News Archive 2015

Colleges’ Stamp of Approval by Estyn for Supporting Learners

In a new report by Estyn, colleges’ support for learners has been given a stamp of approval. Colleges will now look forward to working with partners to improve the system as a whole and open up opportunities for all 16 year old learners.

The report published by Estyn today, 10 December, commends the broad range of flexible learning choices that colleges offer 16-19 year olds as well as the good support and careers advice they provide. It confirms colleges’ own assessments that their pastoral support is strong and that it improves the life chances of their learners.

The report goes on to recommend that local authorities should work more closely with further education colleges to support learners who progress to college and to ensure that all learners are aware of the full range of post-16 options available to them. The report also recommends that colleges develop a common method to measure their learners’ achievements.

Responding to the report, Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: “Colleges work hard to provide a wide range of learning choices that are also flexible and that respond to the needs of learners in all their diversity. They work continually to improve and assess progress, identifying and sharing good practice across the college sector. I am delighted that the report by Estyn has validated the good work that takes place day in day out at colleges across Wales in supporting learners through their studies and beyond.

“Estyn’s positive report confirms the quality of colleges’ pastoral support systems. The challenge now is to work with others to improve the system across Wales as a whole. We need a system in Wales that supports each and every learner. No learner should be failed by the system. All learners should understand the options that are available to them at age 16 and the system should ensure that each learner’s transition to college can be planned effectively.

“Colleges will look forward to working with partners to take forward the recommendations.”

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Assembly Budget Spells Welcome Relief for Colleges

FE colleges will be relieved that next year’s draft Assembly budget appears to afford some protection to the further education budget, according to ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

Today, 8 December 2015, Welsh Government Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, published the draft Assembly budget for 2016/17. In her statement to the Assembly, she said: "The Further Education budget is protected from cuts, with a further £5 million to create an additional 2,500 apprenticeships”.

The Welsh Government’s draft budget recognises that three years of reductions have had a significant impact on the post-16 sector and that “it has become clear that there is limited ability to absorb future cuts while also delivering the range of provision necessary to create the workforce of the future”.

Responding to the draft budget statement, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “The last few years have been exceptionally challenging for the further education sector, with three years of cuts including a reduction of £17 million in colleges’ allocation this year. The specific cut of 50% cut to adult part-time learning has limited the opportunities to earn as you learn.

“We are therefore relieved that the Welsh Government has recognised the need to protect the further education budget next year.”

The charity noted, however, that with no increase to colleges’ allocations, cost pressures will continue. Teachers’ pensions and National Insurance increases will need to be absorbed within a flat budget.

Iestyn Davies concluded: “We are pleased that the Welsh Government has recognised the important contribution of further education to the future prospects of Wales’ economy and has halted the year-on-year decrease in the further education budget.

“We will continue to make the case, working with the current and future Welsh Government, of the need for a firm foundation for further education. Wales’ individuals, communities and its economy deserve the opportunity to reach their potential and help Wales become a more prosperous nation.

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Calls for Further Education Investment in Assembly Budget

Ahead of the publication of the Assembly draft budget on Tuesday, the body that represents all of Wales’ colleges has called on the Welsh Government to deliver fair funding for further education.

In order to meet the challenges of a world-class skills system, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has spelled out the critical need for increased investment in post-compulsory education and training, recognising in particular the decline in part-time education for adults over recent years.

The budget for part-time adult education in colleges has been cut by 50% in this academic year and comes on top of cuts made in the previous two years. According to the charity, the situation is reaching crisis point and trade unions have already staged gate protests at a number of colleges.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “Further education colleges deliver a wide range of academic, vocational and professional qualifications and are a vital part of the fabric of Wales’ economy and communities.

“Whilst we need to protect funding for 16-19 year olds, so that our young people have the best start in life, we must also recognise that part-time education for adults is in desperate need of new investment. The budget for part-time education for adults has been cut three years in a row, including a dramatic cut of 50% in this academic year.

“We need the Welsh Government to take action to address the overall needs of post 16 education. Without funded part time learning, too many people in Wales will be deprived of an opportunity to earn while they learn.

“We hope that the draft Assembly budget, which will be published on Tuesday, will look more favourably and holistically at the complete needs of learners. We need politicians to demonstrate that they are planning to give Wales’ economy, its communities and individuals every opportunity possible to reach their potential.”

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Response to investigation into West London Vocational Training College in Cardiff

Response by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales to an investigation by the BBC Wales programme, Week in Week Out, aired on 1 December 2015, into the practices of West London Vocational Training College in Cardiff.

West London Vocational Training College is an England-based private college.

By contrast, all of Wales’ further education college corporations are not-for-profit. They have robust internal mechanisms that track finances as well as the progress of learners. They are run by teams of professionals, which include managers appointed specifically to ensure high quality standards, as well as HR and staff development managers and professionally qualified accountants.

In addition, they are subject to an external quality assurance system that includes external financial auditors, examination bodies, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate - Estyn, as well as the Welsh Government.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “I would like to assure the Welsh public that Wales’ further education colleges are not associated with the current investigations into West London Vocational Training College.

“No system is 100% watertight. Individuals can be found in all types of organisations from time to time who disregard rules and even legal requirements. But Wales’ further education colleges have robust internal mechanisms to ensure that they are properly run and that they use the public money invested in them wisely.

“They are accountable to their communities through their governing bodies and to all of Wales through the system of external regulation and inspection.

“In addition, Wales’ further education colleges are proactive in looking for continual improvements, stretching their learners to reach their potential, and helping their learners demonstrate their skills to employers, prospective employers and their communities.

“Every year, learners put their skills on show, undertaking a wide range of charitable and voluntary work in their communities, as well as participating in local, regional and national skills competitions. Indeed, three of Wales’ colleges feature in the WorldSkills UK Providers’ League Table of Medals 2015.

“Wales’ colleges – their teachers, managers and their learners – are under constant scrutiny and on public show. There aren’t many hiding places for unscrupulous practices. And that is how it should be. Wales’ further education colleges belong to their communities and to Wales. They are committed to success and will continue to follow the path to excellence.”

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Budding young entrepreneurs prepare for city centre retail challenge

Thirty-six South Wales students are about to take on the challenge of their life so far as they prepare to compete for sales during one of Cardiff’s busiest retail periods as part of an entrepreneurial challenge.

The budding young entrepreneurs are through to the finals of Trading Places, a challenge designed to encourage entrepreneurship among college students in South East Wales, providing real life enterprise experience.

Over three days in the lead up to Christmas, the students from Bridgend College, Coleg Gwent, Coleg y Cymoedd, The College Merthyr Tydfil, St David’s Catholic College and Cardiff and Vale College will take part in a three-day real-life business experience leading to them running their own pop-up shop in Cardiff city centre’s Morgan Quarter.

The final six students from each college competed against 120 others during an assessment event involving role models and entrepreneurs from the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales campaign at EE’s Wales headquarters at Merthyr Tydfil in November.

The finals take place in Cardiff between 15th and 17th December.

“We’re in our fourth year now and Trading Places has become a national exemplar of how to engage with young people who have the potential to become entrepreneurs of the future,” said Chris Webb Further Education Co-ordinator of First Campus at the University of South Wales, which organises and co-ordinates the event.

“The finalists have already demonstrated their entrepreneurial streak to a panel of Big Ideas Wales entrepreneurs and role models and now they go forward putting that to practice in a real life business environment.”

Over the three day finals they will be based at Cardiff University and the University of South Wales to discuss and plan their final pop-up shop idea, putting together business plans, sourcing products and then selling to the public at a shop provided by the Morgan Quarter in Cardiff city centre during one of the busiest retail periods leading up to Christmas.

“It’ll be a very intense experience for them all, but they’ll learn a lot from the mentors and entrepreneurs as well as their own entrepreneurial streak as they compete for the final prize,” added Chris.

Trading Places is a collaborative project between the FE Enterprise Hub and First Campus in partnership with the Morgan Quarter in Cardiff, NatWest, EE and the HE Enterprise Hub and Big Ideas Wales, the Welsh Government’s campaign to encourage more young people to become entrepreneurs in Wales.

It aims to develop entrepreneurial skills and attitudes through practical experiences and has been designed by the SE Wales YES Hub and First Campus to enhance links between education and industry in line with the Welsh Government's Youth Enterprise Strategy (YES) Action Plan for 2010-15.

In September Trading Places won a national UK award for its work, taking the National Enterprise Educators Award 2015 (FE Enterprise Champions Category).

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WorldSkills UK success for Wales

Ten young people from across Wales – including a brother and sister from Llanelli - have been named the ‘best in the UK’ at the national final of a major skills competition.

Bruno Forkuoh, 23, and Elizabeth Forkuoh, 19, from Llanelli, were both awarded gold medals in their respective categories at the WorldSkills UK final, which took place at the prestigious Skills Show in Birmingham from 19 to 21 November.

Elizabeth, who was awarded the Gold medal in Restaurant Service, and Bruno, who won gold in the Manufacturing Team Challenge category, were among the 45 Welsh competitors who won a total of 10 Gold, 7 Silver, 12 Bronze and 16 Medallions of Excellence, a record achievement for Wales.

The selection for Squad UK also took place at the event, with 20 Welsh competitors – including Bruno and Elizabeth - named as part of the squad of 153 that will potentially represent the UK at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

WorldSkills UK Competitions inspire young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level and are the highlight of The Skills Show. During the final at the NEC, over 650 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners battled it out in over 50 competitions in their chosen skill ranging from plumbing and cookery to web design and floristry.

The youngsters were given the opportunity to show off their ability in a series of intense demonstrations over 20 hours of competition.

To earn their place in the WorldSkills UK final, each learner was required to compete against his or her peers from organisations across the UK through a series of regional competitions.

This year saw the largest ever Welsh contingent at the Skills Show, with a total of 82 individuals chosen to represent Wales - the highest regional proportion of the 650 competitors.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James attended the Skills Show this year. Commenting on Wales’ success in the WorldSkills UK final, she said: “It gave me great pride to be able to attend the Skills Show and witness Wales’ success in the WorldSkills UK competition first-hand.

“The fact that a record number of learners, apprentices and employees were selected to represent Wales in this year’s final was already an achievement in itself, but for the team to bring home so many medals and to have so many individuals selected to join the UK Squad is a huge credit to their hard work, talent and determination.”

Six of the Welsh winners took part in the Inclusive Skills competition set up by Natspec (The Association of National Specialist Colleges) that enables young people with a disability or learning difficulty to participate in events like the Skills Show.

Individual colleges across Wales also enjoyed significant success with Coleg Sir Gar students winning five gold medals and Coleg Cambria learners winning two gold medals. Coleg Sir Gar was also successful in having six of its competitors selected for Squad UK, the highest of any Welsh college.
Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales, congratulated the Welsh competitors on their success.

“The fact that our young people are able to compete with and win against the very best across the UK – and indeed the world – is testament to the impressive level of skills we have here in Wales. Last year, four Welsh youngsters succeeded in progressing right through the ranks of the WorldSkills competition and got to travel to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the world final.

“I hope that the success that these talented individuals have enjoyed will inspire them to go on to become highly skilled employees as well as convincing other young people of the importance of developing their own skills.”

WorldSkills International takes place in cities around the globe and is the largest international skills competition. The next WorldSkills Competition takes place in 2017, in Abu Dhabi. WorldSkills is supported by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, to promote the importance of a highly-skilled workforce, aiming to boost high level skills in Wales.

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Provided by Golley Slater.

27/11/15: Wales: no longer a learning country

Responding to the publication of official statistics that show a significant fall in the number of adult learners, college body ColegauCymru said the decline was so great that Wales could no longer lay claim to being ‘a learning country’.

Figures just released by the Welsh Government show the number of people studying part time at colleges has fallen below 100,000 for the first time. Last year alone, there was a 15,000 drop in the number of individuals studying part time. It adds to a long-term year-on-year fall, with the number of learners studying part time over the last ten year period having dropped by more than half. And the decline is set to continue.

The official statistics for Wales show that 57% of all college learners studied part time in 2014/15. The previous year, it was 60%. Five years ago it was 77%.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Iestyn Davies, said: “A few years ago, the Welsh Government mantra was ‘Wales: a learning country’. Wales cannot not lay claim to such a mantra these days. The latest figures published by the Welsh Government for 2014/15 are the latest in a long line of publications that show a significant decline in adult learning.

“Part-time learning is an exceptionally important lifeline to adults who wish to re-enter the workforce or retrain during their working lives. New jobs with new skills requirements are being invented all the time. In today’s fast-changing economy, adults need to have an opportunity to get new skills at the right time. Continual retraining is a must.

“Too many people have no qualifications at all and many have only low level qualifications. Only around 30% of enrolments at further education institutions, local authority community learning and work-based learning is at Level 3 (the official level of A levels) or higher. This must change.

“Part-time education for adults desperately needs investment. This academic year, 2015/16, the budget for part-time education for adults has been cut again, this time by a dramatic 50%. It is inevitable that the next set of figures for adult learning will show another drop in numbers.

“Wales’ economy and its communities need more people in learning in the first place and more people being supported to learn at higher levels. Compared to the rest of the UK, Wales is a poor performer in education, in health and in the economy. Learning helps provide a route out of poverty and into prosperity.

“We need government to take action to address Wales’ decline. Without funded part time learning, too many people in Wales will be deprived of an opportunity to earn while they learn.

“We hope that the next Assembly budget, which will be published in draft in early December, will look more favourably at the training needs of Wales’ adults. We need politicians to demonstrate that they are planning to give Wales’ economy, communities and individuals every opportunity possible to reach their potential.”

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25/11/15: Welsh Colleges’ National Multi-Sport Competition Results

The multi-sport national competitions for Wales’ college students on 10-11 November proved a feast of sporting prowess, with winners from 10 colleges showing that sporting talent and potential is found in every corner of Wales.

The Welsh Colleges Sports national competitions took place on 10 and 11 November 2015 in Cardiff with 800 college students aged 16-19 from all across Wales competing in 11 different sports.

20 college campuses fielded competitors in badminton, basketball, football, golf, hockey, netball, rugby 7s, squash, table tennis, tennis and volleyball.

The winners will represent Welsh Colleges at the UK-wide AoC National Sport Championships in Newcastle in 2016. The AoC National Sport Championships is the largest annual student sporting event in the UK, attracting over 2,000 students and staff each year.

Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: “The Welsh Colleges championships were a great demonstration of what young people who are getting hooked on sport can achieve, including a phenomenal volunteering taskforce stemming from a growing body of student leaders.

“Congratulations to the winners, who are already back in training, in preparation to represent Wales at the AoC Sport National Championships 2016 in Newcastle next spring.”

The support from the wider sporting community proved to be a particular strength, with high quality facilities opened up and organisational and training support from National Governing Bodies and sports clubs.

National Governing Bodies that supported the event included Basketball Wales, Hockey Wales, Golf Development Wales, Welsh Netball, Welsh Squash and Racquetball, and Tennis Wales.

University and college staff and students provided volunteer workforce on the day, including students from University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Active Valleys, Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg y Cymoedd and The College Merthyr Tydfil.

Gavin Williams, Basketball Wales’ Director of Schools said: “We were delighted to be associated with the Welsh Colleges Sport national competitions this year. Basketball Wales is focusing on getting more players to play club basketball at senior level, so having an opportunity to work with the 16-19 age group is the perfect bridge. There was a great atmosphere throughout the competition, with lots of teams being fielded and strong competition. Congratulations to all!”

Gareth Morgan, Manager of Cardiff Golf Club said: “The club is passionate about developing junior golf and was proud to have talented golfers experience the facility through the Welsh Colleges Sport national competitions. It was great to see talent from all around Wales involved the competition, and good luck to the young men and women who will be representing Welsh Colleges in Newcastle.”

Chair of ColegauCymru, Judith Evans, concluded: “Planning and facilitating 800 competitors across five different venues is a huge undertaking. It was made possible thanks to the help and support of college staff involved in organising, officiating, coaching, driving and supervising and supporting students. It’s great to see the huge range of partners from the wider sporting community strengthening and growing their support for college sports.

“Good luck to the competitors who will represent Wales next spring, and a heartfelt thank you all the supporters in the wider sporting community in helping to grow colleges that are hooked on sport.”

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Event winners:

Men’s Rugby 7s Coleg y Cymoedd - Nantgarw
Men’s Basketball St Davids Catholic College
Netball Gower College Swansea
Men’s Volleyball Coleg Gwent - Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone
Women’s Volleyball Coleg y Cymoedd - Nantgarw
Table Tennis - Men’s Singles Tyler Wasley, Bridgend College
Table Tennis – Men’s Doubles Matthew Simmonds and Ashley Jones, Bridgend College
Women’s Hockey Gower College Swansea
Men’s 5 aside Football Gower College Swansea
Women’s 5 aside Football Coleg y Cymoedd – Ystrad Mynach
Badminton – Men’s Singles Dhruv Bansal, Coleg Cambria - Yale
Badminton - Women’s Singles Danielle Stevenson, Coleg Sir Gâr
Badminton- Men’s Doubles Ben Richards and Luke Pierce, Pembrokeshire College
Men’s Squash Elliott Morris–Devred, St Davids Catholic College
Women’s Squash Elin Harlow, Coleg Llandrillo, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
Tennis - Men’s Singles Matthew Lloyd, Gower College Swansea
Tennis - Women’s Singles Joanne Rees, Bridgend College
Tennis - Men’s Doubles William Bateman and Lewis Phillips, Pembrokeshire College
Men’s Golf

Matthew Harris, St Davids Catholic College
Jordan Pearson, Coleg Cambria - Yale
Harri Pachu, Gower College Swansea
Ben Hicks, Coleg Gwent - Cross Keys

Ladies Golf Elin Jones, Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
Sophie Michael, NPTC Group - Neath

24/11/15: Bold Decisions Needed to Deliver Skills for a Prosperous Nation: colleges’ manifesto for Assembly elections

The next Welsh Government needs to take bold decisions in order to deliver world-class education and skills for a prosperous Wales. So says the body that represents Wales’ further education colleges, ColegauCymru, in a manifesto published today for the Assembly elections in 2016.

Despite a context of challenging finances, colleges have embraced change. They have led a string of mergers, established colleges as regional skills hubs, and are working with a range of partners to develop confident and rounded citizens who are ready and able to establish themselves in the global economy.

But Wales has a long way to go to become prosperous. The manifesto, Skills for a Prosperous Nation, calls for the next government to:

  • Drive productivity by raising an employer-led supply of skills
  • Improve opportunities of 16-19 year old learners by providing a full range of options, academic and vocational, across Wales
  • Secure higher level vocational education that meets Wales’ economic needs
  • Meet the needs of learners in all their diversity.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Iestyn Davies, said: “In UK terms, Wales is a poor performer in both education and the economy. We urgently need to reconfigure education and training in order to ensure all 16-19 year old learners are offered a full range of high quality academic and vocational options. Welsh-medium and English-medium learners alike need access to education and training that prepares them for a competitive workplace and highly esteemed universities.

“Part-time education for adults needs investment. Continual retraining is a must in today’s fast moving global economy and there are too many in Wales with no qualifications at all and many more with low level qualifications. This must change.

“We also need investment in skills in order to move Wales to a high skill, high wage economy. We are calling on the next government to invest in higher level apprenticeships and streamline the funding of foundation degrees.”

Chair of ColegauCymru, Judith Evans, said: “The next Welsh Government will face a series of significant challenges. The challenge in the area of further education and skills can only be met by working in partnership with the colleges and training providers of Wales.

“Our manifesto sets to how the next government and the post-16 education and training sector can deliver the ambition of world-class post-16 education and skills for Wales. It’s as much about how colleges want to change themselves as it is about how government policies have to change.

“Wales’ young people showed last week how, with the support of colleges and work-based training providers, they are fully able to compete with the best in the UK.

“At the WorldSkills UK Finals held at the Skills Show in Birmingham last week, Wales came away with 44 medals and awards. Twenty young Welsh men and women are now confirmed in the WorldSkills UK Squad, hoping to be selected to compete in the biennial WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

“Our post-16 education and training sector has high ambitions for Wales. We need the next government to show that it shares the same ambition and that it will work with the sector to develop Wales’ skills so that we can build a more prosperous nation.”

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18/11/15: Pioneering Study Gives Insight into Sport and Physical Activity Levels Among Young People

In a first of its kind piece of research, Sport Wales has given college students in Wales a voice to shine a light on the sport and physical activity habits of teenagers and young adults.

The pioneering survey provides important insight into how best to support more teens and adults to becoming more physically active and healthier.

Almost half (49%) of college students are hooked on sport according to Sport Wales’ first official* survey of Further Education institutions in Wales.

The figures, launched today, come a few weeks after Sport Wales released the results of its third, official survey of school sport. Those results showed a similar hooked figure of 48% for school children, which means that almost one in two school children in Wales take part in sport three or more times a week.

Over 4,500 students aged 16 and over had their say on what gets them active. As with this year’s School Sport Survey, important factors such as enjoyment, confidence and feeling engaged and listened to all come through as strong motivators for being hooked on sport. However, while there are similar trends between the School Sport Survey and FE Survey, the stubborn participation gap between girls and boys increases in college students, as does the gap between those with a disability and those without.

The survey revealed:

  • 49% of students are hooked on sport – that’s a percentage point increase on the number of school children hooked (48%)
  • Well over half of boys (59%) are reported to be hooked on sport, compared to 52% at school level
  • The number of girls hooked drops to 40% when compared to girls at school level (44%)
    83% of students would like to do more sport.
  • Almost a third (32%) of college students with a disability or impairment are hooked on sport compared to 51% without – that’s lower than the ‘hooked’ figure for school children with a disability (40%)
  • More than one in five students (23%) volunteer in sport.

While the survey shows 60% are likely to be hooked on sport if their ideas are always listened to, only 10% of those surveyed believed their ideas are considered when planning sport.

The survey also found 43% enjoyed sport a lot at a leisure centre or club, however 32% of those yet to be hooked on sport would like to do more outdoor activity. Taking part with friends was listed as a motivator for being more active, as was getting fit.

Commenting on the figures, Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said: “It’s encouraging to see the numbers of those hooked on sport in further education up there with the growing numbers of those hooked at school level. However, it’s clear that there’s still much to do to ensure we don’t stall the positive momentum achieved at school level. We have long been aware of a drop off in participation following school for girls and these results provide us with further evidence of the work we need to collectively do.

“We need to look at how we can create an experience of sport and physical activity that is enjoyable, builds confidence and engages the student in the delivery of the activity. With 83% of students saying they would like to do more sport we have to look at how we effectively create an attractive offer for all students, not just those already engaged through sport related studies. This highlights how important it will be for colleges to work with community sport providers to create an offer that engages those who have not chosen to study sport.

“With this survey we have now got information that fills the gap between our school and adults surveys and we can better track the route from schools into FE and the community. It also gives a raft of data to be able to plan and provide the sport young people want.”

In addition, over the last year, all colleges in Wales are developing student management teams that engage and give a voice to the wider student population in terms of sporting choices. Two established student management teams that are showing the way are Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Gwent’s Cross Keys Campus, which are helping to get under-represented groups of students more active.

Chair of ColegauCymru, Judith Evans, said: “The results of this survey gives colleges extremely valuable information on the types of activities their students would like to see provided at college.
Colleges are listening, and are keen to respond to their students’ sporting choices. The student management teams being established in colleges will help to make sure that, along with this survey, they know the types of sporting activity their students are interested in.

“The survey has shown that college students are fantastic facilitators of sports in their local communities. The task now is to look inwards - at the colleges’ community of students. We need to deliver new activities that enable students to be more physically active within their college.

“Working in partnership with Sport Wales, college projects now in place are planning to attract 2,000 more girls to participate in sport and physical activity in college in this academic year. I’m confident that, with sustained investment in college sporting opportunities, we can respond to the needs of girls and other under-represented groups that have been identified by the survey."

For a copy of the full report, please visit www.sport.wales.

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16/11/15: Response to Gate Protests

Responding to the gate protests being held this week by UCU at further education colleges, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales’ Chief Executive Iestyn Davies said:

“Colleges have been made aware of UCU’s intention to stage lunch-time protests at college gates. The union is not in dispute with the colleges and has given assurances that there will be no disruption to learning.

“Colleges sympathise with the purpose of the protests, which is to raise awareness of the effects of the severe cuts to further education funding by the Welsh Government.
Funding for learning beyond compulsory education, particularly for adults who wish to – or who can only - learn part time, has been cut over recent years and is approaching crisis point.

“There has been an overall cut of 6% to college funding in 2015/16. More dramatic still is that the budget for part-time adult education in colleges has been cut by 50% in this academic year and comes on top of cuts made in the previous two years.

“Part-time learning is an exceptionally important lifeline to adults who wish to re-enter the workforce or retrain during their working lives. Last year, 60% of all college learners studied part time. Just a few years ago, that figure was 75%.

“New jobs with new skills requirements are being invented all the time. In today’s fast-changing economy, adults need to have an opportunity to get new skills at the right time.

“We hope that the next Assembly budget, which will be published in draft in early December, will look more favourably at the training needs of Wales’ adults. We need politicians to demonstrate that they are planning to give Wales’ economy, communities and individuals every opportunity possible to reach their potential, accepting the difficult financial climate.”

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20/10/15: £1 million opportunity for Wales' apprentices and college learners to work in Europe

At the Assembly's Enterprise & Business Committee meeting on 21 October, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales will call on the Assembly to celebrate the new £1 million opportunity for Wales' apprentices and college learners to be placed in work in countries across Europe.

The body which represents all of Wales' further education colleges and institutions will show how the 1.25 million Euros received by the college sector in 2015 has the potential to launch careers and change lives. It's a 55% increase in project value compared to last year, and, with 11 colleges involved, many more apprentices and vocational learners from across Wales are set to benefit from Europe-wide work placements.

Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: "Colleges are working hard to raise aspirations and broaden horizons. We want to instil an ethos in our learners of limitless boundaries. Opportunities to have work placements in companies in countries across Europe bring huge benefits not only to the ones lucky enough to benefit directly from the experience but also to whole communities of students and the college sector in general."

The 92 learners from all across Wales for whom ColegauCymru will organise work placements will make presentations to their peers as well as college staff and leaders on their return, spreading the benefits of the experience more widely. 270 learners from The College Merthyr Tydfil are being prepared to set off to a new country next year – the third largest project of its kind in the UK.

They will build on work placements already undertaken by learners and apprentices over recent years in a range of vocations including: agriculture, business, catering, childcare, construction, customer service, engineering, graphic design, health & social care, information technology, law, and youth mentoring.

One learner from The College Merthyr College Tydfil, Stephanie Caviel, returned recently from her second stint in Germany. She had made such an impression during her two-week EU-funded work placement in a hairdressing salon in Germany that the company employed her to return to work there last summer, and then offered her a permanent job. Stephanie said of her experience: "Working in a company in Germany was an opportunity second to none. It throws you in the deep end and you really have to work hard to succeed, but it gives you an awful lot of confidence."

Stephanie Hallett was at Coleg y Cymoedd when she got in a plane for the first time. She undertook a work placement in a school in Italy as part of her childcare qualification and on returning to Wales, secured full-time employment as a team leader in a childcare setting. She is also studying for a Foundation Degree in her spare time. She said of her experience: "I'm a different person now. I've got different values and goals that I want to achieve."

Judith Evans concluded: "Deprivation, the lack of family contacts with big business, or a fear of the unknown should not hold back learners' learning journey or stunt their ambitions. Wales' colleges want to show to young people of all backgrounds and work interests that their place in world may be found in their home patch or the next valley or in the nearest city, but may equally well be in France, Germany, Italy or Finland."

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19/10/15: Women Growing Football in Wales' Colleges

Trials for the Welsh Colleges Women's Football Squad took place on Friday 16 October with 180 ambitious players hoping to follow last year's top talents who have since gone on to be selected for the Welsh Senior Football Squad.

Women's football in Welsh colleges is growing at pace, especially following the introduction of fast-paced 7 a-side format. The Welsh Colleges trials, which formed part of the second Welsh Colleges Football Festival, hosted by Merthyr Football Club at the Pen Y Darren Park, grew this year to include 14 teams from colleges across Wales.

The Festival showcased students' leadership and team skills both on and off the field. Organised by Welsh Colleges Sport with the support of The College Merthyr Tydfil, it was sport students from The College Merthyr Tydfil who managed the Festival on the day, overseeing registrations, refereeing and all volunteering roles.

The strong team from Coleg y Cymoedd won the Festival, winning the hard-fought final against The College Merthyr Tydfil on penalties.

Welsh Colleges Sport Coordinator, Rob Baynham, said: "It's really exciting to see a growth in sport among young women and to have such a large number of college teams being fielded for the Festival. It was a showcase, too, of how well young people can organise sporting events and provide sporting opportunities for their peers. Playing, organising, leading, participating and supporting - the Festival had it all."

The best players were selected for the Welsh Colleges Sport national women's team, with further training camps and fixtures through the year. Last year saw several players go on to represent Wales at U17 level and two players, Chloe Lloyd and Ffion Price, have since made it through to the Welsh Senior Squad.

Ffion Price, previously at St David's Catholic College, said: "Playing football for my college and the Welsh Colleges Sport national team were great springboards for me. Last year I was fortunate to be selected for the U17s Wales Women's Football Squad in Lithuania, then for the U19s competing in the UEFA qualifiers in Turkey, and this year I was selected for the senior Wales squad against Croatia. I get such a buzz out of the game, and I couldn't be happier to champion women's football in Wales."

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08/10/15: Colleges have high expectations for new independent regulator

In welcoming Wales' new independent regulator of qualifications at its launch today, 8 October, the national body that represents all colleges in Wales said it had high expectations for the regulator, and in particular looked forward to seeing the regulator raise the status of vocational qualifications.

The new regulator, Qualifications Wales, has been set up as a result of a recommendation of a major report on Wales' qualifications in 2012 that the regulation of qualifications in Wales be the responsibility of an independent body.

The report also recommended that Wales' system align with European countries' in how it recognises vocational qualifications and that vocational qualifications be recognised on a par with equivalent general qualifications.

It has a lot of ground to cover, with immediate changes taking place across GCSEs, A levels, the Welsh Baccalaureate and Essential Skills Wales. At the same time, employers are looking for young people with soft skills and a strong foundation in vocational skills.

Chair of college representative body ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: "Colleges have high expectations for Qualifications Wales. We are looking forward to seeing the new body bring together a stronger and clearer system for qualifications in Wales."

Colleges deliver a particularly wide range of qualifications, from basic skills in literacy and independent living skills right through to professional technical qualifications.

Judith Evans continued: "Colleges need qualifications that are recognised and held in high regard by universities and employers across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

"At the same time, we need a system that is flexible enough to understand the needs of a diverse range of learners. Some learners find their feet quickly and easily in the classroom, others prefer to learn by doing and need more opportunities in the workplace, whilst some need additional support to reach their study goals.

"Vocational qualifications need to adapt continuously in order to respond to innovations and new ways of working. We need more bilingual options and more learning to be available online alongside classroom and practical settings.

"Colleges look forward to playing their part alongside Qualifications Wales in promoting public confidence in qualifications. We wish it well on the start of its journey."

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08/10/15: Strategic collaboration need on bilingual vocational education: the message from the Basque Country

Sgiliaith and ColegauCymru, two national bodies that represent the further education sector in Wales, are calling for strategic cooperation on bilingual vocational education, to include post-16 education providers, employers, and the government.

The call comes on their return from a study visit to the Basque Country as part of a Welsh further education sector delegation.

Bilingual opportunities in Welsh further education colleges are on the increase. The sector is keen to look at good practice from around the world order to identify further potential improvements.

Thank to Sgiliaith's lead, support from ColegauCymru plus European funding, a delegation of ten representing the further education sector and the Welsh Government visited the Basque Country last week (September 28 - October 2) to share good practice on bilingualism in post-16 education and training. They were received by the Basque government and participated in presentations with educational institutions and community organisations.

In a country where there is no national level inspection regime, the responsibility for quality assurance of post-16 education in the Basque Country depends on very close co-operation between colleges and local employers. With a strong steer from local employers and government alike for bilingual and multi-lingual skills, much more bilingual teaching and learning takes place in the Basque country than in Wales.

Director of Sgiliaith, Angharad Roberts, who organised of the visit said: "What was striking to me was the level of pride in bilingualism and multi-lingualism and that having a unique language and culture is seen to provide an added value. The Basque language is seen as a contemporary language, the language of culture and of industry, and as increasing individuals' understanding and access to a global platform in service and manufacturing.

"It was also wonderful to hear the use of the term 'New Basque speakers' rather than 'second language speakers' as used in Wales. Everyone who speaks Basque is bilingual at some level and nobody is considered a 'learner'. We have learned a great deal during the visit and the intention is to carry out a range of activities to share what we have learned over the coming months."

ColegauCymru's Bilingual Director, Claire Roberts, who was part of the delegation said: "The most important message for us from the Basque Country was the high level of collaboration between colleges, employers and the government in normalising bilingualism. There is scope for Wales to work together better in order to improve the investment, planning, delivery and quality assurance of bilingual vocational teaching and learning in the post 16 sector in an efficient manner."

These issues will be discussed further - along with messages from other countries on teaching and learning - at national conferences for the post-16 sector planned by ColegauCymru and Sgiliaith in the spring.

The conferences will look at possible changes to the procedures and structures of post-16 bilingual education and training.

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07/10/15: Colleges urge recommitment to adult skills and lifelong learning

At the Assembly's Enterprise & Business Committee meeting today, 7 October, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales will call on the Assembly to recommit to adult skills and lifelong learning.

The body, which represents all of Wales' further education colleges and institutions, will acknowledge the Government's realistic response to the Committee's report on the employment opportunities for the over 50s, but urge the Assembly to ensure that education does not become the exclusive preserve of the young.

Latest figures show that over 25,000 learners over the age of 50s study at further education colleges. According to Welsh Government figures, across the post-16 skills sector, there are now around 90,000 fewer individuals in learning in Wales than ten years ago. It is in part time learning that the most dramatic fall can be seen, with a drop of 7.2% over the last year alone in further education colleges.

Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: "ColegauCymru understands that the Welsh Government has limited resources at its disposal right now. This has resulted in the Government deciding to prioritise spending on pre-16 education during this Assembly term.

"The Committee's report is most welcome in identifying the needs of over 50s. We acknowledge that the current Welsh Government has taken some positive steps to address those needs.

"However, there is a danger that education may become a once in a lifetime opportunity for young people in the absence of a properly funded infrastructure for adult learning.

"ColegauCymru will continue to press the needs of all learners for the benefit of Wales' economy and wider society."

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19/08/15: Welsh three honoured at WorldSkills Brazil

Three talented Welsh apprentices have returned from the WorldSkills three-day competition final in Brazil with honours after representing Team UK this August.

Elijah Sumner, an automobile technician from Cardiff Bay, Owain Jones, a carpenter from Blaenau Ffestiniog and Eleni Constantinou, a hairdresser from Caerphilly, were each awarded a Medallion for Excellence following five days of intense competition in São Paulo against almost 1,000 of the world's most skilled young people.

All three were recognised for his world-class skills, each scoring more than 500 points to exceed the international standard.

WorldSkills, the world's largest skills competition, is held biennially around the globe to celebrate skills and share best practice between industries and countries. Competitions ranged from web design and aircraft maintenance to hairdressing and visual merchandising.

Elijah, 20, who works for Halfords, competed against 39 automobile technicians. "I felt that being selected for Team UK was an amazing achievement in itself, but I'm really pleased to have come home with a Medallion for Excellence and to be recognised for my skills in this way," he said. "Not a lot of people can put something like this on their CV!"

Self-employed Owain, 21, who was up against 19 carpenters, was trained by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor. "I'm so proud of my performance and the experience of the competition is something I'll never forget," he said.

Eleni, 21, who works for her family run salon Tino Constantinou Hairdressing and who has been supported by Coleg Sir Gâr, competed against 31 hair stylists. We've all learnt so much during the process – knowledge and new skills that we can take with us as we progress in our careers," she said.

Team UK won three gold, four silver and two bronze medals as well as 23 medallions of excellence. The medal haul secured the UK seventh place in the WorldSkills rankings, up from 10th following the last biennial WorldSkills competition, held in Leipzig in 2013.

Wales' Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, said: "What a fantastic achievement! We're so proud of the Welsh competitors. It's clear that a lot of hard work and determination has gone into perfecting their skills and the fact they were able to showcase their ability in such a pressured competition environment confirms their outstanding talent.

"Many of the competitors started learning their trade in colleges across Wales and to be recognised globally as the best in your field shows the calibre of skilled learners, apprentices and training providers we have here our country."

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19/08/15: Impressive A level results at Wales' Colleges

The A level pass rate at a wide range of further education colleges is above the UK average. The pass rate at the top grades also saw some notable increases in many colleges in Wales. Many students from colleges in Wales are now heading for prestigious universities including the Russell Group and Oxbridge.

Those colleges outperforming the UK average pass rate of 98.1% include Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Gower College Swansea, NPTC Group, the College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg Gwent's Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, Coleg Sir Gâr and Pembrokeshire College, with other colleges hitting the 97% Wales pass rate as well.

A number of further education colleges run special programmes for gifted and talented students, for which outstanding results have been achieved. 100 percent of students in the Gifted and Talented programme (GATE) at Neath Port Talbot Sixth Form Academy gained A* to B grades – of which 90 per cent achieved A*-A.

Colleges are major players in academic education provision in Wales. For instance, Coleg Gwent entered 1,000 students for A levels this year, and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai entered 650 students. Gower College Swansea offers around 50 A level options, with 86 students achieving A*-A grades this year at A2. A total of 26 students in Coleg Cambria achieved a set of A*-A grades, whilst at St David's Catholic College, 31% of the results were graded A*-A grades – well above the UK average of 25.9%.

Relative newcomers to A levels have also reported impressive results. The College Merthyr Tydfil, in reporting its first set of A2 results, beat the national average pass rate. The Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone has published its second set of full A level results with over 76% of its students achieving A*-C grades.

Beyond the statistics, there are some incredible individual success stories to be told. In the south west, Shannon Gilbert, a former Australian resident and a student at Coleg Sir Gâr, is going to study Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Churchill College, Cambridge after attaining A*A*A*A.

Ashley Davies-Lyons, who studied at NPTC Group, received A*A*AB in Maths Statistics, Computing, Physics and History, and is now heading to Imperial College London to study Computer Science.

Coleg y Cymoedd student Andrew Williams will be heading to Oxford University to study Physics after achieving three A* and an A in Maths, further Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Mature students also showed their talent in the A level results. Adult learner Andrew Gwynne, who studied at Cardiff and Vale College, is heading to Cambridge University after receiving a superb set of results.

Vocational learners studying extended diplomas – which carry the same UCAS points as A levels – are also confirming their university places today.

ColegauCymru's Interim Chief Executive, Greg Walker said: "Colleges across Wales are right to be proud of these results.

"Colleges are major players in academic provision for 16-18 year olds in Wales, and they have impressive stories of student progression to higher education, including to the most prestigious universities.

"My congratulations go to the students, and to the teachers and the rest of the staff at colleges across Wales who have supported them on their way to success."

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20/07/15: New Executive Chief for Colleges' Representative Body

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales has announced that Iestyn Davies is to become its new Chief Executive later this year, with the task of representing and championing further education to decision-makers and key influencers in Wales.

Currently the Senior Head of External Affairs across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the Federation of Small Businesses, Iestyn has senior management responsibility for the work carried out by the FSB's team across the devolved nations.

He is in addition a member of a range of influential committees including: the Welsh Government's Council for Economic Renewal, the Wales Employer and Skills Board, the EU Funds Programme Monitoring Committee, and the Tackling Poverty Ministerial Advisory Group.

He will work closely with the Chair and Board of Directors of ColegauCymru to ensure that the further education voice is represented strongly at all levels of decision making.

Commenting on Iestyn's appointment, Chair of ColegauCymru, Judith Evans, said: "ColegauCymru is pleased to announce the appointment of Iestyn Davies as Chief Executive. Iestyn has a wealth of experience of working with employers across the UK and understands the positive impact that further education has on the economy of Wales. I am confident that Iestyn will make a valuable contribution to the further education sector."

Speaking about his appointment, Iestyn Davies said: "FE Colleges are uniquely placed across the diverse communities of Wales. Day in and day out they support students of all ages to achieve their individual goals and contribute to the productivity of businesses of all sizes. FE learners provide high quality care to the young as well as to our senior citizens whilst enriching the cultural life of our nation within our creative industries.

"Moving on from the Federation of Small Businesses has been a tough decision but I firmly believe that there has never been a time when the colleges of Wales have been as important as they are now."

In addition to the strategic committees Iestyn Davies contributes to that are relevant to the skills agenda, he has proved his personal commitment to improving quality in education as governor of a primary school and a university, as a member of the Qualifications Wales Advisory Board, and as a former lay inspector for the education inspectorate, Estyn. He has a Masters in Political Communication.

He will take up his appointment in the autumn.

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Welsh Colleges celebrate Ashes coming to Cardiff with new cricket partnership

With the Ashes Test in Cardiff and all eyes on cricket, the launch of a new partnership is set to grow the game among young players in colleges.

Welsh Colleges Sport and Cricket Wales have signed a new partnership to develop cricket in further education colleges in Wales and to celebrate, a Welsh Colleges Xl will play against the touring New South Wales Combined High Schools team as part of their 2015 UK tour.

The new partnership will increase cricket opportunities for young players in college including better links with local clubs, new indoor competitions, and support for coach education from Cricket Wales. College cricketers will also become qualified coaches to help with community projects and increase the workforce.

By providing another level of competition and support for players while in college, the partnership hopes to address the drop off in young players progressing from junior to senior club cricket in Wales.

Chief Executive of Cricket Wales, Peter Hybart, said: "Like many sports, cricket across Wales experiences reduced numbers from the age of 15 upwards.

"Cricket Wales is delighted to be working in partnership with Welsh Colleges Sport to increase the strength of college cricket programmes, offer more competitive opportunities, develop links between colleges and clubs and help in training the next generation of coaches and volunteers. We see the new partnership offering great benefits to both colleges and clubs".

The new partnership will also support representative cricket for College U19 players. Welsh Colleges Cricket fixtures this year have included Wales U17s and the MCC in the build up to the game against New South Wales. This offers another level of competition for elite college players, with Glamorgan and England under 19 Captain, Aneurin Donald, among those to play for the Welsh Colleges team this year.

Sports Coordinator, ColegauCymru, Rob Baynham said: "This new partnership with Cricket Wales will provide college students with new opportunities to play at both a recreational and more elite level. The new indoor league, coach education, club links and the T20 competition will all give college cricket a real boost.

"This year has seen a number of exciting developments for college cricket and the fixture against a strong New South Wales side coinciding with the Ashes Test in Cardiff is the icing on the cake.

"Welsh Colleges Sport is grateful for the support of both Cricket Wales and Gorseinon Cricket Club in enabling this game to be played."

Match details
Welsh Colleges v New South Wales CHS (50 Overs)
At: Gorseinon Cricket Club
On: Sunday 12th July at 11am

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Welsh Four Named in Team UK for WorldSkills Brazil 2015

Four of Wales' most talented apprentices and learners have been given a coveted place in the team which will represent the UK at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 this summer.

WorldSkills is the largest international skills competition in the world. Held every two years, the competition sees around 1,000 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 four Welsh youngsters - hairdresser Eleni Constantinou, 21, from Caerphilly, auto technician Elijah Sumner, 20, from Cardiff Bay, Industrial Control student Luke Elsmore, 20, from Blackwood, and carpentry student Owain Jones, 21, from Blaenau Ffestiniog - have been named among just 41 members of Team UK who will travel to Brazil this summer for the WorldSkills final.

All four were selected following a week of intense competition, after having been shortlisted for Squad UK, following 11 months training in their skill supported by their training provider, college, employer and a dedicated training manager.

Eleni Constantinou, who is competing in Hairdressing, said: "I'm so thrilled to be going to WorldSkills São Paulo in Brazil. No matter how well I do in the competition I think just getting to Brazil will a great experience in itself. That said, I'm really looking forward to it as this is when the competition really starts in my eyes. As much as I want to do well for myself I also want to win for my family, who are all hairdressers themselves and have done a lot to help me get where I am today."

Elijah Sumner, a competitor in the Auto Tech category, said he was thrilled to have been selected:
"It's still pretty surreal. It's hard to believe that I'll be travelling to Brazil to represent the whole of the UK. I really hope this inspires other young people to participate in something like this, as it's a great opportunity and it's been a great experience so far."

Luke Elsmore, who is competing in the Industrial Control category, said: "I'm really looking forward to the competition. It's great to be given the opportunity to prove myself on a world stage. I'm also honoured to be representing Wales and the UK, and that people feel that I'm capable of competing at such a high level."

Owain Jones, the UK's carpentry competitor, said: "I'm really excited and I'm looking forward to going to São Paulo, even though there's going to be a lot of hard work involved. I have to be at the top of my game - I've been competing since the beginning of college to get to this level, and now I'll be competing on a world stage so it's all been leading up to this."

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said: "Huge congratulations to the four finalists. I am thrilled that Welsh competitors are making up ten per cent of Squad UK and that Eleni, Elijah, Luke and Owain will be going to Brazil this summer to represent Wales on a global stage.

"This really is a fantastic achievement. All four have shown that they are exceptionally talented with highly developed skills of which they should be very proud."

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie Jamescongratulated the four competitors on their selection: "By encouraging young people to take part in competitions like WorldSkills and compete against the best, not only in the UK but across the globe, we are able to share best practice in Apprenticeships and vocational teaching, and help to encourage other young people across Wales to aim for these high standards.

"I wish all four the very best for their trip to Brazil and very much hope that they will be bringing medals home for Wales."

Barry Liles, WorldSkills Champion for Wales and Board Member of Find A Future, which manages the UK's entry into the WorldSkills Competition said: "It is with great pride and pleasure that I offer my congratulations to these four young people who have earned a place in Team UK.

"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.

"As we continue with a passion to drive up engagement in vocational skills competitions, we will achieve our goal of raising standards and skill levels, ultimately impacting upon the economy of Wales."

By participating in the WorldSkills Competition, the UK is able to share best practise in Apprenticeships and vocational teaching, driving excellence in workplace skills. Research shows that taking part can excel a young person's career, with past competitors stating that after they have competed they are at least five years ahead of their peers in terms of skills, knowledge and maturity.

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Young UK competition winners from Newport award £3500 to charity

Winners of Lloyds Banking Group's Money for Life Challenge UK Grand Final, DOSH from Wales, have awarded £3,500 prize to The Brightside Trust charity.

The team of eight young people from Newport, all aged 17-23, claimed top honours at the prestigious Money for Life Challenge 2015, organised by Lloyds Banking Group.

Money for Life is a national competition to inspire better money management skills in local communities across the UK. As winners, the team named DOSH (Defining Our Spending Habits) were awarded the prize money from Lloyds Banking Group to donate to a charity of their choice.

DOSH, who are currently enrolled in education programmes with Acorn Learning Solutions, presented The Brightside Trust, an online mentoring charity for young people, with their winning cheque of £3500 on 18th June at Somerton House, Newport.

Susanne Maskrey, Deputy Chief Executive of The Brightside Trust, said: "We are extremely grateful for DOSH's donation to The Brightside Trust. It's great to see young people supporting their peers to develop money management skills. At The Brightside Trust, we want to open up access to education and career opportunities and this donation will help us support more young people in the community".

Amy Louise Follett from DOSH stated, "Our project gave us the confidence to meet new people and develop new skills, whilst learning how to manage our money and make a positive impact in our community. We are thrilled to make more of a contribution with our prize money for such a worthwhile cause."

DOSH ran a money management project in their community earlier in the year to show prospective university students how to manage their money through proper budgeting. DOSH delivered their project over a three month period supported by Money for Life partners CollegesWales and Youth Cymru. More than 340 teams across the UK took part in this year's competition.

David Rowsell, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group said: "The Money for Life Challenge enables young people throughout the UK to learn and share practical money management skills by delivering a project of their choice to benefit their chosen community. I have been consistently impressed by the passion, innovation and dedication of this year's teams, and have been inspired by the support and enthusiasm shown by their communities."

Rachel Dodge, project manager from CollegesWales said, "I'm very proud of team DOSH. They have learnt a lot throughout the Money for Life Challenge and we are pleased they are able to support The Brightside Trust which helps young people access opportunities for a better future".

DOSH, and 50 other teams who were shortlisted to the national finals of the Challenge, now have the chance to bid for one of 10 £1,000 Legacy grants, enabling them to continue the great work they've started in their communities.

The Money for Life Challenge is delivered by Lloyds Banking Group in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, UK Youth, CollegesWales, Youth Cymru, Young Scot and the NOW Group. The Money for Life programme is part of the Group's Helping Britain Prosper Plan, and commits to accrediting 4,000 community support workers by 2017 to deliver financial education on the front line.

For more information on the Money for Life Challenge, please go to www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk or search on Facebook at www.facebook.com/moneyforlifeuk and Twitter at www.twitter.com/moneyforlifeuk.

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Getting Off the Sofa:
Colleges in Wales on a Mission to Find Suitable Physical Activities for Everyone

Not everyone's naturally keen on sport. But most of us could do with being more physically active. Finding suitable physical activities for every college student is a mission of Welsh Colleges Sport, and almost 300 staff and students have just been checking out what's on offer.

Its second annual conference, held at Cardiff Metropolitan University on 12 June, hosted 25 practical sessions in fitness, sports and developing the capacity of student leaders to make a difference.

Opening the event, Jonathan Williams, a Platinum Young Ambassador from Merthyr Tydfil, set the scene by reflecting on his experiences as a young disabled person. His motto: "I can't do everything but I can do sport" became the inspiration for the day, quoted, tweeted and retweeted throughout the day and beyond.

Over 200 further education students, around 50 staff and a wide range of representatives from national governing bodies of sport and partner organisations were tasked with identifying new ways of engaging with each other and with new organisations to develop and deliver physical activities suitable for a new audience.

Activities such as bubble football and cage rugby resulted in lots of fun and laughter. Activities that were super-quick to set up and get active included instant ping pong, Funky Pump, Parkour, Zumba, Ultimate Frisbee, mixed touch rugby, spinning and Pilates. And Inclusive Zone Basketball and sitting volleyball brought wheelchair users and able bodied students together in new ways of engaging and including a wider range of students.

Rob Baynham, Sport Coordinator at ColegauCymru, said: "Welsh Colleges Sport is aiming to ensure that all students have an opportunity to get active at college in a way that they enjoy.

"We are asking colleges to develop new opportunities that are quick, easy to set up and cost effective so that we can get many more students benefiting from physical activity. The offer of physical activity in college should be available to all FE students regardless of gender, social background or physical ability. We're aiming to find something for everyone.

"We have been fortunate in having a great range of partners that helped make the event a success, including many National Governing Bodies of sport, Disability Sport Wales, Streegames Wales, the Urdd, and Young Ambassadors Cymru. We are particularly grateful to Cardiff Metropolitan University for hosting the event and for strong support from the university and Sport Wales."

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Talented carpenter and inspirational nurseries owner win VQ Awards

A carpenter from the WorldSkills Squad UK and the inspirational owner of three children's nurseries were celebrating last night (June 9) after winning the main Vocational Qualifications (VQ) Awards in Wales.

Former Coleg Sir Gâr learner Simon McCall, 21, from Capel Dewi, near Carmarthen, a European silver medallist who had made it through to the WorldSkills Squad UK earlier this year, was named VQ Learner of the Year.

Jenine Gill, who employs 55 staff at Little Inspirations children's nurseries in Llantrisant, Rhydyfelin and Barry, was named VQ Employer of the Year at the awards ceremony held at St David's Hotel, Cardiff.

The VQ Awards, which celebrate the achievements of both learners and employers across Wales, were held on the eve of VQ Day across the UK.

Organised by the Welsh Government's Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales, the awards help to showcase individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James congratulated the inspirational winners and seven runners up.

"In Wales we have a long tradition of developing skills through vocational routes," she said. "We remain committed to helping young people and employers develop the skills necessary to contribute to the growing Welsh economy.

"VQ Day reminds us just how many Welsh employers and learners are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing their skills. Each of those nominated for this year's awards have demonstrated what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

"Vocational qualifications are the gold standard in professional excellence and we must ensure they are recognised alongside academic achievements. The WorldSkills International competition, which takes place in Brazil this August, gives visibility to vocational education and the four Welsh competitors we have in the squad will highlight the importance Wales gives to vocational qualifications on the world stage."

Simon McCall completed a CITB carpentry apprenticeship with Jones and Johnson, Carmarthen, studying at Coleg Sir Gâr. He was encouraged to further hone his skills by competing in regional, national and international competitions, winning a gold medal at the WorldSkills UK regional heat/ Welsh National Final last year and a silver at Euroskills in Lille, France.

Having secured a place in the WorldSkills Squad UK, he became self-employed last October and aims to employ an apprentice in September to pass on his skills and experience.

Two weeks ago, at the final WorldSkills Team UK selections, it was fellow Welshman Owain Jones who secured the only carpentry competition spot for WorldSkills Brazil 2015. Showing a strength the generosity of character, Simon has pledged to do everything he can to support his compatriot in preparations for the international competition.

"It does take a lot of commitment but not many people can say they hold a European medal and were in the Squad UK for the international WorldSkills," he said.

To say Jenine Gill leads by example would be an understatement. The mum of two has completed a Higher Apprenticeship in Childcare and an Institute of Leadership and Management NVQ level 3 in Management.

She founded Little Inspirations in 2003 and for the past eight years has worked with training provider Educ8 Ltd who deliver courses in customer care, child care, essential skills, playwork and management training.

More than 50 staff have been through training which has led to a high level of continuity and very low staff turnover. The apprenticeship programmes are funded by the Welsh Government with European Social Fund support.

"At Little Inspirations staff are encouraged to learn throughout their careers to ensure that our children get the best care and that we perform at the highest level," she said. "All our training is measured and as staff complete programmes we look for them to bring three ideas back into the nursery.

"Our commitment to training helps us retain and value staff who in return are motivated to learn and develop within the business."

Runners up for the VQ Employer of the Year were Deeside-based food manufacturer Dailycer UK whose growth in recent years has coincided with a successful staff training collaboration with Coleg Cambria and professional hair salon Spirit Hair Team from Ystrad Mynach, who say vocational qualifications and continuing professional development are imperative to the thriving business.

VQ Learner of the Year runners up were Casey Coleman, 28, salon artistic director at Ocean Hairdressing, Cardiff whose training provider is Gower College Swansea, James Pepper, 39, technical services director at Vista Retail Support Ltd, Pentwyn, Cardiff and Paul Wiggins, 35, from Cardiff, a chartered insurance broker at BPW Insurance Services, Newport, whose training provider is Acorn Learning Solutions and former Bridgend College learners Michael Whippey, 23, chief instructor at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre, Amersham and Serena Torrance, 23, of Maesteg who is taking a criminology degree at Cardiff University.

To celebrate VQ Day in Wales, the Deputy Minister will be paying a visit to global technology giant Sony's UK Technology Centre (UKTEC) in Pencoed, Bridgend on Wednesday morning. She will tour the plant and hear how the company's support for the training and development of its skilled workforce has created a reputation for manufacturing excellence.

Picture captions
Simon McCall, VQ Learner of the Year.
Jenine Gill of Little Inspirations, VQ Employer of the Year.

Photographs
Photographs from the VQ Awards Ceremony

All VQ Learner of the Year and VQ Employer of the Year winners and finalists.

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A Step Forward in Mainstream the Welsh Language in Colleges

Mainstream the Welsh language in further education colleges is one of ColegauCymru's strategic goals and to this end, two resources were launched at the Eisteddfod with the First Minister Carwyn Jones AM on Tuesday, with the hope of more to come.

Over the past six months, with the support of the Welsh Government of Wales, ColegauCymru has worked with its member colleges to strengthen the Welsh language in the colleges with residential and extracurricular experiences and also to design and deliver a leaflet promoting the practical uses of the Welsh languages to students.

The leaflet, which was launched at the Eisteddfod, encourages those who already speak Welsh to continue to use and develop their communication skills during their time at college and beyond. It identifies opportunities available at college and through partners such as the Urdd, Mentrau Iaith and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, as well as its benefits in the world of work.

In addition, to help staff from different backgrounds to become more familiar with the context of the Welsh language, a suite of videos, Ein Hiaith: Our Language has been adapted for the post-16 education sector, and a specific piece of work has been undertaken to increase the availability of educational resources in the field of social care and childcare.

The second half of the launch at the Eisteddfod focused on the culmination of the work done to benefit the care sector, which is an online directory of resources Welsh medium education. The directory will help teachers, lecturers and learners of childcare and social care in further education colleges as well as the wider education sector and care providers.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones AM said: "I am pleased that we have funded four projects through ColegauCymru to develop Welsh-medium and bilingual education. Ensuring opportunities for young people to continue to study through the medium of Welsh is crucial to our vision. We want to ensure that people have opportunities to use their language in all aspects of their daily lives. We will continue to work with ColegauCymru and the colleges themselves to encourage further growth in Welsh-medium provision for young people in Wales."

Director of Bilingualism at ColegauCymru, Claire Roberts, said: "It was a great honor to have the First Minister with us to launch Welsh-medium educational resources to students and staff in post 16 education, with the aim of normalising the language in our colleges and the vocational world.

"The launch gives us the opportunity to celebrate the recent increase in the availability of bilingual resources in vocational fields and in the work of mainstreaming the Welsh language across the further education colleges.

"We thank the Welsh Government for its support as we develop suitable resources that tackle priority areas, such as childcare and social care, and that build confidence and pride of students and staff in being bilingual.

"We see that a small investment in the further education sector pays handsome dividends. We have already seen a steady increase in Welsh-medium provision in further education colleges over the past few years, particularly after each college was enabled to appoint a bilingual champion.

"We hope that the Government will continue to support us in our efforts to increase the availability of Welsh-medium resources across a range of curriculum areas, and expand the opportunities available to everyone in our colleges to use their Welsh in the interests of the wider society and the Wales' bilingual workplace."

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Top performing colleges, teachers and learners awarded

At a glittering ceremony at Venue Cymru, Llandudno on 21 May, outstanding college learners and teachers were recognised, and six colleges were awarded for driving improvements that benefit learners.

ColegauCymru's Annual Awards demonstrate sector-leading practice within further education by learners, teachers and colleges and the quality of submissions for the ColegauCymru Awards 2015 was again notably high.

Dr Greg Walker, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "With the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James AM delivering a speech to the ColegauCymru annual conference earlier the same day, praising colleges' 'proven willingness to respond to change' in very difficult economic times, 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 Cambria
  • Use of Technology: Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Innovation in Further Education: Bridgend College and Coleg Cambria
  • Building International Partnerships: Coleg Gwent
  • Promoting Equality and Social Inclusion: Pembrokeshire College
  • Outstainding Sport Development: The College Merthyr Tydfil
  • Promoting Welsh and Bilingual Learning: Coleg Sir Gâr

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 Greg Walker 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 Mary Richards of Coleg Sir Gâr who was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award, alongisde finalists Lesley Anne Bennett of Bridgend College and William Bateman of Pembrokeshire College.

"Outstanding learners are of course the success story of colleges. Congratulations particularly to Caroline Read from Cardiff and Vale College in winning the Learner of the Year Award against the very strong shortlist made up of Luke Prideaux-Byrd of Gower College Swansea and Emma Beacham of Coleg y Cymoedd.

Dr Walker continued: "The ColegauCymru Awards 2015 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 British Council, City & Guilds, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Learndirect, Lloyds Banking Group, Pearson, Sport Walkes and the Welsh Government."

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Colleges Seek Creative Solutions in Hard Times

Times are hard and colleges are looking for creative solutions in order to continue to help companies and individuals to move forward with new skills and ideas when there's less money to go around. That is the key focus of the ColegauCymru annual conference, which opens on 21 May in Llandudno.

From developing a workforce fit to take on large infrastructure projects, lead research and development, and launch entrepreneurial businesses and ideas, colleges are key players in a thriving economy. But public investment is tight and getting even tighter when it comes to training and retraining the adult population. The conference will bring colleges together with employer representative bodies and a major energy developer to find creative solutions together.

The conference will also look at best practice in developing learners' leadership, vocational and academic skills, an efficiently delivered curriculum that makes creative use of technology, and the development of new Wales-specific qualifications.

In the search for creative solutions, Wales' colleges draw inspiration from leaders around the world. The conference will further deepen links between Wales' colleges and Canada, with a conference address by a director of a Canadian community college, thanks to the support of the British Council.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Greg Walker, said: "For a society that values both economic prosperity and social justice, further education is key. The mission is as valid now as it was when colleges were formed. What has changed is how colleges can meet the needs of our economy and society.

"As the economy recovers we face the challenge of helping to address growing skills shortages in key sectors. At the same time, there are a number of landmark developments that will require a step change in the availability of a more highly skilled workforce. I am delighted that the conference will bring colleges together with the Federation of Small Businesses, the UKCES and the major new industry, Tidal Lagoon Power.

"Colleges in Wales are always looking for creative solutions to all kinds of challenges. This year for the first time, we've gone further than ever to source some new thinking – to Canada. I would like to thank the British Council for supporting a major collaborative delegation from Wales' colleges to Canada at the end of last year and for supporting the conference in bringing a director of Fanshawe College to Wales to address college leaders."

Finally, the evening will shine a spotlight on the top quality practices that are already finding 'Creative Solutions'. The Annual Awards Ceremony will award the best of the best, including an award for Teacher of the Year and Learner of the Year.

Dr Greg Walker concluded: "The conference and the awards ceremony have secured sponsorship from a number of influential bodies, demonstrating its high regard within the education and training sector. My thanks go to the Welsh Government, Tribal Education, Pearson, Blake Morgan, Learndirect, Jisc, WPM, City and Guilds, Capital Law, Sport Wales, y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Lloyds Banking Group, British Council, and the SQA.

"A thought-provoking, challenging, and forward-looking conference it will definitely be."

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Nine finalists shortlisted for this year's VQ Awards in Wales

Nine finalists have been shortlisted for this year's Vocational Qualification (VQ) awards, which celebrate the achievements of both learners and employers across Wales.

A panel of judges selected six finalists for the VQ Learner of the Year and three for the VQ Employer of the Year, after considering a large number of entries received from across Wales.
The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony to be held at St David's Hotel, Cardiff on June 9, the eve of VQ Day.

Organised by the Welsh Government's Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales, the VQ Awards help to showcase individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.

The awards, which are part funded by the European Social Fund, are now in their eighth year and coincide with Vocational Qualifications Day – a UK-wide celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers, training providers and employers – which is held on June 10.

The VQ Employer of the Year finalists are: food manufacturer Dailycer UK from Deeside, children's nursery Little Inspirations from Llantrisant, and hairdressers and barbers Spirit Hair Team from Ystrad Mynach.

Competing for the VQ Learner of the Year award are: Casey Coleman, 28, salon artistic director at Ocean Hairdressing, Cardiff; James Pepper, 39, technical services director at Vista Retail Support Ltd, Pentwyn, Cardiff; former Bridgend College learner Michael Whippey, 23, a chief instructor at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre, Amersham; Paul Wiggins, 35, from Cardiff, a chartered insurance broker at BPW Insurance Services, Newport; former Bridgend College learner Serena Torrance, 23, of Maesteg who is taking a criminology degree at Cardiff University and former Coleg Sir Gâr learner Simon McCall, 21, from Capel Dewi, a self-employed carpenter and member of the WorldSkills UK Squad.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James congratulated the nine inspirational finalists and also praised all the employers and learners who had entered the VQ Awards this year.

"A VQ Award is more than just an award; it's a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession," she said. "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.

"The VQ Awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers and learners who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.

"If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class work force."

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

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Steep cuts to adult skills will affect Wales' economy

Colleges across Wales are concerned that the serious drop in the numbers of adults in learning will affect Wales' health and wealth in the years to come.

There are now around 90,000 fewer adults in part-time learning than there were ten years ago in Wales' colleges, with the number set to further reduce following a dramatic decrease in funding in the coming year.

The budget for part-time adult education in colleges is set to be cut by 50% for the 2015/16. Given that, between 2004/05 and 2013/14, part-time adult learners reduced by a massive 46%, the long term impact of even bigger cuts on the health of individuals and the economy of the nation is unavoidable.

Adults over the age of 25, and women in particular, have suffered the biggest impacts of the ongoing funding constraints in education. Women make up 63% of the part-time learner population over the age of 25 in Wales' colleges.

Younger learners will also be affected by funding cuts, although to a lesser extent. The funding for 16-19 year olds is largely protected, but the overall cut of 6% to college funding in 2015/16 means that no single age cohort is completely immune from the cuts.

College funding has remained tight over the last few years. Colleges have largely absorbed increased costs including unfunded pay increases, increases in pension costs and national insurance and the administration costs of Educational Maintenance Allowances and Assembly Learning Grants.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Greg Walker, said: "Further education colleges have managed with reduced budgets for the last few years. The newest round of cuts, for the year 2015/16, makes the situation still worse. With a 50% reduction in funding for part-time adult learning, Wales will have to brace itself for a workforce that has lower skills. Lower skills reap lower wages and affects health and wellbeing. All factors combined, there will be a negative impact on the nation's economy.

"The cuts are already biting hard. Hundreds of Wales' highly skilled college lecturers will have to be let go. These are the very people we need to help build up the skills of the nation.

"We acknowledge that the Welsh Government has had its own overall budget significantly reduced in recent years.

"Colleges are working together to mitigate the effects of the cuts, and they are committed to work with the Welsh Government, too. But make no mistake, these cuts are deep. Wales will feel their effects for a long time to come."

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Winners announced at Wales National Final of Money for Life Challenge

2 teams from Wales now qualify for the UK Grand Final of the Money for Life Challenge, a money management competition run by Lloyds Banking Group with ColegauCymru and Youth Cymru

Two teams of young people are celebrating today having been named winners at the Wales National Final of Lloyds Banking Group's Money for Life Challenge, a UK-wide competition to inspire better money management skills in communities across the UK.

11 teams of young people from across Wales took part in the Final, held at the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff on Tuesday 28th April 2015, where they presented their projects to a panel of esteemed judges and guests.

DOSH, the Wales National Winners from Acorn Learning Solutions in Newport, will now present their money management project to a panel of high-profile judges at the UK Grand Final, while People's Prize Winners, Gym Value for Money from Coleg Gwent Crosskeys campus, will showcase their project at the event which will be held at the London Film Museum on 28th May. Both groups will compete against projects from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the UK Grand Final.

The teams undertook their projects over a three month period having been awarded a £500 grant from Money for Life to put their ideas into action.

DOSH (Defining Our Spending Habits), Acorn Learning Solutions
Wales National Final Winner

DOSH aimed their project towards students aged 16-18 who are considering higher education. The group gave a talk on money management at a local sixth form and then hosted an event with guest speakers from different organisations sharing their insights on the importance of money management. They also provided students with a 'starter pack' which included budgeting tips and advice which is available on the team's website.

Gym Value for Money, Coleg Gwent Crosskeys Campus
Wales People's Prize Winner

Gym Value for Money are a team made up of trainee gym instructors who noticed that they could help their peers save money while also staying healthy. They particularly worked with Independent Living Skills students with physical or learning difficulties to show them that they could save hundreds of pounds by using the college gym instead of a local private alternative.

Judge's Prize

Radiate Families Project from Charter Housing in Newport were also awarded the Judges' Prize for working with local tenants to ensure that they were saving money by being energy efficient. By doing so, they also trained their members in fitting reflective panels in people's homes which has resulted in a member of their team going into full time employment as a result of the project.

Claire Howells, DOSH project sponsor from Acorn Learning Solutions, said: "We are so excited to have won the Money for Life Challenge Wales National Final today. I think its testament to all the hard work and passion of our incredible team who have learned so much from this Challenge. We can't wait to represent Wales at the Grand Final."

Josh Corbett, a team member of Gym Value for Money, said: "We are really pleased to be here today and the whole team are incredibly proud to have won the Money for Life Challenge People's Prize. The Money for Life Challenge has given us the opportunity to do what we love while helping our peers and learning about money management." The People's Prize was voted for by the attendees at the Wales National Final.

Kerry Duke, Radiate Families Project sponsor from Charter Housing, said: "To even be here at the Money for Life Challenge is so exciting for the team but to win the Judges' Prize is particularly pleasing. It's hard to put into words how much this group, as well as the community we work in, has gained from this entire experience."
David Rowsell, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group said: "Now in its fourth year, the Money for Life Challenge continues to help young people create a money management project to benefit their local community and enables them to develop the skills they need to manage their own money too."

"This year's Challenge has seen teams demonstrate a high standard of innovation and commitment and the judges were hugely impressed by our national finalists. We are thrilled to see that many of them have already had a positive and measurable impact in their communities."

Money for Life is one of the core programmes at the heart of Lloyds Banking Group's aim to help Britain prosper. The Money for Life Challenge in Wales is run in partnership with CollegesWales and Youth Cymru.

Rachel Dodge at CollegesWales said: "All of this year's national finalists have delivered projects across Wales that tackle real financial issues in their local communities. They have raised financial awareness amongst key audiences whilst learning money management skills themselves. They should be very proud of their efforts and the impact they've had."

For more information on the Money for Life Challenge, please go to www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/moneyforlifeuk and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/moneyforlifeuk.

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Eleven teams of young people from Wales selected as National Finalists of UK-wide money management competition

Teams reach National Final of the Money for Life Challenge, a money management competition run by Lloyds Banking Group, with CollegesWales and Youth Cymru.

Eleven teams of young people from Wales are celebrating today after reaching the Wales National Final of Lloyds Banking Group's Money for Life Challenge, a national competition to inspire better money management skills in local communities across the UK supported by CollegesWales and Youth Cymru.

The teams have been selected from 80 entries from across Wales to reach the final of the Money for Life Challenge at the Doctor Who Experience at Porth Teigr, Cardiff on 28 April 2015.

Five of the teams will present their money management projects to a panel of high-profile judges, hoping to be crowned the Money for Life Challenge: Wales Winner 2015.

The five teams are:

D.O.S.H – (Defining Our Spending Habits)
Acorn Learning Solutions

Team addressed issues experienced by students going on to attend university, and supplied knowledge to offer new students moving from further to higher education information to build the foundation to make informed decisions on their spending habits.

Be In Th' Know With Ya Dough
Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone

Project addressed the need for young people in Blaenau Gwent to save money. Team highlighted saving money is particularly important where young people have to live on a very low income. They looked into this by teaching money saving tips to help their peers and also persuaded several local businesses to offer discounts, special offers or freebies to local youngsters.

Radiate – Families Project
Charter Housing, Newport

Team worked to design and build a mobile app themed around energy efficiency to help young families see how they can save money by adopting more energy efficient lifestyle habits. The team conducted four face to face sessions with an app developer to bring their ideas to life and worked with local families to measure its impact.

C-Bank
Bridgend College

C-Bank looked at how to help young people in Bridgend save money by encouraging them to shop in local charity shops. The team worked with the Tenovus Cancer Care charity in Bridgend to conduct a donation drive to inspire more young people to donate to charity shops and conducted promotions in the local area to encourage more teenagers and young adults to shop in them.

Gym Value for Money
Coleg Gwent, Crosskeys

Project looked into the cost of using gyms and sought to compare the price of college gyms to private and local authority alternatives. They produced leaflets and posters, which were handed out across the college campus and used email and intranet to promote information on the differences in cost. The team aimed to both promote ways to save money and the importance of keeping fit.

Alongside the five teams that will present their projects on stage, six further teams will be in the running for the People's Prize, which is voted for by attendees at the National Final. They are:

  • Beauty Therapy Community from Coleg Gwent
  • Upcycling Splott from Global Love Trust
  • Sassy Savings from Youth Cymru
  • Saving before Leaving from NPTC Group
  • Young Carers from YMCA
  • Young Pension Payers from ISA Training

The groups undertook their projects over a three month period having been awarded a £500 grant from Money for Life to put their ideas into action.

The winner of the Wales national final will win £1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

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 have taken part in the Money for Life Challenge this year. We are pleased to announce the eleven national finalists who will be at this year's Wales National Final. Each team has devised a truly innovative project to help their community. I wish them the very best of luck."

David Rowsell, Head of the Money for Life Programme at Lloyds Banking Group said: "The Money for Life Challenge helps young people create a money management project to benefit their local community and enables them to develop the skills they need to manage their own money more effectively too. Money for Life is one of the core programmes at the heart of Lloyds Banking Group's aim to help Britain prosper.

"I have been hugely impressed by the innovation and enthusiasm of all the teams who have taken part in the Challenge this year. It has been a tricky decision for our judges to decide which groups will make it to our national finals. I wish all teams the very best of luck."

The winner of the Wales final will head to the Money for Life Challenge UK Grand Final at the London Film Museum in London's Covent Garden on 28 May, where they'll compete against teams from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland to claim the title of UK Winners of the Money for Life Challenge 2015. The teams have the chance to win £3,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

For more information on the Money for Life Challenge, please go to www.moneyforlifechallenge.org.uk, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/moneyforlifeuk and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/moneyforlifeuk.

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Launch of a Bilingual Design Guide

The Welsh Language Commissioner has published a Bilingual Design Guide. The guide aims to share best practice in bilingual design.

The guide was launched at the College Merthyr Tydfil by the Welsh Language Commissioner and representatives from Colleges Wales and the College Merthyr Tydfil.

Launching the guide, the Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said:

"There are good and bad examples of bilingual design all around us, from road signs and supermarket signs to advertisements on the side of buses, from the packaging of goods to information leaflets.

"In my work of promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language in all aspects of public life in Wales, one issue I hear time and time again is the need for advice on how to go about designing bilingual materials creatively, consistently, and accurately and at a reasonable cost.

"The guide aims to share the best possible practice in bilingual design. It is aimed at any organisation, even if there is no statutory requirement on them to operate in Welsh and English.

"By launching the guide in a further education college, I hope to ensure that future designers have the understanding and skills required to undertake bilingual design work in a bilingual country."

Claire Roberts, Bilingual Director at ColegauCymru, said:

"The publication of this guide fits well with the work we have underway with further education colleges and other organisations.

"With bilingual opportunities growing every year in the colleges, I anticipate that students studying a range of subjects such as business, customer care, marketing and design will benefit from this guide during their time in college and beyond, as they move into the world of work.

"In addition, by happy coincidence, the Urdd Eisteddfod has this year introduced a brand new competition on bilingual design, in co-operation with ColegauCymru. I'm sure that all of the competitors are eager to get hold of the guide and that the quality of the competition will benefit from it!"

John O'Shea, Principal of the College Merthyr Tydfil said:

"It's a pleasure to welcome the Commissioner to the college and to be among the first to see this new guide.

"Good bilingual design is important to us all, whether Welsh or English is our chosen language. In order to convey a clear message, we must have purposeful designing which presents both languages effectively.

"This bilingual design guide will support the college in the work of preparing students to work in a bilingual country, within and outside Wales.

"It will also be of use to us as a body which provides bilingual materials for our audiences including our students, communities and local businesses."

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Vocational Training Top of the Agenda for Welsh Government as the VQ Awards Open for Entry

Today (Wednesday 28 January) marks the official launch of the annual Vocational Qualification (VQ) awards, designed to celebrate the achievements of both individuals and organisations across Wales.

Organised by the Welsh Government's Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NtfW) and CollegesWales and part funded by the European Social Fund, the VQ awards help to identify and exemplify individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.

Last year's VQ Learner of the Year winner, Emma Thomas, 28, who runs her own bilingual nursery in Carmarthenshire said: "I don't believe I'd be running my own business today without having worked hard to continually improve my vocational skills and acquire regular qualifications. And now I want to be a role model for my staff.

"I'm extremely passionate about providing only the highest standard of childcare for my families, while growing and developing my business", she said.

"In order to achieve this, I'm committed to nurturing my staff and encouraging them to undertake continual vocational training to improve their skills and fulfil their own potential.

"Winning the VQ Learner of the Year award last week was an incredible honour and was testament to all the hard work I have put into my own development and that of my business over the years."

The awards, now in their 8th consecutive year coincide with Vocational Qualifications Day – a UK-wide celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers and employers, being held on 10th June this year.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James said, "A VQ award is more than just an award; it's a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession

"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 and the VQ awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers and learners who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications."

"In order for the Welsh economy to grow we must ensure that employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class work force."

There are two categories in the awards; the VQ Learner of the Year and the VQ Employer of the Year. Entries for the awards will be open from Wednesday 28 January and will close on 1 May. The finalists will then be shortlisted and announced in early May. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on the evening of 9th June – the day before VQ Day on Wednesday 10 June.

For more information on the awards or to enter please visit http://www.vqday.org.uk/vq-awards and download an application form.

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Welsh Colleges Football record historic double over Australian Schools

When did Wales last beat Australia in two sporting fixtures on the same day?

Friday 23 January 2015: the day both men's and women's Welsh Colleges Football teams defeated the junior Soceroos.

Representing Welsh Colleges at U19 level, both teams exceeded expectations, beating the strong Aussie Schools touring teams on their three-week tour of Britain and Ireland.

The men's game at Cardiff Metropolitan University FC saw the Welsh side fight back from a disastrous start, having conceded two goals early in the first half, to eventually run out 4-2 winners against an Aussie squad that had previously defeated Welsh Schools and Cardiff City age group teams earlier on their trip.

Manager of the Welsh Colleges men's team, Marc Lloyd Williams, said: "What a game and what a performance from the Welsh lads. They showed true grit and determination to get back into the game and took on board the tactical changes we made at half-time. They never gave up, which shows the strength and character of these youngsters.

"Credit also goes to Australia. They were a strong, athletic and physical side and played their part in a tremendous game of football. They made us work for everything; a goal either side of the half-time changed the complexity of the match and we then had the belief we would go on and win the game."

Not to be outdone, the women's side also battled hard to defeat their Aussie counterparts at USW Sports Park.

Manager of the Welsh Colleges women's team, Andrew Stokes, said: "In a tight encounter, a fantastic team performance saw the women achieve a brilliant result against a strong Australian side. What decided the really close game was the goal 20 minutes from time. This was the first ever win for a Welsh Colleges Sport women's team against Australian schools and highlights the progression and development of women's football in colleges. As a coaching team, we are delighted by the team's performance and this monumental result."

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New University-College Partnership Strengthens Elite College Football in Wales

A new partnership between Cardiff Metropolitan University and Welsh Colleges Football to strengthen elite college football will be on show this Friday, when the national football team takes on Australian schools.

The university is providing its facilities and a wide range of technical support for the Welsh Colleges Sport national football team, which is giving the players a more professional experience.

This Friday, 23 January 2015, sees Welsh Colleges Football take on the touring Australian schools team at Cardiff Metropolitan University's outstanding football facilities as part of this partnership. Kickoff is at 2pm.

Marc Lloyd Williams, Welsh Colleges Sport's Football Director, said: "The new partnership with Cardiff Met is providing the players and coaches with a training environment better than many professional football clubs. Players are receiving sport science and specialist coaching support from the staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University, including the latest in performance analysis and strength and conditioning techniques. The training environment provided by the university will certainly benefit players and Welsh Colleges Sport football, producing fitter, more technically skilled players."

Dave Cobner, Director of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University said: "As a university we are very pleased to support football in the tertiary sector. The players gain a valuable insight into life on campus and get exposure to training and playing in a high performance environment. We wish the players and coaching team every success in their 2015 campaign."

Rob Baynham, Welsh Colleges Sport's Coordinator, said: "The support form Cardiff Metropolitan University for our men's football team has been a revelation. In preparation for the Australian schools game, players and staff have been able to experience a new level of professionalism through the coaching sessions provided by the university. This experience, along with the outstanding playing facilities provided by the university, will give the players great confidence going into the game with Australia".

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New audience to compete in the Eisteddfod

The Urdd Eisteddfod has published a new list of contemporary vocational competitions that will attract a new audience to compete, following collaboration with ColegauCymru.

As part of efforts to ensure that the Welsh language can thrive and is relevant to the lives of young people from all backgrounds and career paths, the Eisteddfod offers the opportunity to compete and display a wider range of talents and skills.

Six new competitions for individuals under the age of 25 are being introduced to the Urdd Eisteddfod Caerphilly and District 2015, namely:

  • Construction
  • Design
  • Fashion
  • Childcare
  • Cookery
  • Hair and Beauty

Claire Roberts, Director of Bilingualism at ColegauCymru, said: "Welsh medium and bilingual education have seen steady increases in the further education colleges in recent years. But in order to raise confidence and nurture a sense of ownership and relevance it is important to reinforce the learning outside the classroom or workplace. I'm delighted that the Urdd has been so willing to work with ColegauCymru to offer a new opportunity for those young people who have vocational skills to be able to compete in the Eisteddfod and to become part of the Eisteddfod life.

Aled Sion, Director of the Urdd Eisteddfod, said: "These competitions have been added to the usual range following a consultation by an independent working group of the Eisteddfod. We were keen to expand the range of competitions offered, and by working with ColegauCymru, we hope to strengthen our contact with young people from all backgrounds, offering the expertise of 15 further education colleges and institutions to Urdd members. We are confident that there will be considerable interest in these competitions."

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e within the appropriate age on 31 August 2015.