Venue Cymru, Llandudno: location of ColegauCymru's Annual Conference 2015, 'Creative Solutions in Hard Times'

ColegauCymru Annual Conference

As we are in a process of restructuring, we are not organising an annual conference in 2016. We shall publish here information on the way forward once it is agreed.

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2015

Creative Solutions in Hard Times:

Thursday 21 May 2015 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno

This year's conference focused on finding creative solutions in a difficult financial climate. New strategic business developments, potential partnerships, award winners, labour market intelligence, and an international perspective were a few of the highlights.


Delegates heard of teaching and learning improvements from a community college in Canada in the morning, before turning to the world of business in the afternoon.

  1. Tracy Gedies, Fanshaw College, Canada - presentation slides

In addition, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Education and Skills, Julie James AM, explored the changing policy context.

  1. Address by Deputy Minister Julie James AM


There was an opportunity to explore creative solutions and discuss good practice in the eight workshops that straddled the middle of the day, each led by senior representatives from key stakeholders and colleges in Wales and beyond, with a number of case study sessions presented by organisations that have won prestigious awards.

1a Employer perspectives

  1. 1a: Employer Perspectives / Safbwyntiau Cyflogwyr
  2. 1a: UKCES Employer perspectives / Safbwyntiau cyflogwyr

1b Cross-college blended learning

  1. 1b: Cross-college blended learning / Model cwricwlwm cyfunol traws golegol

1c Mental Health and fitness to study

  1. 1c: Fitness to study / Ffitrwydd i astudio
  2. 1c: Mental Health / Iechyd Meddwl

1d Meeting the needs of more able and talented learners

  1. 1d: More Able and Talented Learners / Dysgwyr Mwy Galluog a Thalentog

2a Support with Welsh

2b Developing learners' skills: lessons from Canada

  1. 2b: Lessons from Canada / Gwersi o Canada

2c Students as leaders

  1. 2c: Students as LEaders / Myfyrwyr yn Arwain

2d Managing Transition: implementing change

  1. 2d: Implementing Change / Rhoi Newidiadau ar Waith


We are particularly grateful to the conference sponsors for their support. They are:

Welsh Government, Capital Law, Learndirect, Tribal, SQA, British Council, and WPM Education.


In addition, there was a good complement of organisations who demonstrated their goods and services in the exhibition hall this year, including a number who were new to our conference.

They were: ABC Awards, British Council, Capital Law, Jisc, Learndirect, Lloyds Banking Group / Money for Life, OCR Cymru, Sport Wales, Tribal, Welsh Government and WPM.

Key Links

  1. Conference Programme
  2. Annual Conference 2015: synopsis of each workshop

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2014

Skills for a Global Economy

Tuesday 13 May 2014 at City Hall, Cardiff

For the second year running, ColegauCymru's annual conference was held in the magnificent halls of City Hall, Cardiff.

The conference had a strong line-up of key speakers from both the public and private sectors, and the workshops considered developments and best practice in Wales and further afield.


The conference pack includes the programme for the day, biographies of all presenters, and information on each workshop:

Cynhadledd Flynyddol - Annual Conference 2014 - Pecyn y Gynhadledd - Conference Pack

Key Speakers

Please find below the links to the powerpoint presentations used by the presenters:


Workshops 1 took place in the morning:

a The International Outlook for Colleges

b Making Strides in Sport

c Effective Models of Governance

d Preparing for the New Welsh Baccalaureate

Workshops 2 took place in the afternoon:

a 10 Things You Wish You Knew About Mergers - this workshop is for college governors and managers only

b Lessons from LAPs

c Going beyond Ethos: Next Steps in Bilingualism

Next Steps in Bilingualism - Arad Consulting

d New FE Inspection Arrangements

A pre-dinner reception was held at 6.20pm, kindly sponsored by Odgers Berndtson.

ColegauCymru Awards

Please see the annual awards page for details of the awards and those shortlisted.


ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2013

Colleges Delivering for Wales

ColegauCymru's annual conference: Delivering for Wales, took place on Wednesday 22 May 2013 at City Hall, Cardiff.

Key Speakers


  • Programme-based funding
  • Learners as partners
  • Sport Strategy: 'Going for Gold'
  • Qualifications reform: impact on colleges
  • Strengthening higher vocational education
  • Entrepreneurship and employability
  • Enhancing digital learning
  • Good governance


A pre-dinner reception was kindly sponsored by Wesleyan Financial Services.

ColegauCymru Awards 2013

Click for details of the annual awards.

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2012

Raising the Bar

Key Speakers

  • Jeff Cuthbert, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills (powerpoint not used)
  • Mario Kreft MBE, Director Pendine Park Care Organisation Mario Kreft
  • Professor Laura McAllister, Chair Sport Wales (powerpoint not used)
  • John Hughes, Vice Chancellor Bangor University (powerpoint not used
  • John Graystone's presentation


'Raising the Bar': workshops

Links to the presentations delivered at the workshops - where available - are provided below.

Workshop 1a: Planning, Funding Learning Area Programmes (LAPs)
The workshop provided participants with an up-date on progress in the Review of Funding being undertaken by DfES and the associated development of Learning Area Programmes (LAPs) by ColegauCymru. Workshop members were given ample opportunity to discuss current developments and to contribute both to the Funding Review and on progress towards self-regulation of the FE curriculum proposed in the development of LAPs.
Chair: Dafydd Evans, Principal of Coleg Menai.
Contributors: Planning & Funding: Bethan Webb and Geoff Hicks, DfES; LAPs: Adrian Sheehan and Katy Burns, ColegauCymru.

Workshop 1b: Teaching and Learning
The workshop aimed to identify what strategic changes colleges need to make to achieve excellence in teaching and learning. Delegates considered strategies for improvement from the perspectives of teachers, learners and observers. Coleg Gwent provided a case study on its teaching and learning development programme.
Chair: Ian Dickson, Chair of the Senior Curriculum Managers' Network.

Workshop 1c: Sport – the Olympic legacy
How can we raise the profile of sport within colleges in this Olympic Year? The importance of 'sports literacy'. The contribution of sport to well being, health, confidence and learning. How can we raise the profile of sport in colleges to sports bodies and Sport Wales?
This workshop was chaired by Simon Pirotte, principal of Coleg Powys and member of Sport Wales. John Hole, chief executive, British Colleges Sport, joined Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales, in a lively discussion about how to build on the Olympic legacy in Wales.

Workshop 1d: Employer Engagement
How can colleges most effectively engage with employers in delivering skills for their workforce and in developing learning programmes that deliver employability for their students? The purpose of the workshop was to explore ways in which closer partnerships between colleges and employers can engineer the right combination of knowledge and skills for learners, be they primarily work based, college based or distance learners. How to work through the diverse and changing needs of employers, be they small or large, public or private, were key aims of the workshop.
Chair: Barry Liles, principal, Coleg Sir Gâr
Contributors: Martin Hotass, UK Skills Partner at Siemens Plc.

Workshop 2a: FE-HE Progression
Colleges have made notable strides in recent years in ensuring significantly greater levels of progression from their level 3 learning cohort into higher education - both within their institution and to universities. Against this background the workshop aimed to explore the ways in which colleges can both expand their own provision of HE to smooth progression routes for learners or enhance partnership working with employers and/or universities to ensure that access to higher learning is widened further, in line with the Welsh Government's Programme for Government.
Chair: Glyn Jones, Chief Executive, Gr┼Áp Llandrillo Menai
Contributors: Steve Outram, Senior Adviser at the Higher Education Academy, and Gavin Thomas, ColegauCymru.

Workshop 2b: International Opportunities
This workshop explained how to raise the aspirations of learners and staff through participating in European funded projects. A particular focus of the workshop was the European Commission's Leonardo da Vinci programme which promotes work placements in Europe for learners in vocational education and training.
Neath Port Talbot College presented a case study on its involvement in ColegauCymru's 2011/12 Leonardo da Vinci initiative by examining the project's impact on learner motivation, staff development, European partnerships and employer engagement.
Ciara Brennan from CiLT Cymru, the national centre for languages in Wales, explained how to motivate learners through integrating purposeful, accredited language learning into a Leonardo mobility project.
Finally, there was a round-up of other international activities that have taken place this year and time for questions and discussion based on the content of the workshop.
Chair: Bryn Davies, principal of Ystrad Mynach College and Chair of the Wales-China FE Consortium.
Contributors: Michael Rees, Head of Engineering at NPTC, and Ciara Brennan Cilt Cymru.

Workshop 2c: Managing Essential Skills
Extensive stakeholder engagement has been conducted as a part of the Review of Qualifications, which will inform ways forward for Essential Skills in Wales. This workshop provided an opportunity to discuss what we have found out and what we are planning to do, to help you to meet the needs of learners and staff in your organisations.
Chair: Trefor Fon Owen, principal of Coleg Harlech WEA (N)
Contributors: Hazel Israel and Mike Hatcher, DfES

Workshop 2d: Funding: Who should pay for what?
The workshop provided an opportunity to consider the future direction of funding approaches in Wales under the banner of who should pay for what? Constraints on public expenditure for the foreseeable future will necessitate a review of the extent to which post-16 education and training should be funded by government, employers and individuals.
Chair: Mark Isherwood, YMCA Community College
Contributors: Bethan Webb, Lucy Evans and Jo Banks, DfES.

ColegauCymru Awards 2012

Click for details of the annual awards.

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2011

Future Excellence

"Future Excellence", the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual conference 2011, was held on 26 May at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.

The conference heard from a strong line-up of key speakers:

  • Huw Jones, deputy chair of the Wales Employment and Skills Board (WESB)
  • Marion Plant OBE, principal, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College
  • John Graystone, chief exeuctive, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales
  • Andrew Goodall, chief executive, Aneurin Bevan NHS Board
  • the Welsh Assembly Government's Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning

Presentations from the workshops are available below:

Workshop Title Presentations
Leading a Merged College 1. Leading a Merged College (Ian Dickson)
International and European Partnerships 1. Professional Development and International Opportunities (British Council)
2. European Lifelong Learning Programmes (Ecorys)
3. International and European Partnerships (Sian Holleran)
4. Wales and China Skills Exchange (Hayley Wilce)
Collaborations 14-19, Work Based Learning, Adult & Community Learning 1. Collaboration: Introduction (Maggi Dawson MBE)
2. Collaboration 14-19 (NPTC) handouts
3. Collaboration Work Based Learning (Pembrokeshire Consortium)
4. Collaboration Adult and Community Learning (Lindsay Harris & Pam Hales)
Learning Frameworks 1. Planning and Funding Review (Bethan Webb)
2. Learning Area Programmes (Kate Crabtree)
3. Learning Area Programmes (John Phelps)
Leading Apprenticeships 1. Apprenticeships 2011 - 2014 (Ella Davidoff)
2. Shared Apprenticeships Scheme (CCTAL)
3. Leading Apprenticeships (Nick Tyson)
HE and FE Partnerships 1. HE in FE Survey (Gavin Thomas)
2. Regionalisation and Widening Access (HEFCW)
3. The move to a fee-led system (Jackie Doodson)
4. West Side Story (Mike Williams)
5. UHOVI (John O'Shea)
Future Skills 1. Employability Strategy (Coleg Llandrillo)
2. Employability Skills (Pearson)
3. Reflections on two years of Deloitte (Bob Tod)
Sector Leading Practice 1. Sector Leading Practice - Estyn Guidance
2. Sector Leading Practice - Pembrokeshire College
3. Sector Leading Practice - St David's Catholic College
4. Sector Leading Practice: Estyn overview (Lin Howells)
5. Inspection Diagnostic Tool (Alyson Dacey RSC)
6. WBL Diagnostic Tool (Wales)

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2010

Meeting the Challenge


The ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual conference 2010, entitled "Meeting the Challenge", took place on 26 and 27 May at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.

Jackie Fisher CBE

The conference opened with a highly stimulating presentation by Jackie Fisher CBE, Chief Executive of the Newcastle College Group. The Newcastle College Group encompasses three highly successful educational companies, which all follow a profit-making business model. One of the companies was bought by the Group from administration - an action that Jackie was keen not to encourage others to follow.

Some critical success factors that she identified:

  • Communication and cross fertilisation of good practice between the three organisations
  • E-enabling communication was identified as a critical success factor in making such a large multi-site organisation work. Staff in each of the three organisations regardless of geographical proximity to Newcastle, have the same access to the single computerised system.
  • Hard working staff that deliver results and which do not bring politics or patronage into the system

powerpoint presentation: Jackie Fisher - 26 May 2010

Frank Coffield

Professor Emeritus Frank Coffield of the Institute of Education followed Jackie with a distinctly different focus. He eschewed a profit-making business model for education. Education is a process, he intoned. "It should not ape business". It is cooperation, not competition, that is the business of education.

A "back to basics approach" was needed, he said, which focused on achieving excellence in teaching and learning. ICT was a "false god", he proclaimed: it is only as good as the teacher using it. And he cautioned against the education system becoming an exams factory relying on spoon feeding to get results.

powerpoint presentation: Frank Coffield - 26 May 2010

Lesley Griffiths AM, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills - 27 May

In her short address, opening the second day of the conference, Lesley Griffiths assured delegates that skills were at the top of the Welsh Government's agenda. She also suggested that a sharp focus will be turned on basic skills, given that the Welsh Government's investment in basic skills had not yet delivered the results that had been hoped for.

David Rosser, Director CBI Wales - 27 May

David Rosser raised a laugh as he opened by reminiscing that he had last been invited to address a ColegauCymru annual conference a whole ten years ago. He suggested that it had been his "challenging" presentation to blame for being left out in the cold for the intervening ten years. "Boy, do you hold a grudge" he joked.

However, he then went on to quote from a recent CBI survey of its members, which reported very favourably on FE colleges. He thanked colleges for their hard work and for responding well to employer demands in training over recent years.

John Graystone

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Chief Executive opened with a brief examination of the education policies of the new UK coalition government before returning his focus to Wales.

Here in Wales, rates of attainment and successful completion of qualifications have improved over recent years. Colleges are delivering; they are successful. At the same time, FE colleges have also become more efficient, he said. Shared services was an avenue now being pursued that promised to deliver further efficiencies, he claimed, though possibly not better effectiveness.

Colleges had also responded positively to the Welsh Government's Transformation agenda, he claimed, with college mergers past, present and potential likely to reduce the number of colleges from 30 in 1994 to 19 by 2013. Finally, with a quick tour of various models of governance, John Graystone concluded that the current stakeholder model of governance had served FE well, but that if other models were put forward that offered further improvements, he was certain that colleges would give them proper consideration, following their strategy of improving quality through self regulation.

powerpoint presentation: John Graystone - 27 May 2010

Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, drew the conference to a close with a highly positive speech. He said: "I want to congratulate further education institutions for the way in which they have responded to our agenda for change. They have supported skills development, broadened curriculum options for young people and offered learning opportunities to a huge range of people of all ages, background and experience. They have made an enormous contribution to our ambition to improve social justice and enhance the skills base of the Welsh workforce".

In order to ensure that colleges could realise even more successes in future, he continued, he intented to set up an expert panel under the chairmanship of Rob Humphreys to look at models of governance. He stressed that it was not his intention to return colleges to local authority control, but that he wanted to "build on [colleges'] success and ensure that further education institutions have governance arrangements that will continue the progress that further education has made since incorporation 17 years ago."


Skills for the Future

Presenters: Michelle Creed and Mark Isherwood, LLUK presentation: Skills for the Future

The interactive workshop provided an update on the work of LLUK in Wales over the last 12 months and provided employers/practitioners with opportunity to discuss the impact on the skills priorities of the workforce arising from:

  • the provider network transformation agenda in Wales and other critical changes such as
  • the use of technology including social media: is this a critical change that will impact the workforce? (the social media video is available at:

to allow LLUK to identify priority activity in 2010/11 for FE and WBL in Wales.

Preparing for Estyn 2010

Presenter: Lin Howells, Estyn Presentation: preparing for Estyn

Curriculum Design and Planning 14-19

Presenters: Liz Saville, Sgiliaith; Mark Leighfield and Rebecca Olney, Welsh Assembly Government
Presentation: Presentation: Curriculum Design and Planning

Employer Engagement

Presenter: Bill Peaper, Semta Presentation: Employer Engagement

Cutting Costs Improving Efficiency

Presenters: Dave Evans, Pembrokeshire College, and Mark Roberts, Barry College & Chair of ColegauCymru's Finance Directors' Network presentation: Cutting costs improving efficiency

Accrediting Prior Learning

Presenters: Rachel Mooney, Agored Cymru, and Trevor Clark, DCELLS

Presentation: Accrediting Prior Learning

Accrediting Prior Learning: CQFW and RPL

Accrediting Prior Learning: handouts

PgCert in Leadership and Management: Launch

Presenters: Julie Lydon, Gerald Dunning and John Copley, University of Glamorgan Presentation - Pg Cert in Leadership and Management - Launch

Learner Voice

Presenters: Rhys Dart, NUS Wales, and Marian Jebb & Bethan Roberts, DCELLS presentation: Learner Voice

Media Literacy and Safeguarding Learners

Presenters: Julie Bridgman, Coleg Gwent, and Sam Oakley, RSC Wales

Presentation: Media Literacy and Safeguarding

Discussion: Media literacy and safeguarding

Healthy Colleges

Presenters: Karl Lines, British Sports Council; Joan Siddle, Ystrad Mynach College; Glen Jones, Coleg Sir Gar; Jonathan Garcia, Coleg Sir Gar

Presentation: Healthy Colleges

Healthy Colleges: apprenticeship 2010/11 nomination form

ColegauCymru Annual Conference 2009

Transformations in Further Education

Our 16th annual conference, "Transformations in Further Education", was held on 3 and 4 June 2009 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. It attracted key speakers from the world of politics, prominent academics, representatives from business and industry and partners from the public and voluntary sector. It also provided excellent networking opportunities.

The conference was organised under the following themes:

  • Transformations in the Economy
  • Responding to Economic Transformations
  • Transformations in Quality and Leadership
  • Transformations: Lessons from Across the UK

key sessions:

  • Welsh Assembly Government keynote speech
  • Partnership between businesses and colleges: by Chairman of DMM, Richard Cuthbertson MBE
  • Colleges and the economy: by the expert academic and columnist on the economy, Prof Dylan Jones Evans
  • A proposal for a CollegesWales national Welsh-medium strategy for FE: by Board member & Principal of Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, Ian Rees
  • Leadership and management in FE: by CollegesWales' Head of Quality, Berni Tyler
  • "Being Indispensible"; by the Chief Executive of Warwickshire College (and ex-Chair of the 157 Group of Colleges), Ioan Morgan
  • Contributions from fforwn's sister organisations: Neil Cuthbert of Scotland's Colleges, John D'Arcy of the Association of Northern Ireland Colleges and David Collins of the Association of Colleges, who provided a perspective on how colleges in the rest of the UK were responding to the recession
  • And of course, the annual conference address by Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive.