to concentrate on achieving their educational goals.

We worked with Barclays to deliver workshops, activities and competitions that students could relate to and enjoy, and it's evident in the feedback from students and the success of this competition that the programme has been overwhelmingly positive."

Ends

PRESS - For further information please contact:
The Red Consultancy
barclaysmoneyskillsteam@redconsultancy.com
Tel: 0207 025 6500

Notes to Editors:

Other winners of Barclays money-saving 'top tips' competition include:
Luke Little, Derby College
"Before leaving the house use the internet to find what you need and where the cheapest can be found. Then only take the necessary money; spare cash gives you reason to overspend."
Phil Spriggs, Peterborough Regional College
"Rather than paying for public transport or petrol, walk or cycle. It is better for your pocket, your health and the environment."

Alistair Wilson, Blackpool and The Fylde College
"When purchasing a non essential item look at the cost of the item and then to compare it to your hourly rate of pay. Decide if it warrants 1 ,2 ,3 hours work. Using this method I have saved up for the things that actually matter like my car, laptop etc. as opposed to the rubbish I once frittered my money away on. Money is a lot easier to spend than it is to earn."
Jemma Steel, Lancaster and Morecambe College
"Buy food as it is reduced last minute. It's always a surprise what you will have for tea!"
Gemma Morrison, Reid Kerr College
"Agree a budget with friends i.e. £10 each with 5 friends and decide what to do that's fun for everyone and within budget."
Bethany Mills, Chichester College
"Save £5 from each pay packet and you will have a fallback for a rainy day."
About the National Skills Academy for Financial Services
The National Skills Academy for Financial Services is a unique independent employer-led charitable organisation dedicated to growing talent and building professionalism in the UK financial services industry. Its goal is to support future, emerging and existing talent and to ensure the financial services industry is productive and efficient to compete in global markets.
The Skills Academy provides a diverse range of business and talent development support – and all tailor-made for the industry's needs. Its educational programmes can be accessed in-house, online and locally through the Skills Academy Training Provider Partner Network. As a registered charity, its aim is to provide value-added and cost-effective programmes. Income generated is re-invested in innovative schemes to further support the industry and development of its people across many business areas. For more information, please visit: www.nsafs.co.uk.
About Barclays
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs nearly 147,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for 48 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.barclays.com.
About Barclays Money Skills
Barclays Money Skills is a practical money management programme designed to build the financial skills of 16 – 25 year olds and other vulnerable groups across the UK.
Barclays aim is to share its knowledge and expertise as a financial services organisation to make the biggest social difference. Barclays is working in partnership with respected and experienced charities to deliver the programme to young adults and a range of other vulnerable groups including returning servicemen and women, those at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders and older people. In March 2011 Barclays announced partnerships with three youth charities - Action for Children, the National Skills Academy for Financial Services and the National Youth Agency. For further information about Barclays Money Skills visit www.barclaysmoneyskills.com.

Barclays Money Skills Photo Competition: Winner

Coleg Powys student Levi Jones has been named Wales winner of the 'My money style' photo competition by Barclays.

The competition aimed to inspire further education college students to share their knowledge of money management following their involvement in Barclays Money Skills 'weeks', a national money management programme.

Commenting on the award and the inspiration behind her winning photo Levi said: "Being named a winner of the 'My money style' photo competition was so exciting. My photo, titled 'Life is sweet with money,' takes the theme of money and is intended to highlight the importance of saving and spending your money wisely. After all, if you save up and have money, life can be sweet!"

Students across the UK were encouraged to take part in the competitions by their colleges as part of Barclays Money Skills 'weeks', a national programme which improves students' financial capability through a week-long series of classroom tutorials, lunchtime activities and competitions based on money management. Barclays worked in partnership with The National Skills Academy for Financial Services to roll out the programme during the spring term. The programme was highly successful, with 120 further education colleges across the UK taking part and 100,000 students participating in entertaining and informative money management activities at their colleges, based on relevant topics such as budgeting and independent living.

Students across the participating colleges were invited along to a celebration event at Barclays headquarters in London on Friday 29 June, where the national winners for each competition were announced.

Chris Hearn, Head of Education for Barclays said: Congratulations to all of the competition winners who have provided some great tips and photos, demonstrating their enthusiasm and knowledge of successful money management through their involvement in Barclays Money Skills 'weeks'.

Our partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services has enabled us to deliver a successful programme for young people, which will help to provide them with the financial skills and confidence they will need for a secure financial future."

Sylvia Perrins, CEO at the Skills Academy said "Barclays Money Skills 'weeks' is a proven way to provide money management support to students, particularly now, when the cost of education is higher than it has been for years. Ensuring that students feel confident about managing their money is important in enabling them to concentrate on achieving their educational goals.

We worked with Barclays to deliver workshops, activities and competitions that students could relate to and enjoy, and it's evident in the feedback from students and the success of this competition that the programme has been overwhelmingly positive."

Ends

PRESS - For further information please contact:
The Red Consultancy
barclaysmoneyskillsteam@redconsultancy.com
Tel: 0207 025 6500

Notes to Editors:

About the National Skills Academy for Financial Services
The National Skills Academy for Financial Services is a unique independent employer-led charitable organisation dedicated to growing talent and building professionalism in the UK financial services industry. Its goal is to support future, emerging and existing talent and to ensure the financial services industry is productive and efficient to compete in global markets.

The Skills Academy provides a diverse range of business and talent development support – and all tailor-made for the industry's needs. Its educational programmes can be accessed in-house, online and locally through the Skills Academy Training Provider Partner Network. As a registered charity, its aim is to provide value-added and cost-effective programmes. Income generated is re-invested in innovative schemes to further support the industry and development of its people across many business areas. For more information, please visit: www.nsafs.co.uk.

About Barclays
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs nearly 147,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for 48 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.barclays.com.

About Barclays Money Skills
Barclays Money Skills is a practical money management programme designed to build the financial skills of 16 – 25 year olds and other vulnerable groups across the UK.

Barclays aim is to share its knowledge and expertise as a financial services organisation to make the biggest social difference. Barclays is working in partnership with respected and experienced charities to deliver the programme to young adults and a range of other vulnerable groups including returning servicemen and women, those at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders and older people. In March 2011 Barclays announced partnerships with three youth charities - Action for Children, the National Skills Academy for Financial Services and the National Youth Agency. For further information about Barclays Money Skills visit www.barclaysmoneyskills.com.

Enterprise: Where Wales' Students Lead the World

College students in Wales are leading the UK and the rest of the world on enterprise.

A Wales win at the Global Enterprise Challenge 2012 final in Japan was last week's precursor to the publication today of the Carnegie UK Trust's Enterprising Minds survey of 16-21 year old students in the UK, which identifies Wales' students as the most enterprise-minded in the UK.

Four of Wales' further education are working with the Carnegie UK Trust: Bridgend College, Deeside College, Pembrokeshire College and Cardiff and Vale College. The Enterprising Minds survey included 17 colleges and 1,602 students from the UK nations.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "FE colleges in Wales work very closely with businesses to prepare students for the competitive global marketplace, where skills and attitude to enterprise are key to getting ahead. I am delighted that Wales' FE students are rated highest in the UK on the 'Carnegie Measure of Student Attributes to Enterprise', and that they have impressed the Carnegie Trust with their enthusiasm about their college experiences, recognising the high quality of their education.

"Many colleges in Wales have their own practice companies and they engage fully in the Global Enterprise Challenge.

"It's fantastic news that Coleg Menai has just won third for Wales in this year's Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC) which took place in Japan last week. This is an outstanding achievement. Even better news is that this was not a one-off. Coleg Menai was following in the footsteps of Coleg Morgannwg, which won first for Wales in the GEC in 2010."

In addition, Cardiff and Vale College has newly announced that it is joining the Gazelle Group, which is focused on growing a cluster of Entrepreneurial Colleges committed to transforming curricula to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset in their students.

Dr Graystone concluded: "Wales' FE colleges and their students are working flexibly, entrepreneurially, and are always learning and looking for the next challenge. These are all vital attributes to succeed in an uncertain global economy."

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 19 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. Information on the Global Enterprise Challenge Team from Coleg Menai: http://t.co/HVm8FgcJ

3. The Carnegie UK Trust's Enterprising Minds study included 17 colleges and 1602 students from the UK nations. The report was launched on Monday 25 June in the House of Commons. The report is available from http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/changing-minds/enterprise-and-society/enterprising-minds

Bridgend's 'Billy Elliott' dances to top spot

A real life 'Billy Elliott' from Bridgend, who has set the dance world alight with a talent and commitment his college tutors had rarely witnessed before, has won a Wales-wide award for his efforts.

Adam Taylor, 18, from Bridgend, has been named Vocational Qualification (VQ) Learner of the Year, an award held annually to mark VQ Day (20 June) and celebrate the achievements of those who have excelled in practical and work-related learning.

Adam was commended for his enthusiasm and passion for dance, something which has already won him a number of accolades both at the national Eisteddfod and on Channel 5's 'Don't Stop Believing' programme. The youngster has also been recognised with a £60,000 scholarship to a prestigious London dance school.

Adam beat off stiff competition from five other learners from across Wales, each shortlisted for their commitment and talent shown while gaining vocational qualifications from colleges and training centres.

The budding dancer was presented with his award, by ex-rugby star Jonathan Davies at a high-profile awards ceremony held at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff to celebrate VQ Day.

Speaking of his VQ Learner of the Year award, Adam said: "I'm delighted to have won the award, it was a massive shock but I'm really pleased.

"I started dancing at the age of 12 and fell in love with it, a few people said they thought I had the talent to turn it in to a career so decided to go for it and enrolled at Bridgend College.

"While I was there my tutors suggested I apply for the Bird School of Performing Arts in London, there were over 20,000 applicants but I was one of the lucky ones awarded a scholarship and I am loving every minute.

"After I've finished training I've set my sights on performing in the West End for a few years but then I'd love to come back to Wales to set up my own dance school in Bridgend."

Eighteen year old Adam was nominated by his tutor at Bridgend College where he has impressed with his commitment to learning, through which he claimed a triple distinction in Level 3 Diploma in Musical Theatre.

Following show-stopping performances in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop dance the Bridgend teen has been awarded with a £60,000 a year three-year scholarship at the world-renowned Bird College of Performing Arts in London.

Adam has also shot to fame on the small-screen through his membership of the TrueDynamix vocal dance group which reached the final of Channel 5's talent search programme, 'Don't Stop Believing'.

VQ Day is held annual to celebrate the success of tens of thousands of people across Wales who successfully achieve vocational qualifications, in a wide variety of subjects such as carpentry, beauty therapy and childcare. It is organised in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales with the support of the Welsh Government and part financed by the European Social Fund.

Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, congratulated all the finalists on their achievements, commitment and talent that sets them apart from their peers.

He said: "I would like to congratulate Adam Taylor for winning this year's award. He and all this year's finalists have proved you can go a long way with vocational qualifications and I hope their stories will be an inspiration to others. Vocational qualifications often don't enjoy the high-profile they deserve but they are immensely valuable in preparing people for successful careers in many different fields. The quality of this vocational learning, as demonstrated by these outstanding people, is a cornerstone of Wales' future as a competitive economy."

The five other finalists were aspiring engineer Scott Kihlberg, 22, from Penarth, children's care and development worker, Sian Preddy, 37, from Bridgend, who overcome profound deafness to achieve top marks in her foundation degree course.

Also in the running was rising hair and beauty star, Charlotte Nicholls, 22, from Wrexham, trainee sports coach and high jumper, Sian Swanson,19, from Newtown, and butchery wizard, Tomos Hopkin, 18, from Pontardawe.

Their success stories represent those of hundreds of learners across Wales who are pointing the way for the growing number of young people in Wales who are opting to pursue vocational learning each year.

Speaking at the VQ Day event ex- Wales rugby international, VQ day ambassador and former apprentice, Jonathan Davies, highlighted the importance of vocational training while praising Adam's achievement.

Mr Davies said: "The importance of learning vocational skills can't be underestimated, I'd urge learners and young people in Wales to maximise opportunities for practical learning and hands-on training, the working environment instils confidence and self-esteem while providing the ability to deal with people from all backgrounds.

"I'm delighted to be the Ambassador for VQ Day in Wales and to host the awards ceremony. It was an honour to meet the finalists, I'd like to praise them for their learning and in particular Adam for his outstanding achievements in the world of dance."

Ends

For further information please contact Caroline Holmes caroline.holmes@workingword.co.uk or David Wilkinson (david.wilkinson@workingword.co.uk) at Working Word on 029 2064 6840 or 07786642881

Top performing colleges and learners awarded

At a glittering ceremony at the Venue Cymru Llandudno on 31 May, outstanding learners and teachers were recognised as the top performers across colleges in Wales, and six 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 2012 was notably high. Taking inspiration from the Olympics, 'Raising the Bar' was the theme of the day's annual conference and the evening's award ceremony.

Indeed, coinciding with annual conference and award ceremony, the Minister for Education Leighton Andrews, in his letter to colleges outlining the Welsh Government's priorities for the further education sector, states: "In recent years, the FE sector has gone from strength to strength".

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "With the Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert delivering a highly positive speech to the annual conference and with the Minister for Education Leighton Andrews' timely letter in which he recognises colleges substantial achievements, it was fitting that the evening ended with showcases of the very best of college practices.

"Congratulations to all the winners and to those who were shortlisted. 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:

  • Governance: joint winners Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and Deeside College
  • Promoting Inclusive Learning: Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Quality Partnerships: Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Higher Education in Further Education: Bridgend College
  • Investing in Staff Development: Bridgend College
  • Teaching and Learning: Yale College Wrexham

In addition to the seven categories of ColegauCymru Awards 2012 open to colleges, the ColegauCymru Awards 2012 also recognised two individuals: a Learner of the Year and a Teacher of the Year.

Dr John Graystone continued: "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 Sara Davies of Bridgend College and Helen Hodgkinson of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, who were jointly awarded the Teacher of the Year Award against a very strong shortlist.

"Outstanding learners are of course the success story of colleges. Congratulations to the winner David Bowen of Coleg Sir Gâr in winning the Learner of the Year Award. He is an outstanding role model with a WorldSkills Medallion of Excellence already under his belt."

Dr Graystone continued: "The ColegauCymru Awards 2012 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, Pearson, OCR Cymru, RSC Wales, Tribal Education and the Welsh Government."

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 19 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 31 May 2012 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno.

3. Photographs of the award winners are available on request.

4. The categories of the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2012 and their sponsors (in brackets) with the shortlisted colleges and winners (w):

Awards for Individuals

Learner of the year (ColegauCymru / CollegesWales): David Bowen, Coleg Sir Gâr (w); Rhys Willett, Cardiff and Vale College; William Antony, Yale College Wrexham; Rebecca Jones, Deeside College.
Teacher of the year (RSC Wales): Helen Hodgkinson, Grwp Llandrillo Menai (w); Sara Davies, Bridgend College (w); Simon Haslam, Pembrokeshire College; Jonathon Shaw Deeside College.

Awards for Institutions
Governance (Tribal): Grŵp Llandrillo Menai (w); Deeside College (w); Gower College Swansea.
Promoting Inclusive Learning (Agored Cymru): Coleg Sir Gâr (w); Coleg Harlech WEA (N); Pembrokeshire College.
Quality Partnerships (OCR Cymru): Coleg Sir Gâr (w); Gower College Swansea; joint submission by Ystrad Mynach College, Coleg Morgannwg, Merthyr Tydfil College, Coleg Gwent.
Higher Education in Further Education (Pearson): Bridgend College (w); Grŵp Llandrillo Menai; Coleg Morgannwg; Coleg Sir Gâr.
Investing in Staff Development (City & Guilds / ILM): Bridgend College (w); Coleg Gwent; Gower College Swansea.
Teaching and Learning (Welsh Government): Yale College Wrexham (w); Grŵp Llandrillo Menai; Deeside College.

Raising the Bar: colleges take on Olympic challenge

"Raising the Bar", the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual conference and awards ceremony on 31 May 2012 in Llandudno, is this year learning from the spirit of the Olympics.

Despite notable successes, there's never a year when colleges stop trying to improve. When colleges achieve success, the bar is raised, higher and higher each time, and colleges must work that much harder to reach the new target. There's always a new goal and a new aspiration to aim for.

Colleges, learners and staff who have successfully raised the bar over the last year will be revealed at the ColegauCymru Awards evening ceremony. Quality partnerships, teaching and learning, governance, vocational higher education, staff development and promoting inclusive learning are among the award categories. In addition, crowning a teacher of the year and a learner of the year will be the highlight of the evening.

Colleges don't work alone. Working hard alongside colleges as partners in the 'Team Wales education squad' is a diverse range of public, private and third sector organisations, as well as, critically, hundreds of thousands of individual learners.

At the 'Raising the Bar' annual conference 2012, ColegauCymru is therefore delighted to be sharing the stage with some of the college sector's key partners, from business, higher education and the world of sport.
The strong lineup of conference speakers includes:

  • Mario Kreft MBE, Director of Pendine Park Care Organisation, who will give a business view of skills
  • Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales, who will consider how participating in sporting activities can raise aspirations
  • John Hughes, Vice Chancellor of Bangor University, who will look at improving opportunities in higher education in partnership with further education
  • Jeff Cuthbert, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills.

Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru said: "I am delighted with the senior line-up of key speakers at the 'Raising the Bar' conference. Colleges are fully committed to raising standards continually and to work with their partners to explore new ways to improve their responsiveness to the communities they serve.

"The percentage of learners who leave further education colleges with the qualifications they set out to achieve has again improved this year and now stands at 81%. Colleges are continuing apace with the Welsh Government's drive to transform the post-16 education and training landscape, with new partnerships and collaborations with schools, other colleges, universities and work-based providers, as well as mergers between colleges. But there is no complacency. Improving quality is very much work in progress."

In addition to the key speakers, the workshops too, will consider challenges and seek solutions. Covering topics as varied as planning and funding, teaching and learning, working with employers and progression to higher education, developing international opportunities, improving essential skills as well as the Olympic legacy, the workshops will be of considerable interest to the 120 plus delegates.

Dr Graystone concluded: "The conference speakers both from the platform and in the workshops will I'm certain be challenging and inspiring. I hope that the discussions at the conference will lead to a host of new ideas and the sharing of good practice helping to raise the quality bar to an Olympic gold standard across all colleges in Wales."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 2500.

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 19 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 categories and sponsors of the ColegauCymru Awards 2012 are:
Teaching and Learning (Welsh Government)
Investing in Staff Development (City & Guilds/Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM))
Higher Education in Further Education (Pearson)
Governance (Tribal)
Promoting Inclusive Learning (Agored Cymru)
Quality Partnerships (OCR Cymru)
Teacher of the Year (RSC Wales)
Learner of the Year (ColegauCymru)

3. The colleges to reach the shortlists are: Grŵp Llandrillo Cymru, Deeside College, Yale College Wrexham, Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Sir Gâr, Gower College Swansea, Bridgend College, Coleg Morgannwg, Merthyr Tydfil College, Coleg Gwent, Ystrad Mynach College, Cardiff and Vale College.

4. The Awards Ceremony is held in the evening of 31 May 2012 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, following the ColegauCymru Annual Conference at the same venue.3.

Wales' Learners to Upskill in Europe

The prospects of college learners across Wales are set for a huge boost following the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme decision to award CollegesWales (UK) International €216,000 to develop the skills and employability of apprentices and full-time students through work placements in Europe.

CollegesWales (UK) International is delighted to have been awarded a further two years of Leonardo da Vinci funding, doubling the value of last year's highly successful pilot project which came to an end last month.

The aim of the new project is to support twelve colleges across Wales in securing and supporting two-week and three-week work placements in Europe for full-time students and apprentices from Wales, working with partners across eight other European countries. The range of industries and types of work placements included in the new project will increase significantly, encompassing childcare, engineering, hair and beauty, catering and agriculture amongst others.

The project will build on partnerships developed through the pilot year of work placements. In addition, Wales' colleges will also been given the opportunity to strengthen partnerships in their own right, which will aid the sustainability of future European exchanges.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I am delighted and proud that CollegesWales (UK) International has led such an impressive collaboration bid with so many partners both across Wales and Europe. We have made a good start over the last 12 months in developing work placement opportunities in Europe for apprentices from Wales. The next two years will enable us to build in sustainability and look at work placements in Europe as a core part of vocational education and training.

"A number of countries in Europe have already achieved a lot of success in developing the skills of their learners through international skills development programmes such as this one. I'm proud that, through the efforts of CollegesWales (UK) International, Wales, too, is now being added to the European map and that learners from Wales will have similar opportunities to their European peers and be able to learn for good practice in many countries. I'm particularly pleased that the bid was rated 'excellent' by the judging panel, making the proposal one of the best in the UK."

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 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 part of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

3. In March 2011 ColegauCymru / CollegesWales heard that it had been successful in its first ever bid to the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme: Leonardo. The project bid's key aim was to facilitate work placements in Europe for apprentices from Wales. Today's announcement relates to the second bid made by CollegesWales (UK) International for Leonardo funding. The new project will begin later in 2012.

Money for Life Senedd Showcase

Lloyds TSB's Money for Life financial capability and personal money skills programme that targets young people celebrated key milestones at a special event at the National Assembly for Wales' Senedd in Cardiff on Tuesday night.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert hosted a reception to showcase the success of the programme, which is funded by Lloyds Banking Group and delivered in Wales by ColegauCymru/CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW).

The Lloyds TSB Money for Life programme aims to develop vital money management skills in trainers as well as learners across the further education (FE) sector, including colleges, work based learning providers and a wide range of organisations that are rooted in their local communities.

The programme has two key strands: firstly, developing the skills of those who work with young people and secondly, providing opportunities for young people to develop their own skills.

The training courses for those working with young people, Teach Me and Teach Others, give staff the knowledge, skills and confidence to work with young people to develop their financial capability.

A key success has been the capacity to reach a diverse range of community-based organisations, including housing associations, Gingerbread, Communities First, Trading Standards, Barnardo's, Credit Unions, the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as colleges and work-based learning providers, with almost 200 recruited so far.

Staff are now much more able to support young people in learning about managing money.

Learners have been developing their own money management skills through Lloyds TSB's Money for Life Challenge. The Challenge is a competition that aims to find successful and innovative ways to improve the money management skills of learners, their friends, families and communities.

Showcasing their initiative to Assembly Members and guests at the Senedd event was the Lloyds TSB Money for Life Money for Life Challenge winner for Wales, the Don't Buy Posh – Save Your Dosh team from ACT Training Bridgend, who will carry the nation's hopes to the UK Grand Final in London on May 23.

The rising cost of food that leaves many people with little money at the end of the week to spend on other household essentials inspired the Don't Buy Posh Save Your Dosh team to host taste tests and set up a cut price cafe for a day to demonstrate that expensive isn't always best.

Showcasing the computer game that won them the People's Choice prize was Money Maze, a team of IT learners from Gower College Swansea. Other Lloyds TSB Money for Life Money for Life Challenge finalists and highly commended teams also joined the showcases.

ColegauCymru is now working with the Welsh Government, the National Grid for Learning and others to ensure that the high quality resources on money management developed as a result of the Teach Me and Teach Others programmes as well as by Lloyds TSB Money for Life Money for Life Challenge teams are made available to all.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert AM commended the Lloyds TSB Money for Life programme and said it had an important role to play in the Welsh Government's mission to eradicate child poverty.

"In the current economic climate, learning financial and money skills are as important as they have ever been," he added. "I am very encouraged to see the progress that the Money for Life programme has made in developing the skills of those who work with young people and providing opportunities for young people to develop their own skills."

Allan Griffiths, Lloyds Banking Group's area director commercial, said: "Our customers and communities are at the very heart of everything we do. As a bank we should be helping people – not just our customers, but the communities in which we operate – get better at managing their money.

"That's precisely why Lloyds Banking Group is proud to support people dealing with 'live' money issues through the Money for Life Programme. After all, managing your money is one of the most important skills you can learn."

Other speakers included ColegauCymru chief executive Dr John Graystone and National Training Federation for Wales' chief executive Arwyn Watkins, who said he hoped the Lloyds TSB Money for Life Challenge would become a feature of future curriculum planning.

Ends

For further information regarding this press release contact Duncan Foulkes on Tel: 01686 650818 or Elliot Hughes, Manager, Money for Life Programme, on 07557 938 974.

Notes to editors:
The Money for Life programme is a partnership between Lloyds Banking Group and further education 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. The partners include National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Scotland's Colleges, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Educational Guidance Service for Adults and Toynbee Hall and the National Training Federation Wales.

Picture caption
:
Speakers (front from left) National Training Federation for Wales' chief executive Arwyn Watkins, Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert, Lloyds Banking Group's area director commercial Allan Griffiths and ColegauCymru chief executive Dr John Graystone with learners at the Senedd reception.

Winning Money for Life

Winners of the Wales final of the Money for Life Challenge 2012, who will carry the Welsh flag proudly in the UK Grand Final on 23 May, is the Don't Buy Posh Save Your Dosh team from ACT Training Bridgend. The Money for Life Challenge is a competition designed to find the most successful and innovative ways to improve the money management skills of learners, their friends, families and communities.

Money for Life Challenge is part of the Money for Life programme, a partnership between Lloyds Banking Group and further education sector partners in the four nations of the UK. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales manages the programme in Wales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales.

The rising cost of food that leaves many people with little money at the end of the week to spend on other household essentials inspired the Don't Buy Posh – Save Your Dosh team from ACT Training Bridgend to come up with money saving advice for young people. They targeted other young people at their training centre aged between 16-18 years who were often spending large amounts on their weekly shop without realising the savings they could make. They also hosted taste sessions and cooked a meal for a local community group Mental Health Matters.

"It's shocking and amazing to win and to represent our country in London," said Paige. "The project has boosted our confidence and the teamwork has been brilliant."

Sarah Porretta, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group, said: "I am so impressed with the originality, creativity and enthusiasm shown by the teams, which is really inspiring.

"The Challenge focuses on equipping a new generation with the skills they need to best manage their money, helping them to realise their everyday needs and lifetime goals and allowing them to develop these skills and put them into practice.

"We look forward to welcoming the winning team to the UK Grand Final to be held on May 23. I only wish we could take all the Wales finalists."

The other Wales finalists were Debtly Matters from St David's Catholic College, Cardiff Drive Well Spend Less from ACT Training in Cardiff, Every Penny Counts from Port Talbot A4e Centre and Budget Brainstormers from Carmarthen Youth Project.

The teams came up with innovative ideas including money saving websites, advice on how to save on fuel and car costs, using drama and a workshop to spread money management skills to young people and buying own-brand foods to cut shopping bills.

Winner of the People's Prize, which was voted for from nine commended projects, was Money Maze from Gower College Swansea, who developed a game with money management, numeracy and literacy questions.

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 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

About the Money for Life Challenge
2. The UK Grand Final takes place on 23 May 2012 in London. The winning team will be awarded £2,500 for a charity of their choice, £100 of Bonus Bonds for each member and a Lloyds Banking Group mentor for a year.

3. The Money for Life Challenge has been created in consultation with further education and community partners across the UK: National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Scotland's Colleges, ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, Educational Guidance Service for Adults and Toynbee Hall. Money for Life Challenge is part of the Money for Life programme, which aims to embed vital money management skills in further education sector institutions or community groups.

4. In Wales, ColegauCymru/CollegesWales manages the Money for Life programme in partnership with the National Training Federation Wales.
5. The final judging panel comprised senior representatives from ColegauCymru/ CollegesWales, the National Training Federation for Wales, Lloyds Bank, NIACE Dysgu Cymru, and NUS Cymru.

Toolbox Launched for Top Quality Teaching in Post-16 Education

Lecturers, course leaders, trainers, mentors and managers in post-16 education are enthusiastically embracing proven effective teaching strategies with renewed vigour, following the launch of a Teachers' Toolbox at the first interactive conference in Wales to focus exclusively on raising the quality of teaching and learning in post-16 education held on Friday 30 March.

Organised by ColegauCymru with the support of the Welsh Government, the Teaching and Learning Conference drew over 230 delegates from a spectrum of post-16 education providers, including all of Wales' further education colleges, as well as a number from work-based learning and community learning.

Led by Geoff Petty, author of the UK's best-selling teacher training text, delegates actively participated in highly effective teaching strategies. And in order to help share the theory and the best teaching practice more widely, ColegauCymru launched an online Teachers' Toolbox.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Learners rely on excellent teaching to achieve success. Over recent years, colleges have consistently improved their quality profile. The college sector is good, very good, but there are still areas that can be improved. The Teaching and Learning Conference was the first to focus exclusively on teaching strategies and it's testament to the FE sector that all of Wales' further education colleges participated in the conference.

"Much of the positive feedback was touching and heartfelt, including this comment from a delegate which encapsulates the whole enterprise of teaching and learning: 'At the end of a Friday afternoon I was shattered but left very positive and eager to try out the strategies and share them with colleagues. I hope my learners leave my lessons feeling that they have learned as much as I have today and eager to follow their learning'.

"Teaching and learning are at the heart of what we do and inspired teachers and learners are what we want. It appears that we're on the right track.

"I very much hope that teachers and managers will draw on the support of ColegauCymru's Teachers' Toolbox to improve teaching. It is a valuable contribution to colleges' professional communities of learning and assists colleges and other training providers to share ideas and support each other through the continuous development of good practice.

"The end goal is for educators and managers to be able say with confidence and with hand on heart that we're doing our best for learners."

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 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 Teaching and Learning Conference took place on 30 March 2012 at the All Nations Centre, Cardiff. It was hosted by ColegauCymru with the support of the Welsh Government.

3. The programme and conference pack as well as additional materials are available from the Teachers' Toolbox: http://moodle.colegaucymru.ac.uk

New Libya Learns from Wales

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was delighted to welcome to Wales last week a delegation from the new Libyan Government to learn how colleges in Wales are driving to improve quality, developing their vocational curriculum, engaging with employers and providing young people with purposeful learning experiences.

The week-long visit, coordinated by CollegesWales (UK) International, took the delegation from the Libyan Ministry of Labour to visit Neath Port Talbot College, Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg Llandrillo, Deeside College, Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Gwent, the Sector Skills Alliance, and Careers Wales. They also participated in in-depth discussions on quality, policy and funding with ColegauCymru and the Welsh Government.

Khaled Elbaruni from the Ministry of Labour said: "Through this visit, the delegation from the Libyan Government has been able to concentrate on raising standards and increasing the employability prospects of the young people of Libya. We were delighted to have been given such a warm welcome to Wales and to have been able to meet a number of experts involved in the labour market and vocational training and a range of partners in Wales, taking in colleges, businesses and political institutions.

"A great deal is changing in Libya. Communities now have more freedom but there is a lack of infrastructure and skills development. Our purpose in coming to Wales was to identify critical success factors affecting strategy, plans, policies and organisations' performance. We return to Libya with a good understanding of high quality skills development and how it relates to the labour market. I very much hope that we will be able to work with experts in Wales as we move forward in developing policies appropriate for Libya that will help improve the situation of the Libyan people.

"Finally, I'd like to thank CollegesWales (UK) International for their hospitality, the respectful advice we received and its readiness to help Libya grow and meet the challenges we face in improving our standards of performance in vocational education and training, and in helping our youth in particular to develop skills for employability."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "CollegesWales was delighted to be able to welcome this important delegation from Libya to Wales. The delegates clearly recognised the high standards colleges set themselves in Wales in developing skills and in continually raising quality".

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 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.

3. The delegation visited Wales from 18-24 March. The delegation comprised of officials from the Libyan Government's Ministry of Labour and young people from different cities whose aim is to help communicate the intentions of the Government on education and training to the next generation.

4. The delegation was sponsored by the British Council and was the last in a series of three delegations to Wales from Libya on post-16 education this month. The British Council Libya had originally approached the Wales International Consortium, with whom it had previously developed a relationship, for assistance in identifying appropriate lead partners in Wales to host the three delegations. The Wales International Consortium identified CollegesWales (UK) International as an appropriate host for the delegation concentrating on vocational education and training.

5. In the photograph: the Libyan delegation with Sian Holleran, CollegesWales (UK) Coordinator, and John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive.

Rewarding Money Skills

How good are your money skills? Could you ever be a victim of a scam? If times got rough would you fall prey to a loan shark? These are some of the questions and issues that college students the length and breadth of Wales are getting to grips with as part of the Barclays Money Skills Weeks throughout March and April.

Working with 13 colleges in Wales and in partnership with ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Barclays Money Skills Weeks is an initiative designed to strengthen students' financial skills and knowledge, reduce their financial stress, and increase their chances of achieving their goals in life.

A wide range of practical and useful activities on managing money include: 'Small Savings Big Rewards', 'Style on a Budget', 'Dealing with Debt', 'Keeping Up with my Bills', 'Taste Test', budgeting for living independently, the value of keeping a personal budget, and spotting scams.

Learning important life-skills such as managing money can often appear daunting and too emotionally charged to fully understand. So it's a real pleasure to know that the Barclays Money Skills Weeks also has a creative and fun element. The 'Top tips' competition asks students to provide great money-saving tips. And a photographic competition invites students to take a photograph based on the theme 'My money style'.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Knowing how to budget and how to save are critically important life skills that students need in order to be able to reduce financial stress and stay focused on their education goals. I'm delighted that 13 of Wales further education colleges are providing these opportunities for their learners this year. In addition, I'm sure that presenting such a serious topic using fun and creative elements will help make sure the money management messages stick."

Winners of the Wales competitions will go forward to the UK finals with a hope of winning an experience of Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf.

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. Barclays Money Skills 'weeks' is an initiative designed to strengthen students' financial skills and knowledge, reduce their financial stress, and increase their chances of achieving their education goals.

3. Building skills for the future: The programme will be delivered to more than 160 further education (FE) colleges, reaching more than 100,000 students across the UK.

The interactive week-long events are designed to be entertaining and informative. Activities are based on topics that interest students, such as food, fashion, family and independent living. Students are given the opportunity to build crucial skills for the future and gain knowledge of personal finance issues and controlling their budget.

The programme is delivered in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, together with ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Scotland's Colleges, and the Education Guidance Service for Adults in Northern Ireland.

4. All participating colleges are supported by small grants and from the business community, led by Barclays volunteers who will volunteer to help colleges with the planning and/or delivery of activities during Barclays Money Skills Weeks.

5. The 13 colleges participating in Money Skills Weeks 2012 are:
Gower College Swansea (5 March)
Deeside College (12 March)
Merthyr Tydfil College (12 March)
Coleg Ceredigion (12 March)
Neath Port Talbot College (12 March)
Coleg Powys (12 March)
Yale College Wrexham (19 March)
Pembrokeshire College (19 March)
St David's Catholic College (19 March)
The College Ystrad Mynach (26 March)
Cardiff and Vale College (Cardiff and Barry sites) (26 March)
Coleg Sir Gâr (23 April)
Coleg Llandrillo Cymru (23 April)

Entrepreneurial Basques Learn from Wales

Entrepreneurship champions from the Basque Country's technical colleges are in Wales this week to learn about how further education colleges are leading and managing change, and to consider possible future collaborations between the Basque Country and Wales.

In a dynamic week of activities, the Basque Country delegation will hear from a number of further education colleges as well as governmental organisations, private companies and participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Cymru final. The visit, hosted by CollegesWales (UK) International, will also look to identify collaborative opportunities and enable young entrepreneurs from Wales and the Basque Country to develop links.

Unai Diago Santamarina, a teacher at Salesianos Deusto Technical College, Bilbao and a member of the delegation said: "Our Basque Country delegation of ten entrepreneurship champions is looking to make recommendations to policy makers, improve student training and the quality and sustainability of companies involved in entrepreneurship activity.

"On our first day here in Wales we have been particularly interested to hear about the huge amount of effort colleges in Wales are putting into improving their cost effectiveness through collaborations and mergers. We were also very excited to hear about the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification which brings together academic and vocational routes in a single qualification. We are now looking forward to exploring the industry standard facilities in colleges such as hair and beauty salons which are open to the public."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "CollegesWales (UK) International is delighted to host a visit for Basque Country entrepreneurship educators. The first day's visit has been fruitful in opening up new discussions on the teaching of entrepreneurship.

"The Basque Country and Wales are strikingly similar, each with a devolved government, two official languages and a similar population size, and each working to meet similar economic and educational challenges including basic skills issues and sustaining businesses through educating the workforce to high quality industry standards.

"Colleges in Wales are always ready to share their expertise and learn from others, looking outside the box for solutions to the issues that face us. I'm delighted that the work of CollegesWales (UK) International is able to facilitate such dialogue with like-minded professionals from other countries."

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, visitwww.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The week of activities include an introduction to vocational education and training in Wales, entrepreneurship education in colleges, and visits to the QED Centre, Business in Focus, Groundwork Wales, Taste of Experience, Nant Ddu Lodge and Penderyn Whisky Distillery. Members of the delegation will also participate on the judging panels at the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Cymru on 14 March, the Urdd centre, Cardiff Bay.


3. The delegation of ten entrepreneurship champions is led by Maria Pilar Diez Mintegui, Coordinator for Youth Entrepreneurship at TKNIKA – the Basque government-funded centre for innovation in the vocational education and training sector. The delegation's visit is funded by the Leonardo programme of European funding for Vocational Education and Training Professionals (VETPRO).

Colleges' ambition: a bilingual workforce

Taking pride in the Welsh language and recognising its benefits in the world of work were the key messages at the first event of its kind for Welsh-speaking vocational students. Organised by a new partnership comprised of further education colleges: Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Gwent, Bridgend College, together with Welsh language and cultural organisations, the Urdd and Mentrau Iaith, the event followed on from St David's Day celebrations.

Vocational students in further education colleges have a keen eye on the workplace. They learn trades and business skills that are directly applicable to the world of work. Most choose to put their qualifications to use locally, staying in their communities to work. The language and culture that they practise and value alongside their professional skills therefore have a direct impact on the nature of communities in Wales.

The event on 2 March provided an real opportunity for Welsh-speaking college students from across south east Wales to identify with a larger peer community and to reflect on the value of Welsh language skills to the workplace and in business and to encourage them to continue to use and further develop their skills.

Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Cardiff, Delme Bowen, said: "Your language is part of your identity. Enrich the world with your language and your culture. Having the Welsh language is an asset. Indeed, being multi-lingual is an asset."

Geraint Evans ,Chair of Cardiff and Vale College who is also a successful businessman and Chair of Business in Focus, shared his experience of the direct value his Welsh language skills have brought to him in business, even in an area where Welsh is not widely spoken. His message was followed and reinforced by presentations from a range of companies in the private and public sector representing tourism, public services, childcare and a recruitment agency.

Bleddyn Lewis, 18, BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design student at Cardiff and Vale College said: "This day has broadened my vision of the Welsh language. It has made me realise that having the ability to speak Welsh gives me an advantage in the workplace in Wales."

Rebecca Townsend-Ryan, 18, a student at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg said: "After doing a work placement in a school, I've had a job offer as a Learning Support Assistant and I feel that the Welsh language played a fundamental role in this. However, I've learnt today that there is a better way to write a CV and promote to employers that I can speak Welsh. I feel that year eleven students would benefit highly from this experience."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, concluded: "'Do the little things' was Saint David's message. It is so much easier to maintain and hone a skill by using it daily than it is to have to start all over again in later life if it's left to fall into disrepair. This event reminded Wales' future entrepreneurs and employees that, for those with a good foundation in Welsh, having learnt the language at school or at home, there is value in maintaining and developing those skills throughout a college and working career. The beneficiaries are not only the individuals but also the local community and wider Wales."

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 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. Photograph: Cardiff Mayor Delme Bowen speaking at the event. Courtesy of Cardiff and Vale College.

Event marks new era in working with students

Further education institutions have now signed up to a commitment to make sure that students on their higher education courses are more involved in influencing their time at college.

The Wales Initiative for Student Engagement - WISE - was set up in 2009 to ensure that students in universities played an active role in shaping their higher education (HE) experience.

WISE pledges to improve how higher education students give and receive feedback - including contributing to external quality reviews of the institution - with a view to improving their learning environment, whether they study at universities or further education colleges.

Students and university and college representatives will be coming together at an event in the Senedd today to mark this new era in working together.

Today's WISE event in Cardiff Bay will be addressed by the Education Minister Leighton Andrews and the President of the NUS in Wales, Luke Young, who have already welcomed the contributions made so far in connecting institutions with students. Professor John Hughes, chair of Higher Education Wales, will also address the audience.

Professor Philip Gummett, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), said: "Students are experts on their own experiences of higher education. Through greater interaction between them and their HE institution, we hope students will inspire positive changes that they will find rewarding, and that will benefit their institution and the learning experiences of future students."

Luke Young, president of NUS Wales, said: "Students are partners in their education and we should celebrate this distinctly Welsh approach. We have much to do to make this vision a reality, but the united support for strong and effective students' unions, alongside the Have Your Say project, are pushing this agenda forward."

Amanda Wilkinson, director of Higher Education Wales, said: "Listening to the needs and views of students is the key to delivering an innovative and effective higher education sector in Wales. The WISE approach is fast becoming something of a quality standard in student engagement. This event is a great opportunity to celebrate the successes and achievements of the WISE approach across Wales so far and to look forward at the great potential there is to build on this work. Working with our sector partners we can continue to establish Welsh higher education as a leader in placing students at the heart of higher education and giving them the chance to play an active part in shaping and influencing their educational experience."

Greg Walker, deputy chief executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, said: "Thousands of students who are studying higher education courses in Wales choose a further education institution as their higher education provider. It is great news that higher education students in Wales, whether they choose a further education college or a university as their provider, will now be able to benefit from a national approach, where their views and experiences are actively sought in the continuing focus of raising the quality of education in Wales."

Professor Craig Mahoney, chief executive of the Higher Education Academy, said: "Listening to students and understanding their needs is vital to the future success of a modern higher education system. Increasing student involvement through initiatives like WISE ensures that they can play an active role in shaping their education including decision making at all levels in an institution.

"The Higher Education Academy also works with the HE community on student experience surveys: translating National Student Survey results and results from our own postgraduate taught and postgraduate research surveys into data to inform strategy development and improve the student learning experience.

"The HEA is currently working with five Welsh HE institutions on further developing their student charters."

Anthony McClaran, chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), said: "Strong student voices drive quality improvement at institutions. Feedback from students and the valued contributions of student reviewers are essential to our reviews of higher education in Wales. It's important that, as a sector, we do everything we can to get students engaged in the important issues that influence the quality of their education."

Ends

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

Notes to Editors

Case study: Carleigh Connolly student governor at Coleg Morgannwg
Carleigh started as a student representative at her college, then won the election to become a student governor. She's been making a difference as a student governor since September 2011. Some of her biggest wins include securing more common and quiet areas for students in the college's new Nantgarw campus, due to open in September 2012. She's also worked hard to campaign against bullying, bringing in more support for students who are bullied.

More about WISE – Wales Initiative for Student Engagement,www.wisewales.com

The Wales Initiative for Student Engagement event

The Senedd, Cardiff Bay, 15:00 – 17:00
15:00: Arrival, registration, refreshments, networking, music
16:00: Roger Thomas, Chair of HEFCW: welcome and introduction
16:05: Professor John Hughes, Chair of Higher Education Wales (HEW)
16.10: Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Skills
16:20: Luke Young, President of NUS Wales
16:30: Roger Thomas – closing remarks

Showcasing Wales' Theatrical Skills in China

Ten students from two of Wales' colleges are preparing for a trip of a lifetime to celebrate Wales Week in Chongqing, China next week, where they will perform a theatre production of Under Milk Wood and host workshops on costume construction, makeup and performance for their Chinese counterparts.

The cultural exchange is the result of a collaboration between Coleg Morgannwg and Coleg Powys, with coordination provided by CollegesWales (UK) International and funding by the British Council.

A total of ten students and three college staff with expertise in costume design and performing arts are flying to Chongqing on 25 February. Their full itinerary includes a performance during the official opening of Wales Week on 27 February in the company of senior representatives from the Chongqing Municipal Government and the Welsh Government.

Tanya Bevan, Deputy Director for the British Council Wales said: "This is a unique opportunity for these students and we are delighted to support this cultural exchange. Students from China and Wales will benefit from this project as they learn about each other's cultures".

Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg Morgannwg added: "This project will provide an unforgettable experience for our Welsh learners and indeed, those from China. I am sure that our Welsh students will be excellent ambassadors for our country".

Simon Pirotte, Principal of Coleg Powys added: "We are delighted to have been given this opportunity by the British Council and CollegesWales (UK) International. Chongqing is a city of 31 million people. Powys has 130,000 people! Our students will gain a real understanding of their place in a global society. The production and workshops will also help to promote Wales in an important area of world economic development."

Ends

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

Notes to Editors

1. CollegesWales (UK) International is a division of CollegesWales - an educational charity and a company limited by guarantee which represents all of Wales' further education colleges. Its purpose is to work with other countries to offer more opportunities to learners, to broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations.

2. In 2011, eleven of Wales' further education colleges formed a Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium as part of CollegesWales (UK) International. The Wales Week 2012 cultural exchange in which Coleg Morgannwg and Coleg Powys are participating has been coordinated by CollegesWales (UK) International's offices in Wales and Chongqing. For further details on the consortium, visit http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk/en-GB/china-270.aspx

3. Wales Week is an annual celebration organised by the Welsh Government to celebrate the special relationship that exists between Chongqing and Wales. Wales Week 2012 runs from Monday 27th February until Friday 2nd March and will showcase Welsh industry, education, culture and arts, and tourism and highlight the exchanges, co-operation and progress between Wales and Chongqing.

4. The municipality of Chongqing has a population of over 31 million. Chongqing city has a population of over 6 million people. Its main industries are car, motorcycle and aviation manufacturing, the manufacture of consumer goods (laptops), coal mining and heavy industry. The Welsh Government and the Municipal Government of Chongqing have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on industry, education and economic development projects. Delegates from colleges in Wales and Chongqing have undertaken a number of visits to each others' regions and have now developed strong and lasting relationships.

5. The principal of Coleg Powys, Simon Pirotte, will lead the visit on behalf of CollegesWales (UK) International. The participants from Coleg Powys are: one tutor and seven students; and from Coleg Morgannwg, there are three students and two members of staff.

Apprentices benefit from foreign language skills

Today, at the start of National Apprenticeships Week, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is celebrating a new opportunity for apprentices to improve their foreign language skills and gain valuable work experience in different European countries, thanks to a work placement programme coordinated by CollegesWales International.

In the highly competitive global economy, knowledge of modern foreign languages is of tremendous benefit. 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.

Coordinator of CollegesWales International, Siân Holleran, who speaks four languages herself, said: "The European work placement programme is ambitious and challenging for learners. It involves apprentices taking on the responsibility of doing a job of work in a company in Europe. They have to adapt to a new culture, get along with new colleagues and communicate in an unfamiliar language for the duration of their stay. It's a great maturing experience as well as a skill-building opportunity.

"The work placement programme includes language and culture preparation sessions, which means that prior knowledge of the host country's official language is not a prerequisite. Clearly, however, a background in the relevant language serves as a valuable springboard."

Charlotte Hodgens and Joseph Barry are apprentices with the Youth Offending Service (YOS) in Swansea. They are training to be mentors, working with young offenders and 'at risk' young people in the Swansea area. They undertook a three week placement in Italy last autumn, mentoring a diverse group of interns from a range of European countries. Preparations for their placement were coordinated by CollegesWales International with the support of Gower College Swansea, and organised in Italy by Centro Servizi Cultura Sviluppo Srl.

Addressing 120 school pupils at the fourth annual conference of "Wales, Europe & the World", which took place last Friday, Joseph explained the links between their work as apprentices with the Youth Offending Service and their work placement in Italy: "In Swansea, we provide support for older children and young people up to the age of 16. In Italy, the interns we mentored were older, aged 17 plus, but their support needs were comparable. The interns we supported were living in a foreign country for up to ten months, knowing no-one and without prior knowledge of Italian. Our job was to mentor them through difficult patches and nurture a family spirit and build morale".

Charlotte said: "It's important to make the best of opportunities that come your way. It was scary, but so worthwhile. I had never been abroad on my own before this work placement so it was a great personally rewarding and maturing experience for me. In addition, although I'd learnt some Italian at college before I went to Italy, the best way to learn a language is to use it. That's what I did, and in just three weeks my language skills improved markedly. I'm so pleased I had this opportunity. What an awesome apprenticeship this is proving to be!"

Janice Hall, Team Leader at the Family Group Conferencing Unit, which is part of the Youth Offending Service, said: "This has been an incredible opportunity for the trainees to live and work Italy and also to have daily interaction with so many different cultures as CSCS provides work opportunities to young people from a range of European countries. This experience has been personally rewarding for them and it has also provided evidence for their vocational qualification."

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 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 and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. CollegesWales International is the international arm of ColegauCymru.

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

4. In the first year of the CollegesWales International programme, 30 apprentices from colleges across Wales are being supported in work placements in Spain and Italy. 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.

5. Four apprentices from the Youth Offending Service who study at Gower College Swansea, including Charlotte and Joseph, went to Italy in September/October 2011. In Wales, the work placements were coordinated by ColegauCymru. The placements were organised in Italy by Centro Servizi Cultura Sviluppo Srl (CSCS). CSCS is a vocational training provider which is also active in the field of student and staff mobility and supports European educational providers to plan and implement work placements in Italy through www.italymobility.com

6. Charlotte and Joseph were speaking at "Wales, Europe & the World" – a conference to promote languages in the workplace for 14-19 year olds. The conference was organised by Routes into Languages Cymru and took place at Cardiff City Hall on Friday 3 February 2012.

National Debate on Qualifications: Underway

A national debate on qualifications in Wales is well and truly underway with intense discussions and big questions and issues being raised at yesterday's high profile National Conference on Qualifications in Cardiff, hosted by ColegauCymru in partnership with the Welsh Government.

Educationalists from across sectors and all parts of Wales discussed and debated meaty questions on the relevance and assessment of qualifications as well as deliberating how performance should be measured, and specific questions on essential skills and the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.

Following a key contribution from Professor Alison Wolf, the author of the highly influential report on Vocational Qualifications in England that was commissioned by the UK Government last year, the conference also considered the risks and opportunities of qualifications in Wales diverging from those in England.

Here in Wales, the Welsh Government has commissioned a Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds in Wales, led by Huw Evans OBE, and the conference provided the perfect opportunity for members of the Review Team to hear first hand from over 150 educationalists and a range of people who have a key role to play in the qualifications system.

The ensuing discussions were particularly lively and it became clear that the Review Team has a tough task ahead. Issues that were hotly debated included the credibility of particular qualifications, the role of the qualifications regulator, whether the number of qualifications available should be slimmed, and whether competence-based qualifications can be taught in a classroom or only in the workplace.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Everyone has a stake in the qualifications system. Parents, pupils, teachers, businesses and community-based organisations, training providers, colleges, schools, universities and government – we all need to understand the system and have confidence in it. We all in our various ways discuss and evaluate the education system and its qualifications.

"In an effort to give a national platform to these discussions and to turn up the volume so that the Review Team commissioned to undertake the Review of Qualifications in particular could gather evidence, ColegauCymru was delighted to host such a high profile conference, in partnership with the Welsh Government. I am even more pleased that the feedback from the highly interactive and over-subscribed conference is proving so positive.

"The conference is over but the discussions continue. ColegauCymru is now in the process of overhauling its online discussion forum to focus on the questions posed by the Review Team and to include all the conference proceedings. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the forum. It's not often that a Review of Qualifications of this stature comes along. ColegauCymru is delighted to be able to take an active part in gathering relevant evidence that will then be fed into the Review."
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 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 hosted by ColegauCymru in partnership with the Welsh Government is at: http://qualificationsconference.pbworks.com

3. The key speakers included: the Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert; the author of the report on Vocational Qualifications in England, Professor Alison Wolf; the chair of the Review of Qualifications in Wales, Huw Evans OBE.

4. Pictured: Huw Evans OBE, chair of the Review of Qualifications, speaking at the conference. High-res photographs of the conference and the key speakers are available from ColegauCymru.

Money Management: a skill that's on its way to Wales' young people

What do these have in common... a credit union officer, a council's debt and benefit advisor, an ex-offenders' support worker, a trading standards' consumer education officer, plus work-based learning providers and colleges' learner services departments? They are all very keenly aware that many young people need better money management skills to help them through life and enable them to reach their potential. The answer, in part, is 'Teach Others'.

ColegauCymru is nearly half way through its aim of preparing 100 trainers to develop the money management skills of thousands of 16-24 year olds across Wales from all walks of life.

'Teach Others' is a two-day course, funded by Lloyds Banking Group's Money for Life programme, which is available to further education (FE) practitioners, youth and community workers across the UK. It enables those who are not qualified teachers – such as community or advice workers – to plan and facilitate financial capability sessions and workshops. 'Teach Others' is part of the UK-wide Money for Life programme, led in Wales by ColegauCymru in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales.

The Teach Others course includes highly focused, practical sessions on teaching skills, as well as up-to-date knowledge and resources that are relevant to developing the money management skills of young people.

ColegauCymru's Julia Owens, the Money for Life manager in Wales, said: "Some of the personal stories I hear from young people about where their lack of money management skills has led them are truly worrying. Thousands of young people across Wales are in real need of improving their money management skills and I feel privileged to be able to play a small part in addressing such a serious issue."

Cheryll Morgan from Neath Port Talbot College said: "On the road to independence, young people have grand dreams and are in a rush to buy a car and splash out on a holiday with friends. It's so important to help them develop their money management skills early on, before they spend what they can't afford and blight their lives as a consequence."

Helen Griffiths, Student Financial Support Officer at Yale College Wrexham said of the course: "The Teach Others course was very hands-on and interactive. It was a great foundation for non-teaching staff. I've gained a lot of confidence through the course and I'm looking forward to putting my new-found knowledge into practice with the learners at the college."

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 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. Teach Others is a two-day accredited course on money management funded by Lloyds Banking Group as part of its Money for Life Programme: a financial capability and personal money skills programme designed to give people the knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation to manage their money well. Money for Life is funding 1,400 financial capability qualifications – Teach Me and Teach Others – which are available to FE practitioners, youth and community workers across the UK.

3. In Wales, Money for Life is delivered by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales.

4. To book a place on a Teach Others course in Wales, contact Julia Owens, ColegauCymru on T: 029 2052 2500, email hello@collegeswales.ac.uk or follow the links

5. Pictured: participants on the Teach Others course held on 26 January 2012 with tutor Phil Aubrey (far right).

Colleges welcome increase in skills funding

Colleges in Wales have welcomed the Welsh Government's continued investment in adult skills and Pathways to Apprenticeships – programmes that specifically aim to tackle the skills needs of young people and adults in these difficult economic times.

Intended as a one-off response to the recession in 2010, colleges expected the Pathways to Apprenticeships and adult skills programmes to be a temporary initiative. But employers are still finding it difficult to employ apprentices, and young people as well as under-skilled adults are still finding it hard to break into the jobs market. That the Welsh Government has decided to maintain these two valuable programmes for the next academic year has been warmly welcomed by colleges.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The straightened economic climate is affecting businesses, families and individuals. Developing work-ready skills is of crucial importance in getting onto the jobs ladder and this is exactly what the Pathways to Apprenticeships and the adult skills programmes are designed to do.

"These programmes are highly resource-intensive and colleges are expecting the Welsh Government to set tough targets for their delivery. But they are valuable to each individual who can take their new-found skills and progress to employment or further learning."

Dr Graystone continued: "There is more good news. Over the past few years, Wales' colleges have been intensely focused on improving the quality of education and training delivery as well as of financial management, and have succeeded in surpassing Welsh Government performance targets. The newly released funding allocations for colleges for 2012/13 demonstrate that the Welsh Government is taking notice of the further education sector's high quality profile by increasingly putting its trust in colleges to deliver its tough agenda.

"In addition to the continuation of the Pathways to Apprenticeships and the adult skills programmes, and as indicated in last year's draft budget, colleges' baseline funding is set to increase by 2.5% in the next academic year. We fully understand that this is a cash increase and that the perceived increase will probably be wiped out by inflationary pressures and expected efficiency gains. Nonetheless, colleges appreciate that times are tough and that even an increase in cash terms only is something worth noting."

Dr Graystone concluded: "Young people who need a focused skills programme, adults who desperately need to raise their skills levels, colleges that often feel overlooked by decision makers when it comes to sharing out scarce public funds... these all now have reason to be cheerful."

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 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 and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The Welsh Government issued the funding allocations for the academic year 2012/13 to further education colleges and institutions on Thursday 26 January 2012. The allocations show an overall increase in cash terms of 2.5% compared to 2011/12 and the continuation of two separate funding streams: Pathways to Apprenticeships and adult skills.

New Face, New Opportunities for ColegauCymru

ColegauCymru welcomed Greg Walker to the newly created post of Deputy Chief Executive this week.

Until recently, Greg was Deputy Director of Higher Education Wales, part of Universities UK, and prior to that worked within the Welsh Government for a Home Office agency on youth justice matters. Raised in South Wales, Greg was educated in Caerphilly and Cardiff and is due to graduate from Cardiff University later in the year with a PhD.

Hailing the many challenges and opportunities faced by ColegauCymru and further education (FE) colleges as he commenced the new role, Greg Walker said: "It's an exciting period to work in further education in Wales. College leaders have amply demonstrated their ability to take on pivotal agendas in relation to quality and in transforming the delivery of FE across Wales.

"ColegauCymru has been highly effective in raising the profile and status of further education for the benefit of learners right across Wales. FE has a crucial part to play in meeting Wales' skills challenge and the need to equip people to get back into employment at this difficult time. I relish the chance to play a leading role in this work."

Welcoming Greg's apppointment, David Jones, Chair of ColegauCymru, said: "I am delighted to welcome Greg to ColegauCymru. Greg has an impressive track record of working in education and on policy issues relating to young people. He takes on this important role at a time when there are many new opportunities to explore and develop. Greg will work on a range of matters with colleagues, including expanding further education colleges' international horizons and crucial work on quality enhancement. I very much look forward to working closely with him to meet these challenges."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru 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

Competition for Excellence in Further Education Announced

Strong competition between further education colleges is expected again this year as the categories for the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2012 open to applications.

The annual awards aim to identify and celebrate excellence in the further education (FE) sector in Wales. 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:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Investing in Staff Development
  • Higher Education in Further Education
  • Governance
  • Promoting Inclusive Learning Quality Partnerships

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

  • Teacher of the Year
  • Learner of the Year

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The awards recognise outstanding achievement, highlight the breadth of provision in further education and celebrate collaboration between institutions and other organisations.

"ColegauCymru 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. I am very grateful to these sponsors for their support."

The awarding ceremony coincides with the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales' Annual Conference dinner on 31 May 2012 in Llandudno.

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 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 and the colleges it represents visit www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. Click for further information on the annual awards, including the criteria and application process.
3. Sponsors of the 2012 Awards:
Agored Cymru
City & Guilds/Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM)
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales
Edexcel
OCR
RSC Wales
Tribal Education
Welsh Government

3. The independent panels judging the applications for the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2012 comprise of senior staff from influential bodies including the award sponsors.
4. The deadline for applications is 27 February 2012. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the ColegauCymru Annual Conference on 31 May 2012 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. To sponsor or exhibit at the annual conference please contact Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or email Sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk