News Archive 2014

08/12/14: 80 teams of young people from across Wales awarded £500 each for community money management projects

Young people participating in the Money for Life Challenge, an initiative run by Lloyds Banking Group in partnership with CollegesWales and Youth Cymru.

Teams of 16 to 24 year olds from Wales have secured £500 grants to run innovative projects focussed on improving money management. The award comes as part of the Money for Life Challenge, a national competition, now in its fourth year, which helps young people in further education; training and community organisations acquire new skills while helping develop the money management capability of their community.

The 80 teams from Wales are among 340 across the UK participating in the award-winning programme.

Rachel Dodge, Project Manager for Money for Life in Wales, said: "Money management skills are vital to our everyday lives and we are delighted that so many teams from Wales will take part in the Money for Life Challenge this year. Each team has devised a project to help others in their local community and we are excited to see them put their ideas into practice. I'm really looking forward to seeing how each project evolves over the next three months."

The teams from across Wales will spend the next three months rolling out their projects and are then set to submit them to the Money for Life Challenge judges, who will choose the best teams to present at a national final in Cardiff on 28 April 2015. The national winners will be awarded £1,000 to donate to a registered charity of their choice and will be invited to represent Wales at the UK Grand Final in London on 28 May 2015.

David Rowsell, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group said: "Promoting good money management is more important now than ever before, and the Money for Life programme exists to address a pressing need for greater financial awareness across UK communities. The Challenge projects this year show how much young people care about these issues and I'm excited to see how they put them into action.

The Money for Life programme helps equip communities across the UK with the skills and capabilities they need to make the most of their money and sits at the core of our Group's commitment to Help Britain Prosper. I wish the all the teams from Wales the best of luck as they get their projects off the ground."

To find out who has been successful and for more information on the Money for Life Challenge, please go to: www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk, visit Facebook: www.facebook.com/moneyforlifeuk or Twitter: www.twitter.com/moneyforlifeuk

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Improving Numeracy in Wales with a Little Help from Canada

A senior delegation of teaching and learning experts from Wales' colleges have just returned from a whirlwind tour of six Canadian colleges, where they explored the key issue of improving learners' literacy and numeracy skills.

Estyn recognises that further education colleges in Wales are good. But our colleges never rest on their laurels. They are continually striving to improve teaching and learning. Excellence is their goal.

A key task by colleges is to reduce the link between poverty and educational attainment. Another is to support the many young people and adults who arrive at further education college with poor literacy and numeracy skills.

Canada has a reputation for getting to grips with these very issues, and so it was that the colleges in Wales, through ColegauCymru's Teaching and Learning Network, went on a five-day mission to six colleges in Ontario between 24 and 28 November.

By collaborating, eight of Wales' 15 further education institutions were able to benefit directly from the visit to Canada. In addition, through the ColegauCymru Teaching and Learning Network, the delegation is committed to sharing the key learnings and ideas from the visit with the whole college network.

Of key interest to the Welsh delegation was seeing how the Ontario system for improving literacy and numeracy skills makes explicit links to the needs of employers. Support is provided in the classroom and online, using subject specialists to teach both literacy and numeracy. Just as in Wales, they focus on identifying and filling the specific gaps in the skills of those students coming to them from school.

A member of the Wales delegation, Bridgend College Vice Principal, Robert Evans, said: "We received a terrific welcome from each Canadian college. We were able to participate in master classes and lectures, and experience teaching with some of the best resources for vocational education in North America.

"The development of specific literacy and numeracy skills to meet the needs of different occupational areas was a key feature. Students then apply these skills in live projects, often designed by industry.

"We hope to further develop the excellent relationships established by sharing resources, developing staff and student placements and by holding a number of dissemination events."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Greg Walker, said: "I am particularly pleased that colleges decided to work together on a collaborative approach. This intensive visit to six colleges and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in Canada is already proving its worth. Partnerships are being formed, ideas are flowing. I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism of the delegation from Wales and thank most sincerely the support of British Council Wales in enabling this learning opportunity.

"Colleges in Wales may be looking at very challenging budgets over the next few years, but they are looking at every opportunity to maintain and improve quality and achieve excellence in teaching and learning. Through ColegauCymru's Teaching and Learning Network, colleges are pooling good practice from within Wales and further afield and going from strength to strength together."

Chris Lewis, head of education at British Council Wales, said: "We were very pleased to fund this study tour. We're keen to develop the skills sector in Wales and sharing best practice with colleagues abroad can be one of the best ways of developing the education sector at a professional and college level."

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Response to unions' decision to ballot for strike action

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru Greg Walker said: "College governing bodies will decide whether to award a cost of living increase for staff once next year's funding from the Welsh Government becomes clear in the next couple of months.

"Decisions on pay awards are never taken lightly. Many college staff have already received an increase in pay this year by progressing through their pay scales. In addition, since last month, all staff working for colleges are being paid at least the Living Wage.

"It's a difficult situation in which there will be increases in employers' national insurance contributions and teachers' pensions next year, whilst colleges are expecting significantly less funding from the Welsh Government over the next two years. All that is in addition to real-terms budget cuts over the previous three years.

"As we consider options for the future I trust that the interests of learners will be foremost in the minds of all colleagues working in the FE sector."

Women's sport takes centre stage at Welsh Colleges Sport Competitions

Hooked onto sport? Oh yes! Entries have doubled for Welsh Colleges Sport competitions this year, with over 1,000 competitors – half of them women – competing in 11 different sports in preparation for the British championships early next year.

This year, the Welsh qualifying events for the British championships in Bath - the AoC Sport National Championships - have seen 12 further education colleges fielding teams from 20 campuses at 8 venues across north and south Wales, with the latest held in Cardiff on 10 November.

Women's sport in particular has seeing a huge increase, especially in netball and football. This year has also seen record entries in squash and golf, plus significant increases in basketball, badminton and tennis.

ColegauCymru Sport Coordinator, Rob Baynham, said: "We all hear of how young adults, especially women, don't do enough sport. But at Wales' further education colleges, it is very much an improving picture. 500 young women competed in the competitions on 10 November alone. A further 130 young women competed in the Welsh Colleges Sport football festival in Merthyr and around 80 competed in the Welsh trials in Wrexham last month.

"The range of competitive sports opportunities is developing too at Wales' colleges, with a big jump in entries in a number of competitions for both young men and women. Squash, golf, badminton, basketball and tennis: they're all seeing growth in interest at national competition level, and we're also starting new competitions in mountain biking and surfing soon to respond to student demand.

"Sport brings so much to individuals: better health, leadership, teamwork, organisation skills, a sense of belonging and camaraderie. But getting over 1,000 competitors to venues across Wales takes a lot of time and hard work. Staging these competitions is truly a team effort and could not happen without the dedication of college staff and the support of sport governing bodies, student volunteers and host venues.

"The work continues after the trials of course, with the winners now set to represent Wales at the British colleges' championships in March. We'll be there in force, aiming for glory for the Welsh Colleges team."

Winners of the Welsh Colleges Sport competitions to date, who will represent Wales at the AoC National Sport Championships, are:

Basketball - Men: Cardiff and Vale College
Rugby 7s – Men: Coleg y Cymoedd
5 a-side Football - Men: Coleg Meirion Dwyfor
5 a-side Football - Women: The College Merthyr Tydfil
Netball - Women: Gower College Swansea
Volleyball - Men: Coleg y Cymoedd
Volleyball - Women: Coleg y Cymoedd
Hockey – Men: Gower College Swansea
Hockey – Women: Coleg Meirion Dwyfor
Tennis – Men's Singles: Rhys Jenkins, Coleg Sir Gâr
Tennis – Women's Singles: Charlotte Irvine, Gower College Swansea
Tennis - Men's Doubles: Jack Morris and Nikki Williams, NPTC Group - Newtown
Tennis Women's Doubles: Becky Davies and Charlotte McKeown, Coleg Cambria
Table Tennis – Men's Singles: Chris Jones, Coleg Cambria - Yale
Table Tennis – Men's Doubles: Bradley Abrahams and Peter Morse, Gower College Swansea
Badminton – Men's Singles: Justin Davies, NPTC Group - Newtown
Badminton – Men's Doubles: Luke Pierce and Ben Richards, Pembrokeshire College
Badminton - Women's Singles: Olivia Williams, Coleg Gwent Cross Keys
Badminton – Women's Doubles: Nicole Griffiths and Louise Bell, Coleg Gwent - Cross Keys
Squash – Men: Emyr Evans, Coleg Llandrillo
Squash – Women: Elin Harlow, Coleg Llandrillo
Golf – Men's team: Lewis Mackenzie, Coleg Cambria - Yale; Chester Morgans, Gower College Swansea; Joe Lewis–Phillips, Gower College Swansea; Darren Owen, Coleg Menai
Golf – Women's team: Hannah Bowen, Chloe Saltmarsh, and Mollie Lewis, NPTC Group - Neath; and Sadie Dewinton-Davies, NPTC Group - Newtown

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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 Welsh Colleges Sport trials took place on 13 October in Wrexham and 10 November in Cardiff at the following venues: Gôl Football Centre, Cardiff; House of Sport, Cardiff; Sport Wales National Centre; Glyndŵr University; Wrexham Tennis Centre; Brymbo Squash Club; Henlle Parc Golf Club.

3. The AoC National Sport Championships (formerly known as the British Colleges Sport Championships) is the largest annual student sporting event in the UK, attracting over 2,000 students and staff each year. It has grown from 13 events in seven sports in 1979 to 39 events in 14 sports in 2014.

4. Photographs of the Welsh Colleges Sport trials of 10 November are available on request.

New employability programme for further education college students

Further education colleges across the UK are invited to take part in Prepare for Work, a new programme designed to help 100,000 students maximise their chances of securing and maintaining employment.

The free programme, run by Barclays and the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, offers participating colleges a variety of support to help them deliver employability and financial skills activities to their students during the Spring term of 2015. Prepare for Work is supported by Barclays as part of their commitment to 5 Million Young Futures.

Alongside access to grants and involvement from Barclays volunteers, colleges will receive a free resource pack filled with a range of ready-to-run activities and merchandise to run an interactive and engaging series of employability-focused exercises. The programme also touches on financial aspects of employment and raises awareness of entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Kathleen Britain, Head of UK Community Investment at Barclays said: "In today's competitive job market, it is crucial that young people have the necessary knowledge and confidence needed to secure employment. We're delighted to be working with the National Skills Academy to offer Prepare for Work as part of our larger commitment to 5 Million Young Futures. Together, we can help give young people a platform to achieve their goals, build their own businesses, get jobs and become financially independent."

Students taking part will learn key skills that employers have identified as being crucial in potential job candidates. Prepare for Work will enhance young peoples' chances of securing employment by providing insight on interview techniques and preparation as well as assessing personal strengths and establishing how they can be used to excel during the recruitment process. Prepare for Work also teaches students about entrepreneurship and gives them the opportunity to enter their business ideas into a national Built for Business enterprise competition.

The programme comes as new research published by the Office of National Statistics indicates that 36% of 16-17 year olds and 18% of 18-24 year olds are unemployed compared to 4.7% of 35-49 year olds. A separate report also identifies that one in five of the UK's young people are struggling to find work.

Sylvia Perrins, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Financial Services said: "I'm thrilled to be supporting young people through this programme to boost their chances of not only securing a job but making a success of it. Prepare for Work gives students the opportunity to identify their strengths and how to stand out to potential employers."

Prepare for Work is delivered in partnership with The National Skills Academy for Financial Services, alongside CollegesWales, College Development Network in Scotland, and Now in Northern Ireland.

Prepare for Work's lead contact in Wales, Rachel Dodge from CollegesWales, said: "Having previously supported the successful financial management project by Barclays, Money Skills Weeks in Wales, which has just come to an end, we are very pleased to have the opportunity to support this new initiative, focusing on another crucial skill - employability.

"I am looking forward to seeing this new initiative making a real difference to college students' future, acting as a springboard to employment."

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

Notes to editors:

1. Contact points for Prepare for Work
Visit www.barclaysmoneyskills.com
Contact Prepare for Work's lead contact for Wales, CollegesWales' Rachel Dodge on
T: 029 2052 8386, E: rachel.dodge@collegeswales.ac.uk or
The National Skills Academy for Financial Services on T: 0845 618 2413,
E: prepareforwork@nsafs.co.uk

2. About ColegauCymru / CollegesWales
CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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

3. About Barclays
Barclays is an international financial services provider engaged in personal banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Barclays' purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.
As part of Barclays' Citizenship strategy, it is focused on building the next generation of achievers through its 5 Million Young Futures goal. This is a commitment to invest £250m in programmes focused on supporting five million young people develop the enterprise, employability and financial skills they need to achieve their goals and become financially independent.
For further information about Barclays, visit www.barclays.com.

4. 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 and supporting the community through the delivery of community investment projects. 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.
Through its community investment programme, the Skills Academy has a particular focus on developing the skills of disadvantaged groups. It works with a variety of charity, government and corporate partners to develop and deliver innovative money management, employability and enterprise projects. For more information, please visit www.nsafs.co.uk

Key Contacts
Wales' contact:
Rachel Dodge
T: 029 2052 8386
UK contact:
NSAFS
T: 0845 618 2413
Online: http://www.barclaysmoneyskills.com


A tough budget for adults who want to retrain

Responding to the publication of the draft Assembly budget 2015-16 on 30 September, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Greg Walker, said: "We were expecting a tough budget settlement, and tough it will be".

It is clear that 16-18 year olds will be protected to a greater extent than adults. Having said that, it appears that all age ranges will be affected to some degree, and the Government does expect class sizes for 16-18 year olds to increase.

But it is adult learners aged 19 and over who will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of the cuts. The Government recognises that a "reduction in the provision for adult learners could reduce the ability of those out of work to retrain".

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Greg Walker, continued: "The draft budget sets the general direction but does not give much detail, so it is not yet possible to know what the exact impact on learners will be. What we know at this stage is that the cuts will fall more heavily on adult learners.

"We foresee that colleges will have to consider cutting down on the amount of learning they provide for adults wishing to retrain, and adults who learn for social and leisure purposes.

"Combined with cuts to the careers service, it will be a challenge to maintain a good level of support and opportunities for those adults who wish to improve their skills or retrain.

"Further education colleges have had to manage three years of cuts, including a 4% cut in cash terms this year, and more cuts now are set to follow. Colleges will wish to work closely with the Welsh Government to ensure that the cuts have as small an effect as possible on learners, especially the most vulnerable learners. But we are under no illusion that it will be a tough challenge."

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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 draft budget was published on 30 September 2014. It is available from the Welsh Government website: http://wales.gov.uk/funding/budget/draft-budget-2015-16/?lang=en

3. The Welsh Government's Draft Budget 2015-2016: Strategic Integrated Impact Assessment, from which the quotation is taken (para 9.11), is available at: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/publications/140930-impact-assessment-en.pdf

Money for Life: Legacy Grants for Two Welsh Teams

Congratulations to Cadwyn Moneysmart and V21 Financial Independence Team!

Today, Lloyds Banking Group has awarded a £1000 Legacy Grant to each of six teams who reached the finals of the Money for Life Challenge 2013/14 across the UK. The purpose of the grant is to enable the teams to continue to develop the project they started during the Money for Life Challenge, and to share their money management skills with more people.

Wales has done particularly well, with two of the six UK grants going to two very different but both have great prospects for making a real impact on a big scale.

The Money for Life Challenge is part of Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme. It runs across the whole of the UK, with ColegauCymru / CollegesWales coordinating the Challenge in Wales, in partnership with Youth Cymru.

Cadwyn Moneysmart
Cadwyn Housing Association, Cardiff

They have decided to utilise one of the Money for Life qualifications, Teach Others, course in their project to deliver money management sessions to tenants and young people. Their strong relationship with Cardiff Credit Union sounds like an excellent opportunity to gain new knowledge and increasing the team's skill-set has made their project wider –reaching and very exciting!

V21 Financial Independence Team
Vision 21 Cyfle Cymru, Cardiff

A board game teaching its users about money matters was such a great idea and one that we believe can become a popular product. The judges loved it so much at the final that they invested an extra £300 right then and there! This grant will hopefully see the game developed as the team would like and with an online version in the pipeline who knows how many will be playing it this time next year!

For information on all of the Legacy Grant winners UK-wide see here


Join in the Challenge
The Money for Life Challenge 2014/15 is now open so get involved! Contact Rachel Dodge on T: 029 2052 2500 or find out more about it here.

For inspiration, click here for a video of last year's Wales Final and to learn more on the winners.

Key contact in Wales:
Rachel Dodge
T: 029 2052 2500


Care Sector's Future Workforce to Get Welsh Language Boost

In response to employer demand and users of care services for better service in Welsh, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is embarking on a project to coordinate and improve the educational resources used to train the workforce.

At present, whether or not a service is available through the medium of Welsh in the care sector can be ad hoc. The Welsh Language Commissioner has called on the sector to identify Welsh as a key skill and for purposeful planning to meet users' care service needs in Welsh.

In addressing the issue, the Welsh language will need to be mainstreamed into the planning of the education and training of the future workforce.

To this end, ColegauCymru has embarked on a project to collect training materials already available; to identify gaps; to commission new resources where necessary; and, ultimately, to maintain a national library of all the core resources for training the future workforce.

The project began this week with a seminar under the care of ColegauCymru which included representation from schools, workplace training providers, further education colleges, the Care Council for Wales, the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Mudiad Meithrin and Welsh for Adults centres.

Presenting at the seminar, Sioned Wyn Williams, Senior Manager of Workforce Development at Care Council, said: "High quality training helps prospective employees to develop relevant skills. Understanding the importance of the Welsh language in the sector is part of this, and we look forward to being one of the partners in this important project by ColegauCymru and to seeing the results of work."

Claire Roberts, Director of Bilingualism at ColegauCymru and the project's manager said: "It was very encouraging to see the post-16 education sector come together in the initial seminar to discuss the core resources that are currently exist in two specific areas, Child Care and Primary Care.

"There was a clear enthusiasm as providers shared good practice and worked together across organisations - whether a school, college, university, or work-based training provider - to the benefit of our future workforce.

"With the Welsh Government having just published a 10 year plan for the childcare and early years workforce, the project is timely, and we would like to thank the Welsh Government for funding for the project. There is a lot to achieve, but with the strong support and goodwill of the education sector behind the project, I'm confident that we will soon reach our destination."

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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 of the Welsh Language Commissioner: My Language, My Health: an inquiry into Welsh in primary care was published in June 2014.

3. On 22 September 2014 the Welsh Government published a: Draft 10-year plan for the
early years, childcare and play workforce in Wales
.
http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/consultation/140922-10-year-plan-for-the-early-years-childcare-and-play-workforce-in-wales-plan-en.pdf
4. In the picture, presenters at the ColegauCymru seminar. L-R: Elaine Davies, Cwmni Iaith; Sioned Williams Care Council for Wales; Lisa Haf, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol; Helen Prosser, Welsh for Adults; Claire Roberts, ColegauCymru; Harri Jones, Mudiad Meithrin.

New Chief Executive at CollegesWales

Following the retirement of ColegauCymru's Chief Executive for 13 years, Dr John Graystone, his deputy, Dr Greg Walker, has now stepped into his shoes.

Greg was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of ColegauCymru in 2012. Before then, he was Deputy Director of Higher Education Wales, part of Universities UK. At the turn of the millennium, he helped the Royal College of Nursing establish its successful Political Leadership Programme for nurses in Wales and prior to that he worked within the Welsh Government for a Home Office agency on youth justice matters. He currently serves as a member of the governing Council of the Open University. Raised in South Wales, Greg was educated in Caerphilly and Cardiff.

On stepping into his new role as Chief Executive, Greg Walker said: "ColegauCymru has built on the strength of its member colleges to become a highly esteemed and delivery-focussed organisation. Key recent achievements include the delivery of a national contract for college staff, as well as the further education sector's effective response to the Welsh Government's agenda to transform the post-16 education landscape.

"It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to step up to lead the organisation and I am looking forward in particular to bringing a fresh focus to the vital work colleges do with employers on skills and innovation."

Chair of ColegauCymru, Mark Jones, said: "Greg takes on the high profile role of representing the further education sector in Wales to policy makers at a crucial time. Recent years have seen important new policy initiatives, the further education landscape has been transformed, and colleges have successfully met an onslaught of challenges.

"Colleges have succeeded to ride the wave thanks to the underpinning work of ColegauCymru and the strong desire of its member colleges to collaborate with one another and with key partners to achieve more than would be possible alone.

"Greg has already proved himself to be highly effective in his previous role at ColegauCymru. I am now looking forward to working with him to continue to ensure that the expertise, the passion and the drive for excellence that the college sector is known for is used effectively at a national level for the benefit of Wales' economy and its communities."

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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

Calling Wales' Young People Who Want to Improve Their Community's Money Skills

Young people who want to take on the challenge of helping their communities learn how to manage money better are encouraged to apply for a grant to put their ideas into action as part of a UK-wide competition.

Up to 80 "Money for Life Challenge" grants worth £500 each are up for grabs in Wales for groups of young people between 16 and 24 years old who are in a further education, training or a community organisation.

The grants are to help groups of young people identify a money management issue in their local community and come up with a plan to address it. Along the way, they will improve their own money skills with the help of 'Teach Me', an online course, and then go on to use their skills to help their friends, families and local community.

The Challenge is part of Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme and runs across the whole of the UK, with ColegauCymru / CollegesWales coordinating the programme in Wales.

The Challenge is now in its fourth year and has grown each year, with Wales really getting to grips with the Challenge and attracting proportionately more grants than the other UK nations. From an initial 40 grants that were available in 2011 in Wales, the Challenge is set to double this year, with 80 grants up for grabs.

The Money for Life Challenge is having a big impact on young people and their communities, with legacy grants available to winning teams across the UK to further develop their projects for lasting impact. Key to success in the Challenge will be coming up with new and creative ideas that are based on the experiences of team members, and which address the money management needs of their community.

Helping the Challenge reach new audiences, Youth Cymru will be partnering ColegauCymru this year.

Chief Executive of Youth Cymru, Helen Mary Jones, said: "Given a little helping hand, young people demonstrate to us time and time again that they have the enthusiasm, ideas and capacity to take on community-wide issues and the Challenge is a great opportunity to help them prove their worth.

"Youth Cymru works with youth clubs across the whole of Wales and we are very much looking forward to working with ColegauCymru to open the Money for Life Challenge to new audiences."

Project Manager for Wales, ColegauCymru's Rachel Dodge, said: "Over the last three years, the Money for Life Challenge has seen a great variety of ideas and new approaches to communities' money management needs. This year, with the involvement of Youth Cymru, we are hoping to reach out to new audiences in the youth sector whilst continuing to work with groups from housing associations, Communities First, further education and work-based training settings.

"With a little money and empowerment, young people are showing the way, and I hope that the Challenge will again this year help bring about lasting change in the money management skills of communities around Wales."

All applications for Money for Life Challenge grants must be made by 21 November 2014. The teams who are successful in being awarded a grant will then develop their ideas and put them into practice in their communities by 6 March 2015, with the best projects being selected to attend the Wales Final on 28 April 2015. The winners of the Wales Final will represent Wales at the UK Grand Final on 28 May 2015. More information is available on http://www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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. Youth Cymru is a charity that works with youth groups, youth workers and young people throughout the whole of Wales. It works with youth clubs, service providers, charities, individuals and many companies in the corporate sector to help provide services and amenities for young people in Wales. More information is available at http://youthcymru.org.uk/

3. Money for Life is Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme, targeted at young people and adults in further education, training and community organisations. Lloyds has invested £8 million in the programme from 2010 to 2014.
The Money for Life Qualifications provide accredited, fully-funded training to enable community support workers across the UK to embed personal 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 run a money management in their area.
Money for Life was awarded a Big Tick and was shortlisted in Business in the Community's Building Stronger Communities Award 2014

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 is higher than the Wales average and meets or surpasses the higher UK average. Many students are now bound for Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and other prestigious establishments.

Outperforming the UK average at the more challenging A*-C grades are Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Gower College Swansea and Coleg Gwent Crosskeys Campus, with Pembrokeshire College reporting that 83.3% of results at A*-C, well above the UK average of 76.7% and the Wales average of 75.2%.

A number of further education colleges run special programmes for gifted and talented students, for which outstanding results are achieved. At NPTC Group's Sixth Form Academy for example, 100% of students achieved A*-B, with 98% of the group achieving the top A*-A grades.

Given the lack of interest across Wales in studying modern foreign languages, it's great to note the successes at Cardiff and Vale College, where 100% of entries in French (full time) and Spanish (part time) have achieved A*-C.

With large A level provision at some colleges, these are nationally significant. For example, 1,600 students at Gower College Swansea and 1,260 at Coleg Gwent are receiving their A2 and AS level results today, and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai is collating the results of 107 different A level classes across six campuses.

A level newcomers are also reporting healthy results. The Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone has published its first ever A level results, and they are the best set of results ever for Blaenau Gwent. The College Merthyr Tydfil has its first AS level results today, and has already made a great start on A2 classes, with the A level Psychology course for part-time learners achieving 100% pass rate.

Oxbridge beckons for nine students from Gower College Swansea spanning a wide range of subjects. Joining them at Oxbridge will be three students from Coleg Cambria, including Jessica Flavell who will take her A*A*A to Cambridge to study Psychology – the first in her family to go to any university, let alone Oxbridge! Shannon Britton is going to Oxford University to study English Literature and Language following a fast track A level programme at Coleg y Cymoedd after switching to A2 English, Law and History just last year; and Becky Jones from Coleg Sir Gâr looks set to take up her place at Cambridge University to study Veterinary Science.

Top grades in science and maths have been netted from around Wales' colleges. In the south east for example, Aerospace is the subject Cardiff and Vale College student Seongju Lee is looking at – with an unconditional offer at Bristol University and a conditional offer at Imperial College London, he took his A level in two stages: Maths and Further Maths (A*A*) last year and Physics and Chemistry this year (AA*). A remarkable achievement for the Korean young man who has English as a second language. Whilst in the south west, Liam Green of Coleg Sir Gâr is off to Warwick University to study Mathematics with his A*A*A and Rachel Evans from NPTC Group will her take her remarkable four A* in Chemistry, Maths, Psychology and Biology to York University to study medicine.

There's a strong science cohort of students moving on from Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to top universities, including Dylan Evans from the Rhyl 6th, who's taking his 2A* and 2A to Manchester University to study Theoretical Physics. Dylan is already building a strong reputation for himself, having won Silver at last year's British Physics Olympiad out of 2,000 competitors. Going to study medicine is Eben Rees from Coleg Meirion Dwyfor whilst Elen Wynne Jones takes her 4 A levels from Coleg Menai to study for a Genetics degree at Cardiff University and Jacob Morgan's 3A* take him from Coleg Meirion Dwyfor to study Astrophysics at St Andrew's.

They're bound to find a number of compatriots at their Russell Group institutions – with 150 about to study within the prestigious group of universities from Gower College Swansea alone.

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 vocational students who are all today reaping the success of their hard work. For example, Craig Hodges from Coleg Llandrillo has been holding down a full time job as a paramedic whilst studying his A levels with a view to becoming a doctor. Today's the day he heard that he is now on his way to Bangor University and a new career.

Vocational learners studying extended diplomas – which carry the same UCAS points as A levels – are also confirming their university places today. At Coleg Cambria, of the 650 students who have been offered places at university, 220 of them will be getting there thanks to their vocational qualifications. At Bridgend College, 118 students have achieved at least 360 UCAS points – equivalent to 3 A grades at A level – in their extended diploma studies. The best performing course at Coleg Sir Gâr this year is the Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, with 48% of the students gaining triple starred distinction – the top grade possible, attracting 420 UCAS points, whilst the best performing department at Bridgend College is Landbased and Sports, with 62% of the vocational students gaining 420 UCAS points.

Vocational students are confirming their places at university today to study a range of degrees including IT, Sport Science, Osteopathy, Photography and Education.

Not everyone's heading for a three year full time degree, though.

Heather Morgan from NPTC Group, for example, passed her A levels in Maths, French and Spanish and has secured an apprenticeship with the BBC studying Accountancy and Maths. She'll get the best of both worlds with two days a week at university and three days' work at the BBC.

ColegauCymru's Head of Public Affairs, Sylvia Davies, said: "Colleges across Wales are rightly proud of their results. That a number of Wales' colleges are comparable to the higher performing schools and colleges in UK terms has been demonstrated today, with a number of colleges reporting a pass rate at A*-C grades above the UK average.

"Tertiary colleges and campuses in particular have the critical mass to push their most able and talented students the extra mile and achieve strings of As and A*. But general further education colleges are also demonstrating a strong track record at AS and A2 levels as well as in vocational extended diplomas which carry the same UCAS points as A levels.

"Congratulations to the students, as well as to their teachers and the staff at colleges across Wales who have supported them on their way to success."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 2500 or 07968 771913.

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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
  • NPTC Group: Fay Harris T: 01639 648006
  • Coleg Sir Gâr: Amanda Rees T: 01554 748533
  • Gower College Swansea: Eleanor Lewis T: 01792 890744
  • Cardiff and Vale College: Christopher Baker T: 01446 725015
  • Coleg Cambria: marketing department T: 01244 834531
  • Pembrokeshire College: Charlie Royal T: 01437 753100
  • Coleg y Cymoedd: Matthew Parr T: 07506 125 016
  • The College Merthyr Tydfil: Leanne Jones E: L.Jones3@MERTHYR.AC.UK
  • Grŵp Llandrillo Menai: Jane Cater T: 01492 542 305

Wales-China Education Partnership Enters New Phase

A partnership to develop educational and business links between further education colleges in Wales and their counterparts in Chongqing, China is entering a new phase.

The Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium was established in 2011, with ColegauCymru / CollegesWales investing in a Mandarin speaking Consortium Officer based in the Welsh Government's offices in Chongqing. Managed through ColegauCymru's international arm, CollegesWales (UK) International, the Consortium has raised the profile of Wales' colleges in Chongqing and provided a number of opportunities to widen the horizons of learners and staff in both countries.

Helped by the senior level relationship building facilitated by the Consortium, Wales' colleges have collectively made 20 visits to China. Summer schools, A level partnerships, staff training, student learning and cultural exchanges have all been in the mix.

The three years of investment, management and coordination undertaken by CollegesWales (UK) International have helped build a strong platform for Wales' colleges, and from 1 August 2014, six colleges will take on the responsibility of working to develop the Consortium.

Deputy Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, one of the six colleges that will be managing the Consortium from 1st August, Judith Evans, said:

"The Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium has given college students from Wales as well as China life-changing experiences thanks in the main to the relationship building and educational and cultural exchanges it has developed and organised. I have seen many individuals transform in front of my eyes thanks to the experiences they have had in China. Their world is now so much bigger, their aspirations raised, their view of the world so much wider.

"Colleges are also keen to explore and build further the staff development and business opportunities that the Consortium can facilitate.

"Developing and maintaining senior level relationships with government and its agencies overseas and a host of vocational college partners does, of course, require significant commitment and investment. But the rewards to our students and staff and the college body as a whole are big.

"It is a sign of maturity that six of Wales' colleges have decided to continue to invest in the Consortium and to take responsibility for its future development.

"As Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, I am very much looking forward, along with the other five colleges in the newly constituted Consortium, to work to bring even more benefits from China to Wales over the next few years."

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 15 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 CollegesWales (UK) International is the international arm of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales. More information on its work can be found here: International


3. The Wales-Chongqing Further Education Consortium have been granted permission by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales to continue to use the CollegesWales (UK) International brand for a defined period.

4. The six colleges who will manage the Consortium from 1 August 2014 are: Bridgend College, Coleg Cambria, Coleg y Cymoedd, Gower College Swansea, NPTC Group, St David's Catholic College. The Consortium Officer will continue to be based at the Welsh Government offices in Chongqing, China.

Key Benefits of Wales' Education Sector Working Together in Europe

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has welcomed the publication of an Assembly Committee report on EU funding opportunities that notes the good practice in the further education sector in providing learning opportunities abroad to Wales' students, and agrees with the report's recommendations on the need to improve strategic level working across the wider education sector.

The report notes the "hub of expertise" in the further education sector, under the leadership of ColegauCymru, which has helped the sector to win a number of successful bids for European funding in order to work with European partners to provide work experience and learning opportunities for college learners from Wales.

Sian Holleran, who leads ColegauCymru's international activities under the brand name CollegesWales (UK) International, said: "It is pleasing that the Assembly Committee has noted the significant level of cooperation and impact that the further education sector has achieved in securing funding for learning opportunities and work experience periods abroad for their learners".

ColegauCymru has secured €450,000 in European funding to the further education sector in Wales since 2011, which it has used to build partnerships with vocational schools, intermediary organisations and businesses in nine European countries, and enabled 140 vocational learners and apprentices to undertake work placements abroad.

Sian Holleran continued: "We agree with the Committee that, in order to make the best use possible of all the separate strands of European funding available to Wales, more strategic level working across the education sector would be helpful. The pockets of expertise being built up in the further and higher education sectors and national agencies could then be shared and future work planned more strategically for the benefit of Wales' education sector as a whole.

"We shall look forward to hearing from the Welsh Government at the Assembly debate on the report later in the year on how it wishes to take forward the Committee's recommendation on bringing together all the key partners. ColegauCymru suggests that The Welsh Advisory Group of which ColegauCymru is a member, under the leadership of the British Council and Ecorys for Erasmus+, provides a good starting point that the Welsh Government could build on."

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 15 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 on EU Funding Opportunities 2014-2020, written by the National Assembly for Wales' Enterprise and Business Committee, was launched on 16 July at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

3. ColegauCymru submitted evidence to the Committee as part of its inquiry and gave oral evidence on 12 March 2014.

Welsh youngsters 'punching above their weight' for WorldSkills São Paulo 2015

Ten of Wales' most talented apprentices and learners have been selected to join WorldSkills Squad UK and compete for a place in the team which will be representing the UK at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

WorldSkills is the largest international skills competition in the world. Held every two years, the competition sees around 1000 young people, aged 18-25, from all over the world come together to compete for medals in more than 40 different skills including Electrical Installation, Welding, Web Design, Cooking and Bricklaying.

The 10 Welsh youngsters, all aged between 19 and 21 - from Abertridwr, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Newport and Pembrokeshire - have been named among 98 members of Squad UK, who were selected following three days of intense competition held at four venues throughout the UK.

They were all invited to compete in the selection competitions after excelling at the WorldSkills UK National Competitions, the finals of which take place at The Skills Show.



Photo: Owain Jones, Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, in action © WorldSkills UK

The members of Squad UK will now spend the next 11 months training in their skill supported by their training provider, college, employer and a dedicated training manager. In May next year they will compete for a coveted placed in the team that will represent the UK at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 which takes place from 11-16 August.

One of the successful competitors, Eleni Constantinou, 21 - a hairdresser from Abertridwr who came first in all six competitions she took part in - said she was thrilled to have been selected:

"I've loved taking part in these competitions. I'm really competitive and they push me to do my very best as I'm up against other hairdressers who all excel in their field and give you a really high standard of work to compete against. The competitions have been a real rollercoaster ride for me and I'm expecting the journey to have more ups and downs in the future, which will hopefully end in a trip to Brazil next year."

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates said:

"I'm really pleased to see so many high quality Welsh apprentices represented at the WorldSkills competition. Wales can boast a wealth of exceptionally talented apprentices who have highly developed skills in a wide range of vocational areas.

"The ten Welsh competitors in Squad UK are all great ambassadors for Wales and I wish them and Squad UK all the very best for the competition. I hope this recognition inspires many more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a path to a successful career."

Ross Maloney, Chief Executive, Find a Future, which manages the WorldSkills UK Skills Competitions and the UK's entry into the WorldSkills Competition said:

"Skills competitions showcase the high levels of performance that can be achieved by individuals and organisations through high quality further education, skills training and Apprenticeships. Through skills competitions and the wider work of Find a Future we want to provide every young person with the chance to unlock their potential and get excited about the world of work."

By participating in the WorldSkills Competition, the UK is able to share best practise in Apprenticeships and vocational teaching, raising standards on a global scale.

The training programme for Squad UK includes EuroSkills Lille 2014, Europe's largest skills competition which takes place from 1 – 5 October, 2014 and The Skills Show which takes place from 13-15 November, 2014. Three Welsh competitors have been selected to represent the UK at EuroSkills 2014.

The 10 Welsh competitors selected to join Squad UK for WorldSkills São Paolo 2015 are:

  • Car Painting - Leon Ivin, 20, from Chepstow who works at Magor Motors and studies at Coleg Gwent
  • Industrial Control - Alex Scott, 21, from Newport and Luke Elsmore, 19, from Blackwood, who work at IAC Newport and are supported by University of South Wales
  • Carpentry - Owain Jones, 20, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, who works at HB Daverport and studies at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor
  • Carpentry - Simon McCall, 20, from Capel Dewi, who works at Jones and Johnson and studies at Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Construction Metal Work - Gethin Johnson, 19, from Llandysul, who works at Morris Fabrication and welding and studies at Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Plastering and Dry Wall Systems - Nathan Roblin, 20, from Ammanford, who works at DJ Plastering and studies at Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Joinery - Dominic Hicks, 19, from Tenby, who works at Keating Joinery and studies at Pembrokeshire College
  • Hairdressing - Eleni Constantinou, 21, from Abertridwr, who works at Tino Hair Salon
  • Auto Tech - Elijah Sumner, 19, from Cardiff Bay, who works at Halfords Pontypridd and is supported by Provq

© WorldSkills UK

Nathan Roblin
Coleg Sir Gâr

Dominic Hicks
Coleg Sir Benfro

Leon Irvin
Coleg Gwent

Gethin Johnson
Coleg Sir Gâr

Simon McCall
Coleg Sir Gâr

Owain Jones
Coleg Meirion Dwyfor

Fresh ideas: turning young people onto sport

Further education colleges across Wales are joining forces to turn more young people onto sport with a host of fresh ideas.

With 45,000 learners aged 16-19, further education colleges in Wales could make a real difference to the health of the nation's young people, especially young women who become distinctly less active in their late teens.

At the first ever Welsh Colleges Sport Conference held last week, over 130 college students and staff came together to try out new sporting opportunities, to get inspiration from young volunteers and to share good practice from around the country.

Organised by ColegauCymru with the support of a number of sports governing bodies, Young Ambassadors Cymru, Sport Wales and the University of South Wales - which hosted the conference at its Sports Park in Treforest - participants tried out a range of sporting and fitness activities including Rush Hockey, Atomic Touch rugby, Powerhooping and Dodgeball.

Taking a lead from Sport Wales, the conference looked at developing the benefits of sport in the widest sense, not solely impacting on improving the physical health of students, but also in bringing communities together, building confidence and providing new skills and training.

With this in mind, participants also benefited from the leadership skills of two Young Ambassadors, Molly Briskham Davies and Yasmin Davies, who led sessions on developing volunteering roles within colleges.

Among the participants in the Young Ambassadors-led session was Rebecca Baker, a student at Coleg Gwent's Crosskeys Campus, who said:

"The Young Ambassadors' session inspired my peers and me to encourage every single student in the college to try physical activity. It gave me ideas on how to adapt sessions to encourage students to come along and gave me an understanding of what is needed in terms of planning and scheduling events. I think that having Youth Ambassadors would be a great plus."

ColegauCymru's Sports Coordinator Rob Baynham said: "A strong team, we all know, is greater than the sum of its parts. And that was, really, the point of the conference – to bring all the colleges together as a team to identify and build on the good practice that already exists and to motivate each other to achieve our goals.

"The enthusiasm of college students, staff and national governing bodies from a range of sports at the conference shows that they are all keen to make a real difference. Through participation, discussion and debate, we are working together to ensure that each and every student has an opportunity to achieve their potential through sports.

"I am looking forward to seeing a number of fresh ideas put into practice over the coming year, and to deliver the key aims of the conference – more active young women, more sporting opportunities, and more volunteering."

Diwedd

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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 event, which took place on Friday 20 June 2014, was organised by ColegauCymru and supported by the University of South Wales with activities and workshops delivered by the Welsh Rugby Union, Hockey Wales, Powerhoop UK, Young Ambassadors Cymru, UK Dodgeball Association, and Scott Wilson Fitness. The conference was opened by Sport Wales board member Simon Pirotte and was closed by Sport Wales Corporate Director Mark Frost. Photos from the event are available on www.facebook.com/CollegesWales

3. The post of Sports Coordinator for further education colleges in Wales was created in February 2014 with the support of Sport Wales. The key aims of post are to further develop sporting opportunities and increase participation in sports and active lifestyles, particularly among 16-24 year olds, and with a special focus on young women.

4. Sport Wales' vision is available in full from here: http://www.sportwales.org.uk/about-us/about-sport-wales/our-vision.aspx

Historic Step for Further Education sector

A historic agreement has been reached between employers and trade unions in Further Education colleges in Wales which will see the introduction of a National Contract for staff across the sector. This is a first for Wales, and has no equivalent in England.

Until now, every Further Education college has drawn up and implemented its own contracts of employment, leading to significant variation in terms and conditions across the country.
Following lengthy negotiations, the employers and unions have agreed on the wording of a suite of National Contracts for support staff, lecturers and managers.

The governing bodies of all general Further Education Colleges in Wales have accepted the National Contract for their staff. Implementation will now take place over a 32-month period ending on 1 September 2016 when all employees will be on the new contract.

Huw Lewis, the Welsh Government's Minister for Education and Skills said: "I'm delighted that negotiations between the further education institutions' governing bodies and trade unions have reached a successful and satisfactory conclusion and we can now look forward to the implementation of a National Contract.

"This pledge was a key commitment in Welsh Labour's 2011 Assembly election manifesto and it's one I'm proud to see delivered with the signing of this agreement.

"We believe that college staff who do such a great job supporting our learners should be rewarded fairly and equally with their counterparts across the Further Education sector in Wales. The National Contract will help ensure that this becomes a reality".

Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, said: "After almost four years of tough but fair negotiations, I am delighted that we have achieved this landmark agreement. The agreement is noteworthy not only in demonstrating that negotiations between employers and unions can come to a successful conclusion, but also in that, even with new the freedoms granted to colleges through recent legislation, Wales' further education colleges can and do work together to achieve Wales-wide goals."

Rebecca Williams, on behalf of the Further Education Joint Trade Unions said "This is a major step forward for employees in the sector. We're confident that the harmonisation of terms and conditions that the Contract brings to each staff group will mean a more equitable and transparent settlement for all.

"We look forward to continued co-operation with ColegauCymru at an all-Wales level so that we can make further progress and bring increasing consistency to the sector."

Ends

Notes to editors
The Further Education Joint Trade Unions comprise: AMiE, ATL, GMB, NASUWT, UCAC, UCU, Unison and Unite

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales.

The National Contract pertains to further education colleges in Wales. The two further education institutions that operate as third sector organisations – WEA Cymru and YMCA Community College – are outwith the agreement.

For further information:
Sylvia Davies, 029 2052 8384 / 07968 771913 (ColegauCymru)
Rebecca Williams, 01970 639950 / 07787 572180 (Joint Trade Unions)

Inspirational nursery owner and Swansea care home win Wales' VQ Awards

An inspirational learner who runs her own bilingual nursery in Carmarthenshire and a Swansea care home claimed the main Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards in Wales today (June 4).

Emma Thomas, 28, who set up 'Dechrau Disglair' (Bright Start) in St Clears in 2011 and now employs 24 staff caring for 35 children a day under the age of seven, won the VQ Learner of the Year Award while Hengoed Court care home, owned by Nicola and Tim Williams, was judged VQ Employer of the Year.

They were two of the nine finalists who attended the showpiece awards ceremony at Coleg y Cymoedd's Nantgarw Campus on VQ Day, a celebration of people who have achieved success through vocational education in Wales.

The awards coincided with the publication of two new skills reports. The Institute of Public Policy Research revealed that, with 3.6 million skilled vacancies opening up across the UK over the next 10 years, vocational qualifications have never been in such demand.

In addition the Employer Skills Survey 2013 Wales report provides evidence that the Welsh economy is moving towards recovery and highlights the skills needed by employers across Wales and within sectors and occupations.

Wales' Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, presented the VQ awards and congratulated all the finalists for excelling in their vocational learning journey. He also called on employers and individuals to take responsible action on skills following the findings of both reports.

"Next month, we will be launching our Skills Implementation Plan, which sets out the actions we intend to take in developing the skills of the Welsh workforce and increasing levels of skills investment," he said.

"VQ Day reminds us just how many Welsh employers and learners are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing skills. A VQ award is more than just an award; it's a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession.

"We have no intention of preaching to the converted, but if the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together and invest in the right skills for success."

Emma's story is one of vocational achievement and progression. She left school at the age of 16 to realise her dream of running her own childcare business.

She had begun working with children with special needs in a holiday club at the age of 15, followed by a classroom assistant's post in a primary school, where she achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship in Childcare within a year.


She then became after school club leader and progressed to an Apprenticeship in Childcare, which she completed in 2006 whilst working as deputy manager of a nursery.

Determined to set up her own nursery, she purchased and renovated an old school building in St Clears, working to a tight schedule. Leading her team by example, she has recently completed a Higher Apprenticeship in Childcare Leadership and Development Management and encourages all her staff to develop their skills and achieve vocational qualifications.

Emma, who was nominated by Maria Bradbourn, training mentor and Welsh champion at City and County of Swansea Lifelong Learning and Employment Training Service, described the award as "a great personal achievement" and she pledged to continue her learning journey.

"I have always had passion to work with children and want to be a role model for my team," she said. "To ensure that I provide a very high standard child care environment for families, I need to have high quality staff who constantly improve their skills to fulfil their potential."

VQ Employer of the Year award winner, Hengoed Court, which has workforce of 220, has built its reputation on an ethos of promoting dignity, privacy, independence and respect, backed by a comprehensive staff training and development programme.


Opened in 1987, the care home has retained many of its original staff, demonstrating the support and opportunities provided by the owners. Nicola and Tim Williams have worked with Gower College Swansea for the past seven years to provide and deliver a range of accredited qualifications to upskill, motivate, empower and stimulate staff.

The home's approach to care and training has been recognised by other care providers and the local authority in Swansea, with visits to the business undertaken to share best practice.

By the end of this year, all catering staff will be trained to a Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level. All senior staff are developed to a QCF level 3 and the care staff workforce is well on its way to becoming 100 per cent QCF qualified.

"This award is recognition for all the hard work and effort that nobody ever sees," said Tim, who praised the relationship the business had developed with Gower College Swansea.

"We work with and care for a lot of wonderful people and training is the foundation of our business. Our experience is that learning is a catalyst for many things and when people achieve it inspires them to continue achieving.

"Professional and personal development programmes are utilised for staff to enable them to follow a pathway of learning to meet company, customer and individual needs.

"We proactively seek out innovative training, such as integrating customer service and dementia care into mainstream social care qualifications – effectively combining statutory requirements with best practice."

The other VQ Learner of the Year finalists were Matthew Edwards, an apprentice butcher with S. A. Vaughan Family Butchers, Penyfford, near Chester who was nominated by Cambrian Training Company, Ashleigh Zeta Jones and chef Rhys Sinfield who were both nominated by Bridgend College, Corey Nixon nominated by Gower College Swansea and Ebbi Ferguson who was nominated by Coleg Sir Gâr, Llanelli.

The VQ Employer of the Year finalists were domiciliary care provider Trusting Hands from Ebbw Vale and the multi-award winning Village Bakery, Wrexham.

VQ Day supports the aspiration that vocational qualifications should achieve parity of esteem alongside other educational routes.
Learning providers across Wales came together to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages through providing interactive taster sessions in a range of skills at Coleg y Cymoedd's Nantgarw Campus and Coleg Cambria's Deeside Campus.

VQ Day and the VQ Awards are co-ordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) with the support of the Welsh Government and part funded by the European Social Fund.

Ends

Picture captions:
VQ Learner of the Year Emma Thomas (right) and VQ Employer of the Year Nicola and Tim Williams, owners of Hengoed Court, Swansea, with Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates (second from right).

About VQ Day

VQ Day recognises the value of vocational qualifications and celebrates high quality vocational achievement. High quality VQs play a vital role in society; they provide young people with the skills, experience and clear progression routes they need to get ahead.
By celebrating this achievement and presenting high quality practical and vocational learning equally alongside academic study we will ensure that young people are offered the many paths to success leading to:
Further study, e.g. university or further VQs
Greater job prospects and relevant career options
Enhanced skills/knowledge
Higher pay
The motivation and inspiration to help drive forward the UK economy.
For more information please contact Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818.

Brand new vocational and journalism competitions for the Eisteddfod

Brand new vocational and journalism competitions were launched on 30 May designed to broaden the competitive options for older members of the Urdd. Thanks to a partnership with CollegesWales, these new competitions, in areas such as hairdressing and construction will be open to competitors in the Caerffili a'r Cylch Urdd Eisteddfod in 2015.

The Eisteddfod will partner with Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and Cardiff University to offer a new journalism competition. As part of the prize for presenting original content in any story concerning their local area worthy of press attention, the winner will spend time as a researcher and journalist with the Hacio team and the journalists of ITV Wales' Y Byd ar Bedwar' programme made for S4C.

The announcements are part of a wider strategy by Urdd Gobaith Cymru of working together with new agencies in order to broaden the range of Welsh medium experiences and benefits available to its members.

The partnerships within further education between the Urdd and CollegesWales was made official when the leaders of both organisations signed a "memorandum of understanding" at the Urdd Eisteddfod on 30 May 2014. By working together both organisations are reaffirming their commitment to supporting Welsh as a contemporary language which is relevant to the lives of children and young people under 25 years old, as they continue with their further education and prepare for the workplace.

These announcements resulted from the research and recommendations made by the Eisteddfod yr Urdd working group published in December 2013. The group was established to develop ideas for the festival in the future, as the Urdd Eisteddfod approaches its centenary.

One of these recommendations was the need to develop ideas and competitions in new areas including vocational competitions, the use of social media, and the need to connect with further education colleagues in order to discuss the possibilities of cooperating to create relevant competitions for this sector.

Urdd Gobaith Cymru Chief Executive, Efa Gruffudd Jones said on the day of the launch: "Today is a very important milestone for the Eisteddfod, and the Urdd, with the announcement of these exciting plans to implement the recommendations of the Eisteddfod working group. It's important that we ensure that we continue to be a cutting edge organisation that offers a range of advantages and opportunities to our members, through the medium of Welsh."

"Introducing new competitions to the Eisteddfod and co-operating further with CollegesWales on other schemes is key in within further education. It strengthens our connection with young people from different backgrounds and opens the door to expertise within 15 colleges and further educational institutions. With some colleges developing specialities in fields like oceanography, land and food technology, it opens the door to all sorts of benefits for Urdd members. We look forward to seeing these partnerships develop in the coming months."

Aled Siôn, Urdd National Eisteddfod Director said: "We are delighted to broaden the appeal of the Eisteddfod to young people under 25. Working in partnership with Cardiff University and Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol means that we can raise awareness of the demand for journalists working through the medium of Welsh. The hope is that the competition and prize will provide an unforgettable experience for the winner and a chance for them to develop their journalistic, linguistic and digital skills".

"We are grateful to Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Cardiff University and Colegau Cymru for their support to Urdd members," said Aled Siôn.

Glyn Jones, CollegesWales board member and Chief Executive of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai said: "Through this new partnership we look forward to introduce competitions with the Urdd's Welsh flavour and flair to college students, giving them the opportunity to live more of their lives through the medium of Welsh. With two thirds of all young people over 16 who are in education and training in Wales attending a college, the door has been opened today to even more opportunities."

Details of the competitions have been announced in the 2015 Caerffili a'r Cylch syllabus and applications will need to be received by 1 March 2015.

Ends

For further information contact:
Sylvia Davies, ColegauCymru T: 029 2052 2500 M: 07968771913
Ffion Clwyd Edwards, pi-ar, 01745 550123 / ffion@pi-ar.co.uk / 07702 048184
Mali Thomas, yr Urdd M: 07976 330360 / mali@urdd.org

Notes to editors:

1. Briefing paper on the Mou: MoU with Urdd

2. In the photograph: Signing the MoU are Glyn Jones, member of the ColegauCymru Board and CEO of Grwp Llandrillo Menai, with Efa Gruffudd, CEO yr Urdd; back row: CEO ColegauCymru Dr John Graystone and ColegauCymru Director of Bilingualism Claire Roberts.

Nine finalists in running for VQ Awards in Wales

Nine finalists have been selected from high quality entries for this year's prestigious Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards in Wales.

Three companies will contest the VQ Employer of the Year Award while six finalists are in the running to become VQ Learner of the Year in the showpiece awards ceremony on June 4, VQ Day, at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw. VQ Day is a national celebration of people who have achieved success in vocational education in Wales.

Following the success of last year's VQ Learner of the Year, Tomi Jones, owner of Jones's Butchers, Llangollen, another young North Wales butcher is hoping to prove he's a cut above the rest.

Matthew Edwards, 22, an apprentice butcher with S. A. Vaughan Family Butchers, Penyfford, near Chester, who was nominated by Welshpool-based Cambrian Training Company, is one of the six finalists.

He will be up against Ashleigh Zeta Jones, 22, and Rhys Sinfield who were both nominated by Bridgend College, Corey Nixon who was nominated by Gower College Swansea, Ebbi Ferguson who was nominated by Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli and St Clears nursery owner Emma Thomas who was nominated by City and County of Swansea Lifelong Learning and Employment Training Service.

The VQ Learner the Year Award recognises learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.

Competing for the VQ Employer of the Year Award are Hengoed Court care home, Swansea, domiciliary care provider Trusting Hands, Ebbw Vale and Village Bakery, Wrexham.

The VQ Employer of the Year Award recognises employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.

An initiative established by independent education charity Edge Foundation, VQ Day aims to raise awareness about the role that technical, practical and vocational learning plays in society and in the UK economy.

VQ Day supports the aspiration that vocational qualifications, which are not just for young people, should achieve parity of esteem alongside other educational routes.

Wales' Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, wished the nine finalists success on June 4: "Vocational Qualifications are the gold standard in professional excellence and we must ensure they are recognised alongside academic qualifications for their value to learners and the Welsh economy.

"Wales has a real wealth of talented and committed people who have excelled in their vocational studies and VQ Day is a chance for us to celebrate their achievements. A VQ award is more than just an award; it's a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession.

"It's also equally important that we recognise the role of employers in promoting vocational qualifications in the workplace. Their support and commitment will be vital if we are to achieve our ambition of creating a more highly-skilled Wales."

Learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. VQ Day and the VQ Awards are co-ordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) with the support of the Welsh Government and part funded by the European Social Fund.

Ends

Notes to editors:
About VQ Day
VQ Day recognises the value of vocational qualifications and celebrates high quality vocational achievement. High quality VQs play a vital role in society; they provide young people with the skills, experience and clear progression routes they need to get ahead.

By celebrating this achievement and presenting high quality practical and vocational learning equally alongside academic study we will ensure that young people are offered the many paths to success leading to:

Further study, e.g. University or further VQs
Greater job prospects and relevant career options
Enhanced skills/knowledge
Higher pay
The motivation and inspiration to help drive forward the UK economy.

The seventh annual VQ Day on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 will recognise the value of vocational qualifications and celebrate vocational achievement.

For more information please contact Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818.

Top performing colleges and learners awarded

At a glittering ceremony at City Hall Cardiff on 13 May, outstanding college learners and teachers were recognised, and five 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 2014 was again notably high.

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "With the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates AM delivering a highly positive speech to the ColegauCymru annual conference earlier the same day, praising colleges' commitment to making a positive difference in their communities, 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:

  • Teaching and Learning: Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Technology Aiding Learning: Coleg Cambria
  • Welsh and Bilingualism: Coleg Ceredigion
  • Learner Voice: Coleg Gwent
  • Entrepreneurship and Employability: Grŵp Llandrillo Menai

In addition to the five categories of awards open to colleges, the Awards 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 Dr Graham Hall of Coleg Meirion Dwyfor who was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award.

"Outstanding learners are of course the success story of colleges. Congratulations particularly to Victoria Brand of Bridgend College in winning the Learner of the Year Award against a very strong shortlist alongside Alexandra Atkins of Gower College Swansea and Dylan Evans of Coleg Llandrillo's Rhyl Sixth.

Dr Graystone continued: "The ColegauCymru Awards 2014 not only recognise the benefit to learners but also are recognised by a wide range of highly-respected national organisations. We are delighted to have received sponsorship and strong support from City & Guilds/ILM, JISC, Learndirect, NatWest Cymru, Pearson and the Welsh Government."

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 15 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. Photographs of the award winners are found on www.facebook.com/CollegesWales

3. Videos of the 3 shortlisted for Learner of the Year and the 3 shortlisted for Teacher of the Year are available from www.youtube.com/ColegauCymru

British Medals for Welsh Sporting Champs

Wales put on a top show at the British Colleges Sport National Championships at Bath University last weekend, with 200 competitors from ten of Wales' colleges giving it their all, and fourteen medals coming home.

The 200 students who made up the Welsh Colleges Sport team were among the 3,000 college students from across Britain who competed across 20 different sports at the outstanding sports facilities at the University of Bath sports village from 4 – 6 April. They brought back to Wales three gold, three silver and eight bronze medals, won across nine sporting disciplines.

Key highlight were the ladies rugby team retaining their 7s title for the 6th year in a row, Luke Simeone winning the highly competitive men's tennis and Danial Wood winning the Gold medal in trampolining.

ColegauCymru's Sports Coordinator, Rob Baynham, said: "This was one of the best performances by the Welsh Colleges team at the BCS National Championships in many years. Everyone gave 100%, and the support from staff and students for the whole team was outstanding, singing and cheering on their team mates throughout the championships.

"It was particularly pleasing to see that the Welsh side was a truly national side, with ten colleges represented in the Welsh team. It's also a testament to the dedication of our colleges in providing opportunities for a wide range of tastes and talents in that the Welsh team's medal haul spanned nine different sporting disciplines.

"Everyone involved should be proud of their efforts and I look forward to continued success at future championships."

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 15 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 annual British Colleges Sport National Championships brings together the winners of national events in Wales and Scotland and regional events in England.

3. The Welsh Colleges Sport team won the following at the event:

Gold Medals
Ladies Rugby 7s – regional team, comprising students from Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Coleg Gwent, Coleg Sir Gâr, NPTC Group, Pembrokeshire College and Bridgend College
Men's tennis – Luke Simeone, Gower College Swansea
Men's Trampolining – Danial Wood, Coleg y Cymoedd

Silver Medals
Ladies Golf – Fauvre Birch, NPTC Group
Ladies Badminton – Aimee Moran, NPTC Group
Ladies Squash – Nia Kenward, Coleg Gwent

Bronze Medals
Ladies Table Tennis – Alexandra Evans, Coleg y Cymoedd
Ladies Tennis – Alice Scott, Coleg Cambria
Ladies Football - Cardiff and Vale College
Men's Trampolining – Conor Lees, Coleg Gwent
Men's Badminton – Adam Stewart, Coleg Cambria
Ladies Volleyball – Coleg y Cymoedd
Men's Volleyball – Coleg y Cymoedd
Men's Trampolining Team - Coleg y Cymoedd and Coleg Gwent, Crosskeys

4. In the photographs: top picture: Women's Rugby 7s; left picture: Danial Wood, right: Luke Simeone. More photographs are available from www.facebook.com/collegeswales

The Photos
Click here for the photographs of the medallists and competitors who made up the Welsh Colleges Sport team at the British Colleges Sport National Championships.

Young mums are the Lloyds Bank's Money for Life Challenge Welsh champions

A team of young mothers from Cardiff has been crowned champions of Wales in the Lloyds Banking Group's Money for Life Challenge, which aims to inspire better money management skills in local communities across the UK.

The Fashion on a Budget team held off a strong challenge from four other teams to win the Wales final held at The Royal College of Music and Drama yesterday (Tuesday), where they presented their money management project to a panel of high-profile judges.

Fashion on a Budget, a team of 17 to 19 year olds from East Cardiff, Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn Communities 1st (ECLP), an anti-Poverty Programme, created a fashion show called 'Style yourself on a budget', which featured clothes purchased only from charity shops. The show tackled the stigma often attached to buying second-hand clothes by the highlighting the quality of charity shop goods at affordable prices.

They collected £1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice and each team member received £50 shopping vouchers. They will now represent Wales at the Money for Life Challenge Grand Final at the 02 Venue in London on May 15, where they'll compete against champions from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland to claim the title of overall winners this year.

"We have gone through so much with this project and we are so chuffed to win and represent Wales in the UK final," said team member Bethan Johnson, 19, of Llanedeyrn. "It's a massive boost to our confidence and we had no idea how big this competition is."

Bethan was joined by Amber Poole, 18, from Ebbw Vale, in making a presentation to the judging panel. Teammates Louisha Ware, 17, and Katie Renshaw, 19, were unable to be there due to illness and a family emergency.

Also representing Wales at the UK Grand Final will be Broke but Beautiful from Bridgend College who won the People's Prize, which was voted for by those attending Cardiff final. The group of students formed a project to teach people receiving benefits how to save money on fashion and beauty.

Evidence-based Teaching Leads the Way in Wales

Having adopted an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning, all of Wales' further education colleges shared the results of their research at a national conference last week.

At the conference held at Theatr Hafren, Newtown on 27 March 2014, which was organised by ColegauCymru with the financial support of the Welsh Government, college managers, mentors and lecturers took to the stage to present the findings of their research.

The research, undertaken as supported experiments in the classroom, focused on challenges that face the whole of the education sector. The bank of experiments undertaken included:

  • Peer assessment, self assessment and different methods of feedback
  • Active learning approaches and ensuring that each learner is stretched and challenged to reach their potential
  • Developing literacy, numeracy and higher order thinking skills
  • Mobile technologies and learning in a 'flipped classroom'.

Colleges are now sharing the lessons they have learned through new sets of resources that include:

  • Toolkits for numeracy and assessment and a literacy marking scheme
  • Case study booklets, videos of classroom practice and an online platform for resources
  • Conference and workshops to disseminate practice

Coordinator of the ColegauCymru Teaching and Learning Network and organiser of the conference, Julie Lewis, said: "There's a new rigour to teaching and learning in Wales' colleges now. Since the first ColegauCymru-organised national conference on teaching and learning two years ago, colleges have been working more cohesively together, sharing their findings and identifying good practice. In addition, we've introduced to Wales colleges from England who have achieved excellence in teaching and learning as well as big name authors, thinkers and doers.

"A key strength of these initiatives is that systems and practices are improving across colleges as a whole, with senior managers, heads of departments, mentors and tutors all working to the same aims.

"In addition, we're delighted to see the wider further education sector - including work-based learning providers, Welsh for Adult centres, schools and work-based learning providers in both England and Wales – are also using these opportunities to improve their own practices."

The sector has received strong support from the Welsh Government's Quality and Effectiveness Policy Branch. It was Welsh Government's Quality Improvement Fund (QIF) that enabled colleges to undertake supported experiments, and which also funded last week's dissemination conference.

Speaking at the conference, educational consultant Joanne Miles, who has worked with all of Wales' colleges to plan their supported experiments as well as with a number of colleges in England, said: "I am so impressed with the exploration of evidence based methods and the professional dialogues in Wales' further education colleges on teaching in learning. In particular, the strong ethos of openness in sharing resources demonstrates a maturity and big picture vision that I haven't seen elsewhere.

"Partnership projects, action research, professional learning communities, the development of coaching expertise and a bank of practitioner resources shared through the network: a great deal has been achieved in Wales. I hope that Wales will now consider fostering links beyond its border in order that the professional expertise can grow further and so that even more learners can benefit from the evidence-based approach in teaching and learning."

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 15 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

Search for Best Money Management Team in Wales Narrows

Young people across Wales have been putting their ideas on managing money into practice in their communities, and the top 11 projects have won through to the Wales National Final of a prestigious award-winning competition.

The 11 ideas have come from diverse groups of young people, including tenants in social housing, learners trying to get into the labour market, young employees and a Communities First group. What they have in common is that they are all young people who are improving the money management skills of their peers and communities - and of course themselves.

They are all competing for the Money for Life Challenge – a UK-wide competition by Lloyds Bank that is managed in Wales by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales.

Of the top 11 teams, five will be competing to be named Wales' National Winner at the prestigious Wales National Final to be held at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Tuesday 8 April 2014. They are:

  • ARiAN [Apprentice Resources in A Nutshell] - team of 16 to 20 year old apprentices from John Lewis in Cardiff who created an online network to raise awareness on successful money management for young apprentices and designed and launched a webpage and blog to feature money management tips
  • Cadwyn Money Smart - a team of 16 to 21 year old tenants from Cadwyn Housing Association, who made a short film to share information about services that provide advice for saving, budgeting and loans for other young people in their communities
  • Fashion on a Budget - a team of 16 to 19 year olds from East Cardiff Llanedeyrn & Pentwyn (ECLP) Communities First, an anti-Poverty Programme at Trowbridge Community Centre. The group created a fashion show called 'Style yourself on a budget", which featured clothes purchased only from charity shops to tackle the stigma often attached to buying second-hand clothes and showcase the quality of charity shop goods at affordable prices
  • Money Monkeys - a team of learners from ITEC who have set up a financial awareness project aimed at giving young people the knowledge and skills they need as they move into adulthood
  • V21 Financial Independence Team a team 23 to 24 year old students from Vision 21, a heath-based charity, created a visual money management board game to help adults with learning needs understand issues such as coin recognition, the cost of living, budgeting and saving money

Alongside the five finalists, six additional teams will compete for the People's Prize. They are:

  • Bejewelled Glitz (Randomz – The Cwmbran Centre for Young People)
  • Broke but Beautiful (Bridgend College)
  • Byte Back on a Budget (Bridgend College)
  • Educating Others (Coleg Cambria)
  • Engage 2 Change (E2C) (Monmouthshire County Council)
  • The £ Factor (Bridgend College)

The Wales National Winner and the People's Prize winning team will represent Wales at the Money for Life Challenge UK Grand Final at the O2 Arena in London on 15 May. The winning team will also be awarded £1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice and each member of the team will receive £50-worth of shopping vouchers.

Manager of the Money for Life Programme in Wales, ColegauCymru's Rachel Dodge, said: "I am delighted that the Money for Life Challenge in Wales is bigger and better than ever this year.

"More groups have been funded to develop money management projects, and the groups that have taken part in the Money for Life Challenge are more diverse. We've seen a lot of fresh ideas this year, and the competition has really stepped up to a higher level.

"Thanks to all those who submitted their ideas. Well done to all of the teams who have got this far in the competition, and good luck to each of the teams as they prepare for the Wales National Final on 8 April."

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 15 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 Challenge is a national competition that provides £500 grants to empower teams of 16 to 24 year olds in further education, work based learning, adult community learning or a training organisation who can set up a team and apply for one of 300 grants to run a money management project in the local community.

The Money for Life Challenge was created in consultation with further education and community partners: ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, National Training Federation for Wales, National Skills Academy for Financial Services, Toynbee Hall, College Development Network, Young Scot and NOW.
ColegauCymru / CollegesWales manages the Challenge in Wales, in partnership with the NTfW.

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 2013.

Welsh Women Rugby Champs Set to Defend British Title

Reigning British champions, the Welsh Colleges Women's Rugby team, is looking forward to another excellent performance in the forthcoming British Colleges Sport National Championships thanks to a new partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union and top coaching by Welsh international players.

The Welsh Colleges Women's Rugby team has won the British Colleges National Championship Cup for the last five years. The new squad now in training for the 2014 Cup starting on 4 April at the University of Bath is blessed with a bigger talent pool, better facilities and more international level coaches than ever before.

Since the WRU started supporting women's rugby in colleges 18 months ago alongside colleges' own investment through Welsh Colleges Sport, rugby has become an increasingly popular choice for young women at college.

Two of the lead coaches - Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's Jenny Davies and Coleg y Cymoedd's Gemma Hallett - are not only sport lecturers but also Welsh international players, Jenny, Wales's most capped player within the current Wales squad with 61 caps and part of the squad to play France at Aberavon RFC on Sunday, has been head coach of the Welsh Colleges team since 2005 and believes the current group of players has benefited greatly from the recent partnership.

Speaking at yesterday's squad training at Llandarcy Academy of Sport, Jenny said: "This season has seen a huge increase in the number of young women coming forward for selection, allowing us to build on previous success at the BCS Championships. There are a number of players within the current Welsh Women's squad who have played for Welsh Colleges or work in colleges, providing outstanding role models for the current team. These include Rebecca DeFilippo, Catrina Nicholas, Fion Evans, Mored Evans, Delyth Davies, Eliie Norkett, Kerin Lake and Fion Jones to name a few."

WRU Regional Development Manager, Ben Rose, said: "Women's rugby is an area of real growth across the world especially with the introduction of rugby sevens to the Olympic programme. This year is also Women's Rugby World Cup year and there are a number of young women in colleges, who have a real opportunity to play in the tournament in France.

"The Colleges team is an excellent springboard for young women to have a taste of representative rugby. The WRU works alongside Welsh Colleges Sport to provide opportunities for girls to represent the country.

"The partnership also provides an opportunity for young women to participate in inter colleges events. The Colleges' programme provides opportunities for sevens, tens and 15-a-side rugby."

ColegauCymru Sports Coordinator, Rob Baynham, said: "The complementary partnership of proactive WRU support and further education colleges' expert coaches is making a big impact in developing rugby for female students in FE.

"With top level coaching, provision of specialist training facilities and new initiatives including mixed touch rugby, there's been a dramatic rise in the take-up of the sport this season. The partnership is demonstrating that young women are keen to engage with sport when given the right environment.

"We're looking here at a potential pool of future Welsh international players as well as PE teachers and rugby coaches. It's strong step forward in developing Wales as a sporting nation of young women."

"I wish the squad the best of luck as it prepares to defend its title at the British Colleges Championship."

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 15 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. Welsh Colleges Sport brings together further education colleges in Wales under the umbrella of ColegauCymru to organise fixtures and to increase participation in sport.

3. The largest annual national multi-sports championships of its kind in the UK, the BCS National Championships, will be held at the University of Bath from the 4-6 April 2014. The BCS National Championships involves more than 2,000 students and staff from further education colleges across England, Scotland and Wales competing in 14 different sports.

Agreeing the balance: creating safe college communities

Further education colleges in Wales are the first in the UK to come together with a mission to ensure that college communities are places where learners are free to form and embrace their own identity and beliefs, and also able to live and learn safe from harm.

At a groundbreaking conference, organised by ColegauCymru, the UK Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU), and supported by the Welsh Government, local authorities and the police, all partners worked to develop a shared understanding and common purpose in the creation of safe learning communities for staff and learners at further education colleges.

Such was the impact of the conference, facilitated through strong partnerships and the range of key stakeholders that were brought together, that BIS hopes that this conference will become a template for the rest of the UK.


Colleges provide a highly inclusive comprehensive learning environment. They take pride in their diversity and social inclusion. They also place great importance on pastoral care and safeguarding of learners, particularly those aged under 18 and vulnerable adults.

At a time where terrorist threats are often in the news and friends and foes alike may come under suspicion and surveillance, there's a real need to assess the question of balance: between on the one hand allowing learners freedom: freedom to be different, to be experimental, to have strong views and to have challenging ideas; and on the other hand, to keep learners safe from exploitation, bullying, grooming, extremism, harassment, hate crime and violence.

Katy Burns, Coordinator of ColegauCymru's Student Services Network, and co-organiser of the successful conference, said: "Going to college is a growing up experience for many young people. It is a formative period in their lives where they start to explore new ways of thinking and experiment with an evolving identity. This development is part of the learning experience and is to be welcomed.

"Whilst learners have freedom to explore new ways of thinking and believing, colleges also have a duty of responsible guardianship for their learning communities. They must also safeguard learners from falling prey to extremism or being subject to bullying, harassment, substance misuse, exploitation and violence.

"The purpose of the conference was to ensure that all the relevant agencies and college managers work together to put in place the necessary measures to achieve the right balance.

"The conference explored good practice that already exists in Wales' colleges and identified those areas where a more coherent national plan of action would help."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Following the conference, ColegauCymru will now seek to bring together the good practice as well as tailored learning resources into a toolkit and to assist with staff and learner training. This will complement the work being undertaken by the Welsh Government to review its guidance to further education colleges on preventing violent extremism.

"The goal is to ensure that learning communities across Wales have the knowledge and confidence to safeguard appropriately within a free environment."

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

2. The conference, "Safe College Communities" took place on Thursday 13 February 2014 at The Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.

3. The conference organising partners: ColegauCymru, the UK Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU). The conference was supported by the Welsh Government.

4. The Welsh Government is currently reviewing the guidance it issued in 2011 to further education colleges on preventing violent extremism: "Creating Safe Learning Communities", which is published here: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/safelearning/?lang=en

Widening Welsh-medium Progression in Education

A project is underway to improve opportunities for learners to cross the bridge from further education to higher education through the medium of Welsh, thanks to a partnership between the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and ColegauCymru.

Five colleges from the four corners of Wales have succeeded in their applications for funding from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to develop pilot projects.

The pilot projects aim to target a range of vocational sectors by developing specific resources for new Welsh-medium courses such as criminology, social sciences and childcare. They will also prepare activities to give further education students a taste of what is available through the medium of Welsh at university.

It is anticipated that the projects will be able to offer benefits to wider range of students than the five colleges which are part of the scheme, namely: The College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg Cambria, Bridgend College and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

These pilot projects put into practice the Memorandum of Understanding between the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and ColegauCymru which was signed last summer. The key aim of the Memorandum is to strengthen study paths through the medium of Welsh for further education students moving on to higher education.

Chief Executive of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Dr Ioan Matthews said: "The memorandum has been a good starting point for us to strengthen the relationship between universities and the further education sector. Through these pilot projects, and in the context of the Coleg's Academic Plan and the Welsh Government's Welsh Medium Education Strategy, we are looking to strengthen Welsh-medium and bilingual progression to university for those learners who are studying at further education college."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru Dr John Graystone said: "There are clear benefits to working in partnership with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to widen opportunities for Welsh-speaking further education learners. The further education colleges are all eager to improve bilingual and Welsh-medium opportunities for their learners and we thank the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol for funding these pilot projects.

"I am looking forward to seeing these projects being put into practice and, eventually, to see learners move on to Welsh-medium higher education with confidence, supported by the two sectors."

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 15 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. Pictured: representatives of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and ColegauCymru at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at the National Eisteddfod 2013.


Sports Coordinator for Wales' Colleges Appointed


Robert Baynham
Sports Coordinator for FE in Wales
Tel: 029 2052 8397
An appointment has been made to the new post of Sports Coordinator for further education colleges in Wales with the key aims of further developing sporting opportunities and increasing participation in sports and active lifestyles, particularly among 16-24 year olds, and with a special focus on young women.

Robert Baynham, previously Manager of Student Sport at Gower College Swansea and Secretary of Welsh Colleges Sport, has been appointed to the new post by ColegauCymru. The post is supported financially by Sport Wales.

Wales' further education colleges offer a wide range of sports and invest thousands of volunteered hours in organising national and international fixtures through Welsh Colleges Sport. Learners are given opportunities to compete in inter-college leagues, represent Wales at the British Colleges National Championships and other Wales-wide and UK-level leagues and cups, and represent Wales' colleges on an international level.

The main objectives of the new post of the Sport Coordinator for FE in Wales, are to raise the profile of Welsh Colleges Sport, increase participation in female sport and underrepresented groups, and develop new sports volunteering opportunities in FE.

Sport Wales Senior Officer, Carwyn Young said: "We're pleased to be embarking on this exciting new relationship with CollegesWales. The new role will play a vital part in building on the collaborative work we undertake with primary and secondary level education. We have identified the Further Education sector as having significant potential, in helping us to fulfil our ambitions of increasing the amount of sporting and therefore healthy, active, lifestyle opportunities available to young people. We look forward to seeing a rise in participation levels, specifically among those groups such as young women, who traditionally have been harder to reach."

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, John Graystone, said: "I am delighted to welcome Robert Baynham to this important new role. Rob brings 20 years' experience of sports' development and management in further education colleges. I am confident that Rob Baynham will hit the ground running and make an immediate difference to the organisation of college sport on a national level."

Rob Baynham said: "What a great year to start in a newly created post in sports. On top of the annual fixtures, leagues and British Colleges National Championship, we'll be seeing the staging of the IPC European Athletics Championship in Swansea and the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow.

"Awareness is also growing that we need to develop more opportunities that will encourage young women to participate in sport and physical activity. Wales' colleges are keen to play their part in supporting young women to develop a more active lifestyle.

"This is an exciting challenge and an opportunity to build on an area of sport that has massive potential for development. I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues in colleges and in Sport Wales to widen opportunities in sport."

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

Notes to editors:

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 15 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

Tight funding squeeze on colleges

The Welsh Government has published next year's funding allocations for further education colleges and as expected, it will be a tough settlement to manage, with new cuts added to cuts already made this year.

The funding allocated to Wales' further education colleges and institutions for 2014/15 amount to £305 million. This is a reduction of £5 million compared to last year. Added to the £2.5 million of cuts made during the current academic year, the sector stands to lose £7.5 million over two years in cash terms.

The loss in real terms is clearly more as a result of inflation, increases in pension contributions and other financial pressures.

Costs are continually going up. Staff costs make up the single biggest item of expenditure in colleges. Last year, colleges honoured the Welsh Government's policy of pay parity by awarding staff a 1% pay increase plus annual increments. This year alone, these two factors have taken around £6.5 million out of colleges' budgets. Next year's pay deal has yet to be agreed.

The Welsh Government has protected funding for 16-18 year olds in full-time education. There is also a ringfenced pot of funding for improving the skills of adults who are already in work. The cut in funding will inevitably fall disproportionately on adults aged 19 and over who are not in work.

Clearly, there will be an impact on learning. The nature of the impact is still, however, unclear. The sector is awaiting a decision from the Welsh Government on how much learning each college is expected to deliver in 2014/15.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Now that the budget allocation for further education has been published, colleges are already taking on the difficult challenge of planning their budgets for 2014/15.

"It would be unreasonable to expect colleges to deliver the same amount of learning next year, given two funding cuts in a row plus significant cost increases.

"As a nation, we cannot afford to reduce the investment in skills. We must support a growing economy. We must also maintain and strive to further improve quality across the whole of the education sector in Wales, and the further education is a key part of that.

"But the numbers of learners will inevitably reduce as colleges take a hard look at the number of courses they provide. The extent of the reductions will depend on the targets that the Welsh Government sets for the sector. We will hear in the next few weeks the amount of learning the Welsh Government expects colleges to deliver in return for its reduced investment in 2014/15.

"Colleges will do their utmost to manage their budgets and protect learning.

"Colleges know that if students aged over 19 are turned away, there is nowhere else for them to go. Many people are desperate to learn, to get skills and to get on. In the changing global economy, to get a job a person must improve their skills continually in the context of a highly competitive jobs market. And those who didn't reach their potential in school also want to take control and get back into learning.

"We will work closely with the Welsh Government and other partners to continue to do our best for Wales and its learners. The stakes are high. The cuts are tough."

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 15 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

Skills Statement Welcomed by Colleges

ColegauCymru welcomes the publication today of the Welsh Government's policy statement on skills, which draws its various initiatives and plans into one document.

Responding to the publication, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru John Graystone said: "The Welsh Government's policy statement on skills is a helpful and positive document that sets out what the Government is currently doing as well as its longer term intentions with respect to skills."

Three quarters of funded vocational and technical education in Wales is provided by further education colleges - both on campus and in the workplace. Colleges work closely with employers and sector skills councils to ensure that the training they provide is job-related and of high quality and meets local skills needs.

John Graystone continued: "I am pleased to see that the policy statement recognises the importance of collaboration between higher and further education, the emphasis on developing higher level skills in response to changes in employment including an increased focus on higher apprenticeships and foundation degrees, and the need for a better understanding of Welsh language skills needs in the workplace.

"I am also pleased to see the emphasis on helping adults to improve their skills. The policy statement sets out the Government's commitment to support adult vocational qualifications at all levels, including raising the value of vocational education and training as a route into higher learning. At the other end of the education spectrum, it says the Government is also committed to supporting adults who have low levels of literacy and numeracy to attain these essential skills.

"Wales faces a big skills challenge. Sustained public and private investment in skills are essential in enabling Wales to rebuild its industries and promote social justice. Colleges will work closely with government, employers and to ensure that this challenge is met."

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 15 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 Welsh Government's statement is available from: http://wales.gov.uk/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2014/8417459/?lang=en

Chinese Visit Deepens Relationship with Wales' Colleges

In a sign of a deepening relationship between China and Wales, another delegation from vocational colleges in China has been touring Wales' further education colleges, learning of our similarities and differences, with a view to developing opportunities for Chinese students to study in Wales and also to consider potential developments for Wales' colleges in China.

The two-week visit by nine learners and seven staff from six vocational colleges in Chongqing, China, was organised by CollegesWales (UK) International on behalf of the Wales-Chongqing FE Consortium. Five colleges in Wales worked in partnership to deliver a programme of cultural and educational experiences for the delegation that demonstrated a range of vocational expertise.

The five FE colleges, Coleg Cambria, NPTC Group, Coleg y Cymoedd, Cardiff and Vale College and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, gave the Chinese delegation an insight into vocational education in the fields of aerospace, business and entrepreneurship, catering, childcare, creative arts, hair and beauty, landbased studies, music and multimedia, robotics, and travel and tourism.

Chief Executive of CollegesWales John Graystone said: "This was the second delegation of Chinese staff from vocational colleges to Wales and it was clear that they were impressed with what they saw and experienced. I am pleased that so many colleges worked together to facilitate a coherent programme of vocational as well as cultural experiences for the delegation, taking in north, mid and as south Wales. The spirit of partnership augurs well for developing training opportunities in partnership in the future.

"It was a particular delight to welcome vocational students as part of this delegation – a first in our three year relationship with Chongqing vocational colleges. The level of their English was particularly impressive: even more so recognising that they are vocational students, not language undergraduates, and despite being taught in large classes of 50 or more students.

"As much as the Chinese students were impressed with – and indeed rather envious of - the highly practical nature of vocational education in Wales that routinely blends work-relevant practice with classroom studies, it is also clear that Wales has a thing or two to learn from the Chinese.

"Wales' colleges have already benefited from three cultural and educational visits to China, also organised by CollegesWales (UK) International. And colleges are now preparing for a further visit to Chongqing to celebrate Wales Week in March 2014. It is clear that all of the colleges in this partnership are deepening their understanding of one another and finding grounds for developing constructive training opportunities both for staff and for students."

At the farewell ceremony in the company of the participating colleges, CollegesWales (UK) International and the Welsh Government, Mr Jun Wu, the group leader from Chonqging City Management College, said: "This has been a great learning experience and has sparked many potential opportunities to further strengthen the partnership between us. We share the same mission and goals and if we can go hand in hand in partnership we will reach our targets."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 2500 or 07968 771913

Notes to Editors

1. CollegesWales (UK) International CollegesWales (UK) International is the international arm of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales – the national representative body for further education in Wales.
CollegesWales (UK) International has three key strands:
• It coordinates the Wales-Chongqing FE Consortium
• It coordinates a programme of work experience in Europe for apprentices from Wales
• It hosts official delegations from other countries who want to learn about the FE system and vocational training and education in Wales and scope potential future partnerships.

2. The Wales-Chongqing FE Consortium was officially launched by Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones at the Welsh Government's office in Chongqing in March 2011. More information is available from http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk/en-GB/china-270.aspx

3. The Chinese delegation took place from 12 – 27 January 2014. It comprised of 16 staff and students from: Chongqing City Management College, Chongqing Lixin Vocational Education College, Chongqing Telecommunications Polytechnic College, Chongqing Youth Vocational and Technical College, Sichuan Water Conservancy Vocational College, and Chongqing Urban Vocational College.

Colleges Respond Positively to Estyn's Challenges

ColegauCymru is delighted that Estyn's Annual Report, published today, recognises the excellent learning partnerships that further education (FE) colleges have established, their high wellbeing standards, their considerable efforts to reduce the impact of deprivation, the calibre of the guidance and support services available to learners and the high quality vocational expertise of college lecturers.

Over the last few years, the FE college sector has responded to the Welsh Government policy to transform the post-16 education landscape and a series of mergers between colleges, between colleges and universities and between colleges and training providers have taken place. During that period, colleges have maintained strong leadership and management, including, as the Estyn Annual Report identifies, good management of resources.

The targets that Estyn has set for the FE sector are: to embed literacy and numeracy across learning programmes; to develop learners' Welsh language skills; and to spread excellent teaching and assessment more consistently throughout institutions.

Colleges are responding swiftly to Estyn's professional judgements and are already working to meet these challenges.

Through ColegauCymru, and in many cases with the support of the Welsh Government, colleges have been participating in a series of nationally coordinated opportunities to improve teaching and learning. Pedagogy improvements through action research have been taking place in every college, which will culminate in a national conference and the publication of new college-created resources in March 2014.

Welsh-medium learning opportunities are increasing, and colleges are starting to put into practice the Memorandum of Understanding signed by ColegauCymru and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol at last year's National Eisteddfod.

Chief executive of ColegauCymru John Graystone said: "I am pleased that Estyn recognises the many strengths that lie in Wales' colleges. Colleges are recognised for their efforts to reduce the impact of poverty on learning outcomes, in developing a safe and nurturing learning environment, and for the strong vocational expertise that their teaching staff maintain.

"Colleges also accept the challenges that Estyn has set for the sector and have already put in place a series of actions to meet these challenges. ColegauCymru is coordinating a number of national-level development opportunities in teaching and learning, promoting best practice from within Wales as well as further afield. We are also collaborating with the Welsh Government in improving teaching approaches and assessment through action research.

"Colleges never stand still. They are continually developing and are quick to respond – to the Welsh Government's transformation agenda, the economic recession, and the Estyn Annual Report as well as to their local communities and to their learners. Estyn confirms that colleges in Wales have strong leadership and management and the signs are good for continued improvement."

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 16 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 Estyn Annual Report is available from: http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/annual-report/annu...

Royal Seal of Approval for Welsh Act that Shows Confidence in Wales' FE Colleges


ColegauCymru is delighted that the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014 has been granted Royal Assent by Her Majesty the Queen.

The key purpose of the Act is to ensure that Wales' further education colleges keep their independent status rather than being subsumed within central government.

The Act enhances the autonomy and decision making abilities of FE colleges. It also modernises and streamlines bureaucracy.

ColegauCymru Chief Executive John Graystone said: "This is a highly significant moment in the history of further education in Wales. The National Assembly for Wales has, in passing this Act, demonstrated its confidence in Wales' FE colleges and ensured that the sector is given the flexibility it needs to respond to the needs of their learners, their local communities and Wales' economy.

"Colleges will of course continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to ensure that they meet its ambitious agenda to raise skills levels and raise aspirations. The Welsh Government currently provides around 80% of college funding – including FE and work-based learning and capital funding.

"But an appropriate balance needs to be struck between ensuring colleges deliver the Welsh Government agenda, the taxpayer receiving value for money, and the increased freedom of colleges to manage their own affairs and respond to the needs of their local communities.

"Colleges, through ColegauCymru, intend to draw up a new working relationship with the Welsh Government in order to ensure that the confidence that the Assembly has shown in colleges through the passing of this Act is appropriately maintained and enhanced."

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 16 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. A Bill receives Royal Assent when Letters Patent under the Welsh Seal signed with Her Majesty's own hand signifying Her Assent are notified to the Clerk of the Assembly. The First Minister, as Keeper of the Welsh Seal, applied the Seal to the Letters Patent in a ceremony in Cardiff on 27 January 2014. Further information is available from the Welsh Government: http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/firstminister/2014/14...

Common Contract for Colleges Recommended for Adoption

The ColegauCymru Board on 7 January 2014 agreed to recommend to further education colleges the common contract agreed between the negotiating team of ColegauCymru and the joint trade unions.

Each further education (FE) college currently employs its staff under different contracts. Staff have different holidays. A lecturer in one college might teach fewer or more hours than a lecturer in another college. ColegauCymru and the joint trade unions (JTUs) have worked to harmonise the conditions of service into a national contract for staff in FE, with the support of the Welsh Government.

The parameters set for the negotiations were that any national contract for FE should be cost neutral in national terms. That is, the Welsh Government had made it clear that no additional funding would be made available to the sector should ColegauCymru and the Joint Trade Unions agree a contract that would be costly to implement.

In setting a national contract for FE corporations for the first time, each with a different set of contracts, it is inevitable that not all staff – or all colleges – will benefit equally from the resulting contract. Given these parameters, and the different requirements brought to the table by the different partners in the negotiation, the process in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion was lengthy, taking almost four years in total.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I am pleased that the negotiations on the common contract have come to a satisfactory conclusion. They have been tough. Both sides have made concessions. The ColegauCymru Board has now recommended the common contract to each college governing body.

"Now that ColegauCymru has recommended the national contract to colleges, each college's governing body will decide how to take it forward.

"We are hopeful that many colleges to adopt the national contract swiftly and transfer all of their staff to the new contract by 1 August 2014. Assuming governing body acceptance, all college staff will transfer to the new contract by 1 September 2016.

Dr Graystone concluded: "I would like to offer my special thanks to the negotiating team, led by Mark Dacey, principal of the NPTC Group, for their hard work and commitment over the four years of negotiations. I am very pleased that the negotiating team and the ColegauCymru Board have achieved what they set out to do."
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 16 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