News Archive 2013

25/11/13: Colleges Investing in Creating a Sporting Nation

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is creating a new post with the aim of increasing participation in sport among college learners, particularly those aged 16-24 and women.

The post, a Sports Coordinator, seeks to take further the developments that ColegauCymru has initiated over the last two years. A sports strategy has already been published with the involvement and support of the college sector. A strong relationship is developing with Sport Wales and British Colleges Sport, and a 'Sport Legacy Award' was introduced at the ColegauCymru Awards 2013, sponsored by Sport Wales.

Now, ColegauCymru is creating a dedicated post, supported by Sport Wales, to ensure that colleges' efforts are supported at national, regional and local levels. Key tasks for the Sports Coordinator include:

  • increasing participation in sport amongst college learners, particularly 16-24 year olds and women
  • tackling disadvantage and broadening opportunities
  • improving performance, with particular attention to our elite sportsmen and sportswomen
  • helping to facilitate the development of a sporting nation, encouraging more sporting activities volunteering opportunities.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Colleges across Wales are showing their strong commitment to developing Wales as a high performing sporting nation. Every year colleges facilitate more sporting activities and volunteering opportunities to their students and their surrounding communities through a host of local partnerships. In addition, colleges prepare competitors for top UK sporting competitions such as the British Colleges Sport National Championships."

Dr Graystone continued: "Nonetheless, despite all of the good work that colleges already engage in, research by Sport Wales shows that the level of participation in active sport declines after the age of 16, particularly amongst women.

"Through the appointment of a Sports Coordinator, ColegauCymru will provide a central point for Wales' colleges to coordinate and further develop sporting initiatives at all levels of engagement.

"The further education sector is well known for its resourcefulness and flexibility. The Sports Coordinator is an important post that forms part of the further education sector's response to the need to improve the health of the nation as well as to coordinate, develop and promote Wales as a sporting nation."
Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 16 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

Clutch of Top UK Quality Awards for Wales' Colleges

Wales' colleges are standing alongside the best organisations in the UK in partnering employers, developing learners and apprentices and improving financial performance.

Last week, Coleg Cambria won the highest form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution: a Queen's Anniversary Prize. Awarded for its vocational and engineering training in aircraft production and maintenance for Airbus and UK aerospace, the college was only one of three colleges across the UK to be recognised in these very prestigious Prizes. Coleg Cambria also won the Welsh Government-sponsored award for 'Development of Literacy and Numeracy' at last week's AoC Beacon Awards.

Also winning an AoC Beacon Award on the UK stage last week wasColeg Meirion Dwyfor, part of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, which won the award for the best use of technology in further education.

Just a few days previously, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai had won theKnowledge Transfer Partnerships Wales award at the Millennium Stadium and becomes the only further education institution in the UK to make the UK finals, which will be held in London next week. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) is a UK-wide programme, which brings together a business, a UK university or college partner, and a recently qualified graduate (associate) to develop a business opportunity. The KTP Wales Award Trophy was awarded to Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and G.L.Jones Playgrounds Limited for implementing a new product design process from concept to manufacture, resulting in the company launching five new products, securing lucrative export contracts to Australia, Israel and Ireland, and increasing output by 19% and market shares by 7%.

At the Skills Show in Birmingham – where young people competed in a range of WorldSkills UK Finals, Coleg Sir Gâr made it to 8th position in the Skills Show medals league table - the only provider in Wales to be ranked in the UK Top 10.

Coleg Sir Gâr has shown itself once again to be committed to developing highly skilled young people able to compete on the UK – and world – stage in WorldSkills competitions. At this year's Skills Show, competitors from Coleg Sir Gâr won a gold, a bronze and three highly commended awards; whilst medals and commendations were also awarded to students and apprentices of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Gwent, Bridgend College, Pembrokeshire College, and Coleg Cambria.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Further education colleges across Wales are taking learners from their local communities and the ambitious businesses that are on their doorstep and helping them make it on the UK stage. Skills medals, new products, increased exports: it's all happening here in Wales. And our colleges continue to be at the forefront, making things happen."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 16 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Further information on the Queen's Anniversary Prizehttp://www.royalanniversarytrust.org.uk/news/winners-announced-2013

3. Further information on the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards:https://www.expertisewales.com/home.php?page_id=6&show_news_item=365

4. Further information on WorldSkills UK Competition Finals:http://worldskillsuk.apprenticeships.org.uk/news/worldskills-uk-celebrates-uk%E2%80%99s-most-talented

Wales celebrates positive impact of money management programme

The positive impact that people across Wales involved in Lloyds Bank's award-winning Money for Life programme are making in their communities was celebrated at an event in Cardiff.

Money for Life is a personal money management programme, aimed at improving the knowledge, confidence and skills of communities around the UK to help people to manage their money better.

Local communities in Wales have participated in the programme in various ways, such as completing fully-funded training qualifications and taking part in the Money for Life Challenge for 16 to 24 year olds.

Since the programme started in 2010, more than 2,400 people have been trained to teach personal money management to communities while engaging over 600 organisations across the UK.

ColegauCymru/CollegesWales and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), who deliver the programme in Wales, hosted the event at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff to bring together people who have made Money for Life such a success and to introduce the programme to more community groups and learning providers.

Speakers included Wales' Shadow Local Government Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders, AM for Aberconwy, who praised the positive impact the programme was having on communities and individuals across Wales.

"Following the global financial crisis, we have all been feeling the pinch of the tight fiscal situation that has resulted," she said. "This has given rise to increases in personal debt and the growth in payday lenders."

She expressed concern that over 90,000 people in Wales had used the services of payday lenders and she was keen to promote financial management programmes, such as Money for Life, to stop people getting into a vicious cycle of debt.

She pledged to speak about the Money for Life programme in the Senedd, as a Financial Literacy Private Member's Bill, proposed by Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins, works its way through the National Assembly for Wales.

"It's vital that we ensure that young people are given the skills to make the right decisions with their finances during their transition from learning to earning," she added. "The Money for Life programme is designed to provide them with the skills they need to successfully manage their finances and support their wider community to do so."

Allan Griffiths, Lloyds Banking Group's Ambassador for Wales, said: "The aim of the Money for Life Programme is to embed money skills in communities across the country to help them prosper. We decided the time was right to mark the amazing impact the programme has had across Wales.

"Through the Money for Life Challenge, we have awarded more than 350 grants of £500 to teams of young people to develop innovative projects that make a lasting impact on improving their own money management skills, as well as their friends and families.

"It is important to take a moment to reflect on the positive influence that the Money for Life Programme has made and I'm excited to see the impact it will continue to make around the country."

He presented awards to five individuals and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the success of the programme in Wales. For the Money for Life qualifications, Sian McDonald form Newport City Homes, was awarded the individual engagement award and Hayley Rees and Ros Protheroe from ACT Training, Cardiff received the organisation engagement award.

For the Money for Life Challenge, the outstanding project sponsor award went to Ian Reynolds from the Employment Training Centre in Swansea, the organisation engagement award went to Lucy Turtle, enterprise officer at Gower College Swansea and the outstanding support award went to Kelly Jennings, learning enrichment co-ordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Other speakers were Money for Life project manager for Wales Rachel Dodge from ColegauCymru, Money for Life Challenge Wales Ambassador Bethan Phillips, NTfW operations manager Jeff Protheroe, Cardiff Community Housing Association's financial inclusion officer Paul Elliot, Cardiff and Vale College's student financial support manager Felix McLaughlin and Rick Taylor, an essential skills tutor at Cardiff Prison.

Workshops were run by Mr Taylor, Sumim Naher and Sian McDonald from Newport City Homes, Lisa Chilcottt from Caerphilly County and Blaenau Gwent CAB and Jen Williams from Cadwyn Housing Association.

Groups aged between 16 and 24 years who wish to enter this year's Money for Life Challenge were encouraged to send in their applications before the November 22 deadline.

Ends

Picture caption:
Shadow Local Government Minister Janet Finch-Saunders AM (centre), with Money for Life project manager for Wales, ColegauCymru's Rachel Dodge (left), and Lloyds Banking Group's Ambassador for Wales Allan Griffiths at the celebration event held at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff.

Notes to editors:
For further press information please contactmoneyforlife@bluerubicon.com or Sylvia.davies@colegaucymru.ac.uk T: 029 2052 2500 M: 07968771913

About Money for Life

Money for Life is Lloyds Banking Group's award-winning personal money management programme, targeted at young people and adults in the wider Further Education, work-based learning and community learning sectors. Lloyds Banking Group has invested £8million in the programme from 2010 to 2014.

The Money for Life Qualifications programme provides accredited, fully-funded training to enable organisations to embed money management skills at a local level.

The Money for Life Challenge is a national competition that provides £500 grants to empower teams of 16-24 year olds to develop innovative money management projects that impact their communities.

Money for Life is also partnering with Home-Start to train employees to deliver money management workshops to vulnerable families this year and through 2014.

Money for Life was awarded a Big Tick and was highly commended in Business in the Community's Awards for Excellence 2012, and was also awarded a special mention in the Independent newspaper's Peer Awards 2012.

About the partners in Wales
For more in information on ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, see http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk or http://www.colegaucymru.ac.uk
For more information on the National Training Federation for Wales, see http://www.ntfw.org


Impressive A Level results at Wales Colleges

Students at Further Education colleges in Wales are celebrating an outstanding set of A level and BTEC results today. Many college leavers from Wales are now heading to Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and other prestigious centres of higher learning. Colleges are delighted by the results and recognise the achievements of the whole range of A level and vocational qualifications candidates.

Particular success was achieved by students in Grŵp NPTC Group's 'Gifted and Talented programme', where 100 per cent of students gained A* to B grades and 94 percent of those students achieved an A* or A grade. Ffion Williams from NPTC Group – who gained an A*AA plus the Welsh Bacc - is going to Edinburgh University to study law. Gower College Swansea is sending 9 students Oxbridge this year - in addition to the 25 former Gower College Swansea students who are already studying there.

St David's Sixth Form College is also reporting outstanding results for the 120 students on its Honours Programme - with 90% gaining A*-B grade at A2. Hard work and talent has meant that success rates at The College at Merthyr Tydfil have soared by 38% in one year.

2013 sees the first round of AS results for the new A-level Centre at the campus in Nantgarw, where the partnership between Coleg y Cymoedd, St David's Sixth Form College and Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic School has now been running for a year. The first results show great promise, with a 100 per cent pass rate in Welsh,

French, drama, photography, media studies, design technology and religious studies.
A host of college students are now heading towards rewarding professional and vocational careers. Kiera Soanes of Coleg Sir Gar, for instance, is heading to Exeter University to study medicine after achieving A grades in Maths, Chemistry and History. Beth Allmend, an exceptionally talented young musician from Coleg Cambria is taking up a place at the world renowned Royal College of Music in London after gaining an A* in Music. Former 'Only Boys Aloud' member Matthew Jennings of Coleg Sir Gâr produced outstanding results with A* in Maths and Further Maths and A in Chemistry and Physics. Matthew is now going to Imperial College in London to study Physics.

Vocational learners have also achieved strong results this year. 111 students at Bridgend College earned the much sought after 'triple Distinction' profile in their Level 3 Extended Diploma - which carries the same UCAS points as a top A level grade. A further 40 learners gained the top grade in their vocational qualifications in other diplomas at the college. Vocational students at Gower College Swansea are also celebrating superb BTEC results today – 25% had triple Distinctions (D*/D) and a further 23% had a combination of Distinction and Merit grades. Students on Coleg Ceredigion's Performing Arts courses were particularly successful, with Molly Clark-Yospa, Orion Hart and Liana Vincent all achieving triple distinction in Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts. All three now intend to progress to university.

It is not only the traditional teenage full time A level students that colleges help to personal success. There are also mature students, part-time students and second-chance students who have received their results today. Cardiff and Vale College student Omoefo Eguavoen (25), who is taking a B in Biology and a B in Chemistry to university is already looking forward to specialising in cardiology or neurology after a first degree.

The Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "This has been an impressive year for students taking their A levels and BTECs at FE colleges in Wales. Students, with support from their teachers, have worked hard to ensure that the A level pass rate at our colleges has remained very high. A number of colleges are major providers of A levels, giving these creditable results a national significance."

"Our colleges have proved that their most talented students can attain results that match the best. Achieving at least three A grades were more than 20 students at Coleg Cambria, 21 students at Grŵp NPTC Group and 60 in Gower College Swansea. May I offer my warmest congratulations to the high performing students who are going on to further study at universities – including some of the most prestigious universities in the UK. I would like to congratulate students taking vocational subjects, who have also succeeded in gaining a place at university or will now pursue an opportunity to take up a higher apprenticeship."

"This has been another excellent year for students, teachers and support staff in Wales' colleges and I wish the students every success in the future."

Ends

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 2500 or 07968771913

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 16 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Press contacts for the colleges named in this release:
Coleg Gwent: Kim Spurr T: 01495 333507 M: 0772 0380545
Grwp NPTC Group: Fay Harris T: 01639 648006
Coleg Sir Gâr: Mandy Wyrwoll T: 01554 748533
Gower College Swansea: Nicola Roberts or Eleanor Lewis T: 01792 284262
Cardiff and Vale College: Christopher Baker T: 01446 725015
Coleg Cambria: Nicola Moore: 01244 834531
Pembrokeshire College: Geoff Elliott or Charlie Royal T: 01437 753100
St David's Catholic Sixth Form College: Alwyn Lloyd or Holly Bryant T: 029 20498 555
•Grŵp Llandrillo Menai: Jane Cater T: 01492 546666, or Sarah Wynn at Coleg Menai (part of Grwp Llandrillo Menai T: 01248 370125 ext 3548)

Welcome to the new Education and Skills team

ColegauCymru has given a warm welcome to Huw Lewis, the new Minister for Education and Skills, whose appointment has just been announced.

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "On behalf of further education colleges in Wales, I warmly welcome the appointment of Huw Lewis AM as Education and Skills Minister. The college sector had a strong and productive relationship with Leighton Andrews - we wish him well on the backbenches.

"Colleges look forward to equally positive relations with Huw Lewis - who has been a strong advocate of the importance of skills and education in addressing poverty and social injustice. Our new Minister clearly faces challenges in improving Wales's educational performance and continuing to raise standards. He can be assured that colleges will work closely with him to deliver the Government's crucial agenda on education reform."

In welcoming Ken Skates AM as the new Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Dr Graystone said: "Raising skills levels is at the centre of everything that colleges do. We are keen to work closely with the new Deputy Minister in ensuring that young people and adults who make up the workforce in Wales have the necessary skills to meet the changing needs of the Welsh economy."

Dr Graystone also paid tribute to Jeff Cuthbert with whom the sector has worked closely: "Jeff Cuthbert has been a tireless and effective Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology and has been an important ally for all those involving in building up Wales's skills base. We wish Jeff Cuthbert well in his new Ministerial role and we will continue to work with him in addressing poverty and educational inequality."
Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Details of the reshuffle are found on the Welsh Government website:http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/firstminister/2013/130626wgch/?lang=en

Butcher and Health Board Win VQ Awards in Wales

A champion young butcher who employs two apprentices and a health board, which is committed to improving staff skills and patient care, celebrated victory at an awards ceremony to celebrate vocational qualifications in Wales.

Welsh Young Butcher of the Year Tomi Jones, 22, from Llangollen adds the VQ Learner of the Year award to his growing list of honours, while Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board at Wrexham collected the VQ Employer of the Year award.

The EU-backed awards were presented by Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, at a ceremony held at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw, one of three regional VQ Day events in Wales today.

Tomi, who runs Jones' Butchers in Llangollen, beat off stiff competition from former Cardiff and Vale College student Leo Hacker, who now works for Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London and multi-award winning Helen Wynne, owner of Blythswood Childminding Services, Wrexham, who were also shortlisted for the award.

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

"Winning this award is one of the greatest achievements of my life so far," said the talented butcher, who next month represents Wales in The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders' Premier Young Butcher competition in Birmingham. "It just proves that hard work and dedication gets you to where you want to be."

Jones was nominated for the award by his training provider, Cambrian Training Company, based in Welshpool. Having achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship in Butchery Retail Skills, he is now working towards an Apprenticeship in Butchery Skills whilst also running a shop and employing two apprentices.

The third generation of his family to run the butcher's business, he is passionate about the industry and promoting butchery as an interesting and rewarding career for young people.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board beat Nantgarw–based business services company Capita and Flintshire County Council to take the VQ Employer of the Year Award. This award recognises employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.

The health board has put vocational qualifications at the heart of its training and development. A Vocational Education Department has been established and, over the last two years, 110 candidates have gained a level two qualification and 302 candidates have gained a level three qualification.

Benefits include efficient stock control and less waste, widespread improvement in infection control and more patient support at meal times. Maternity support workers have also been introduced through the acquisition of relevant VQs.

Jill Williams, the health board's vocational education manager, said: "I am absolutely delighted. This award is for everybody at the health board who is following a vocational qualification. They are often the unsung heroes and it's fantastic for them to be recognised."

Wales' Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert congratulated the winners and finalists. "It's important that vocational qualifications become, and remain, first choice options for our brightest and best learners and that their worth is fully recognised. VQ Day plays a key role in securing that objective.

"One of my priorities since being appointed Deputy Minister has been to ensure that vocational qualifications are recognised alongside academic qualifications for their value to the individual and society. That is why, following an independent review of qualifications, the Welsh Government is already taking steps to ensure that vocational qualifications remain relevant, valued and fit for the future.

"I hope that this year's VQ Day will inspire even more individuals to consider a vocational pathway to success, further cementing the position of vocational qualifications at the heart of our economy and national life."

Scott Waddington, Wales Commissioner for Employment and Skills, said: "Vocational qualifications provide an excellent grounding for careers in all sectors of the economy and a valuable framework within which young people can progress at work and build the skills that Welsh industry needs.

"It's vital that these qualifications are made available to as many young people as possible."

Other regional VQ Day events were held at Deeside College's Connah's Quay Campus and The South West Wales Regional Learning Partnership brought together learning providers to arrange 'have a go' activities at Aberavon Shopping Centre, Port Talbot, Oxford Street, Swansea and St Elli Shopping Centre in Llanelli.

Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

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

Ends

Six of the best compete for VQ Awards in Wales

Six of the best employers and learners in Wales have been selected as finalists from a large entry to compete for coveted Vocational Qualifications Awards 2013.

Winners of the VQ Employer of Year and VQ Learner of the Year awards will be announced on June 5 at a ceremony to be held at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw, which will host one of three regional Vocational Qualifications (VQ) Day events in Wales.

The VQ Employer of Year Award finalists are business processing outsourcing company Capita, based at Nantgarw, Flintshire County Council at Northop and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board at Wrexham.

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

The VQ Learner of the Year Award finalists are Welsh Young Butcher of the Year champion Tomi Jones from Llangollen, former Cardiff and Vale College student Leo Hacker, who now works for Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London and Helen Wynne, owner of Blythswood Childminding Services, Wrexham.

This award recognises learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.

Wales' Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said: "Vocational qualifications can help individuals of all ages 'get the edge', whether that's within their current or future careers or as a platform for further education.

"We want to recognise the value of vocational qualifications and celebrate the value of vocational achievement both for the individual and the nation. Only with appropriately skilled and trained people can we drive the Welsh economy forward.

"VQ Day on June 5 aims to raise the status of technical, practical and vocational learning and celebrate vocational achievement."

Three regional events in Wales will celebrate VQ Day by shining a spotlight on the quality, variety and diversity of vocational qualifications.

In North Wales, Deeside College's Connah's Quay Campus is arranging hands-on demonstrations of vocational skills assisted by a range of post-16 education and training providers.

The South West Wales Regional Learning Partnership will also provide hands-on opportunities at Aberavon Shopping Centre, Swansea City Centre and St Elli Shopping Centre in Llanelli. Local radio will be supporting the day across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, coordinated by Coleg Sir Gâr, Gower College Swansea and Neath Port Talbot College.

Apart from hosting the the VQ Awards ceremony, Coleg Morgannwg's Nantgarw Campus will bring education and training providers together with employers to lead workshops and hands-on opportunities.

VQ Day is designed to celebrate vocational skills and the success they bring, raise standards throughout Wales and identify and publicise exemplars. In addition, the awards highlight that vocational skills improve the performance of individuals and organisations and equip Wales with a world class workforce.

Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

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

Ends

Notes to editors
Contact: Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818.
For more information on VQ Day across the UK, go to www.vqday.org.uk

Top performing colleges and learners awarded

At a glittering ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff on 22 May, outstanding learners and teachers were recognised as the top performers across colleges in Wales, and seven college teams were awarded for driving improvements that benefit learners.

ColegauCymru's Annual Awards recognise outstanding achievements by learners, teachers and colleges and the quality of submissions for the ColegauCymru Awards 2013 was notably high.

At a time when the Welsh Government has been expecting a transformation of the post-16 education and training sector, colleges have shared resources, merged with partners, and developed strong strategic alliances. Further education colleges and institutions in Wales will number 15 by the end of the year, down from 25 just a few years ago. Colleges are now fewer in number, but better prepared to face future challenges. With strategic changes still underway, it was particularly apt that 'Leadership at a Time of Change' was a strongly contested award category. Congratulations to the winner of the award, Coleg Sir Gâr.

Rising to the theme of the annual conference, 'Colleges Delivering for Wales', Yale College, Wrexham, won an astounding three awards at the evening ceremony: Teaching and Learning; Digital Learning; and Literacy and Numeracy. It is the only college in Wales to hold 'research engaged college' status from the National Federation for Educational Research (NFER) and the college's professional learning communities are clearly delivering for its learners, enabling them to achieve well above the Wales average for A levels and the Edexcel National Diploma Benchmark.

Employability skills were key to a number of awards.

Following last year's inspirational Olympics and Paralympics, colleges are looking to play an even more active role in developing Wales as a healthy, sporting nation. Congratulations to Coleg Sir Gâr, which was part of the London 2012 Get Set Network, on winning the Sport Legacy Award. Coaching, mentoring, events-organising and fundraising are just some of the skills students learn at the college, alongside a host of sporting opportunities from leisure activities to the elite level.

Winning the 'International Award', Coleg Morgannwg has shown a drive to learn from the best in the world. The college has developed a host of opportunities to widen the horizons of its learners, taking advantage of European vocational exchange programmes. It also serves as the UK lead in multinational social science research projects and has a well-established engineering programme with the United Arab Emirates.

Enhancing employability through developing bilingual skills has netted Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – Coleg Menai the 'Welsh and Bilingualism Award'. The college is working with employers in the engineering sector along with 11 schools to develop engineering provision through the medium of Welsh with the aim of helping local young people quality for new career opportunities brought by the Energy Island development, and hence help them stay in their local communities.

Dr John Graystone, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said: "With the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Jeff Cuthbert delivering a highly positive speech to the annual conference, 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 in further education is properly recognised. The awards are also central to colleges' continual efforts to raise standards across the board by learning from the best."

In addition to the seven categories of ColegauCymru Awards 2013 open to colleges, the ColegauCymru Awards 2013 also recognised two individuals: a Learner of the Year and a Teacher of the Year.

Dr John Graystone continued: "It is important that we remember at all times that the purpose of colleges is to support learners in reaching their goals. Excellent teachers are key to enabling learners achieve, and it is right that they are recognised on the national stage. Congratulations to Tracey Waterhouse of Coleg Gwent, who was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award against a very strong shortlist. A Creative Studies and Hairdressing Tutor, Tracey takes a leading role in innovation in teaching and learning, having teaching sessions videoed to share good practice, and with student success rates that are well above the national comparator.

"Outstanding learners are of course the success story of colleges. Congratulations to Jacob Thomas of Pembrokeshire College in winning the Learner of the Year Award. He is an outstanding role model. Having been crowned Welsh and British Champion in the sport of Boccia in 2010, Jacob is ranked 17th in the world and represented the UK in the 2012 Paralympics. I wish him every success in following his passion to become a sports coach."

Dr Graystone continued: "The ColegauCymru Awards 2013 not only benefit learners but also have a clear value to a wide range of highly-respected national organisations. We are delighted to have received sponsorship and strong support this year from: City & Guilds/ILM, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Pearson, OCR Cymru, RSC Wales, Sport Wales, the Welsh Government and the WJEC."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is the national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The awards ceremony took place in the evening of 22 May 2013 at City Hall, Cardiff. More information on the awards, including a booklet highlighting the key features of each shortlisted submission, is available from http://bit.ly/yjLaoO

3. Photographs of the award winners are available from http://on.fb.me/17mOAg2

4. The categories of the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Awards 2013 and their sponsors (in brackets) with the shortlisted colleges and winners (w):Awards for IndividualsLearner of the year (ColegauCymru / CollegesWales): Jacob Thomas, Pembrokeshire College (w); Gareth Jones, Coleg Sir Gâr; Daniel Keane, Deeside College.Teacher of the year (City & Guilds/ILM): Tracey Waterhouse, Coleg Gwent (w); Alan Lowry, Yale College, Wrexham; Kate Williams, Pembrokeshire College.
Awards for InstitutionsLiteracy and Numeracy (WJEC): Yale College, Wrexham (w); Cardiff & Vale College; Coleg Gwent.International (OCR Cymru): Coleg Morgannwg (w); Yale College, Wrexham; Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – Coleg Llandrillo.Sport Legacy (Sport Wales): Coleg Sir Gâr (w); Gower College Swansea; Neath Port Talbot College.Teaching and Learning (Welsh Government): Yale College, Wrexham (w); Coleg Sir Gâr; Coleg Gwent.Leadership at a Time of Change (Pearson): Coleg Sir Gâr (w); Grŵp Llandrillo Menai; Coleg Morgannwg.Welsh and Bilingualism (Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol): Grŵp Llandrillo Menai – Coleg Menai (w); Bridgend College; Yale College, Wrexham.Digital Learning (RSC Wales): Yale College, Wrexham (w); Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Gwent.

Colleges Delivering for Wales

The era of transforming the post-16 learning sector is entering its final phase and the spotlight is now firmly on delivering the needs of Wales' learners, its communities and its industry. That is the key focus of the ColegauCymru / CollegesWales annual conference, which opens on 22 May in Cardiff.

Learning from the best colleges, listening to learners, responding to employers, and engaging in the development of the new qualifications and funding structures: these are the themes of the conference.

In addition, colleges are looking to go the extra mile through strengthening higher vocational education and entrepreneurship opportunities, as well as ensuring, post Olympics and Paralympics, that colleges play an even more active role in developing Wales as a healthy, sporting nation.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "Responding to Welsh Government policy to transform the post-16 education and training sector, colleges have shared resources, merged with partners, and developed strong strategic alliances. Further education colleges and institutions in Wales will number 15 by the end of the year, down from 25 just a few years ago. Colleges are now fewer, but stronger.

"More changes are underway, with a new planning and funding regime, a new qualifications structure for Wales, and a Bill on giving colleges increased responsibilities all under consideration.

"Critically for Wales' learners, its communities and its industry, colleges are now in a stronger position to make a bigger impact. Not only within Wales, but beyond its borders. Colleges are looking to benchmark against the best in the world, learn from colleges who have achieved excellence in teaching and learning, play an active part in international skills competitions and work with businesses, large and small, to respond to their current and future needs. And of course, responding to the voice of the learners themselves is critical to the success of our colleges.

"I am delighted that we have a strong lineup of key speakers and a full programme of highly topical workshops that will all work to move colleges forward in delivering for Wales.

"Finally, the evening will shine a spotlight on the top quality practices that are already 'Delivering for Wales'. The Annual Awards Ceremony, in the presence of the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Jeff Cuthbert AM, will award the best of the best, including an award for Teacher of the Year and Learner of the Year.

"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 WJEC, the Welsh Government, Tribal Education, RSC Wales, Pearson, OCR, Morgan Coleg, Learndirect, City and Guilds, ILM, Capital Law, Sport Wales, y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, and Wesleyan Financial Services.

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

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Links to the conference are available from:http://www.collegeswales.ac.uk/en-GB/annual_conference-33.aspx with Twitter updates on the conference on #colegau2013 and on the annual awards on #FEAwards2013. Photographs will be published live on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CollegesWales.

A 'Value for Money' Bill for Education in Wales

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is pleased that the Welsh Government, in introducing the Further and Higher Education (Wales) Bill in the National Assembly for Wales today, recognises the maturity of the further education college sector in Wales and is taking steps to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of colleges.

As a sector, further education in Wales is performing well. Over recent years, colleges have raised standards in teaching and learning dramatically, developed strong links with employers, improved progression routes for learners, and increased bilingual and Welsh-medium learning opportunities. These are all key priorities for the Welsh Government.

For Wales as a whole, more partnerships between colleges, schools and universities are helping to develop an integrated education service that better serves individuals and the economy.

All this has been achieved against a backdrop of challenging budgets and continuous change. The 25 further education institutions of just a few years ago will be just 15 by the end of the year, thanks to a programme of mergers which has resulted in the establishment of larger and stronger colleges.

The key purpose of the Bill is to secure colleges' longstanding classification as 'not for profit institutions serving households' (NPISH). As NPISH, colleges will strive to continue to deliver high value education services for Wales. And they will continue to be subject to rigorous audit.

If there were no Bill, it is the decision of the non-devolved Office of National Statistics (ONS) that would carry sway over the classification of colleges in Wales. At the stroke of an administrative pen, the ONS has decided that it intends to reclassify colleges as 'central government bodies'. That has real consequences. The running of further education colleges would become more bureaucratic, colleges would immediately lose millions of pounds of government investment, whilst the Welsh Government would become directly responsible for managing the colleges' annual income of around £460 million.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "I very much welcome the Welsh Government's acknowledgement that, whilst colleges are rightly subjected to rigorous audit, civil servants should not be given the role of micro-managing such complex organisations.

"Every year, colleges succeed in attracting around £100 million of investment on top of the £360 million they receive from government. As 'not for profit institutions serving households', all of the surplus is ploughed back into the business of developing and delivering quality education and training to individuals, young and old, and to companies that need a well-qualified workforce to drive forward Wales' society and economy.

"If colleges were to become instead 'central government bodies', all income would be ultimately managed by the Welsh Government, including income secured from non-government sources. Colleges would not be able to save up and invest in costly new infrastructure. All surpluses, for example, would become the property of the Government.

"The Government, on the other hand, would also be hamstrung, as it would not be allowed to 'match fund' colleges' savings to invest in new industry-standard equipment and buildings. The capital funding available to further education colleges would halve overnight with dramatic consequences for college infrastructure.

"Finally, if the new 'central government colleges' posted deficits rather than surpluses, then these deficits likewise would appear on the Welsh Government's balance sheet. Small wonder, then, that the Welsh Government prefers colleges themselves to have the task of managing their annual income of £460 million and securing an annual six-figure investment to keep them in the black."

Dr Graystone concluded: "I very much hope that Assembly Members will use this opportunity to allow the further education colleges in Wales to gain the legislative and administrative freedoms set out in the Bill and retain the status of 'not for profit institutions serving households'. This will enable them to deliver excellent value for money for Wales."
Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The full title of the Bill is: the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information)(Wales) Bill. It is available from here:http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-business-fourth-assembly-laid-docs.htm?act=dis&id=245734&ds=4/2013 and the Explanatory Memorandum is available from here http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-business-fourth-assembly-laid-docs.htm?act=dis&id=245735&ds=4/2013

3. The Bill takes forward proposals set out in the Further and Higher Education (Wales) Bill White Paper published on 2 July 2012.

International Achievements Win at Awards

ColegauCymru is delighted to announce the winners of the ColegauCymru International Award, hosted as part of the British Council Wales' International Awards Ceremony 2013 held on 21 March at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells.

Joint winners, Coleg Morgannwg and Yale College, Wrexham, were recognised for their achievements in enriching both staff and learners' skills and learning experiences through the development of international opportunities.

Coleg Morgannwg demonstrated a real passion for enriching learner and staff experiences through participating in a number of technical projects, exchanges and work placements in Europe and further afield. Learners from a wide range of vocational routes have been able to use their participation directly in their learning programmes. For example, one engineering project with Germany links closely to learners' Level 3 Diploma (equivalent to A levels). The college also embeds its international experiences within Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) and the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.

Yale College in Wrexham has a clear focus on maximising the reciprocal learning that can take place when working in partnership with their counterparts in Europe as well as with African countries and with China. The college welcomes hundreds of international students to participate in short study visits, both vocational and academic, with the underlying ethos of integrating these students with the home students. This leads to a mutual exchange of learning, values and, most importantly, friendship.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said:

"ColegauCymru, now a partner in the British Council Wales' International Education Programme, is delighted that further education colleges have this year been included in the International Awards.

"Congratulations to Yale College and Coleg Morgannwg. Their experiences testify to the benefits of international engagement and demonstrate that international opportunities support learners' and teachers' personal and professional development."
Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The International Awards 2013 were held at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, on 21 March 2013. There were four categories of awards, open to schools and colleges in Wales. Coleg Morgannwg and Yale College, Wrexham were joint winners of the 'ColegauCymru / CollegesWales International Award'. The event was developed by the British Council WAles in partnership with Welsh International Dimension in Education (WIDE), Colegau Cymru and The National Centre for Languages, CILT Cymru, and supported by the Welsh Government.

3. For more information, data, and interviews on the event, please contact: Jonathan Thomas on 02920 924334 orjonathan.thomas@britishcouncil.org

Money Skills Come to College

Starting today, up to 15,000 college students across Wales will be getting to grips with managing money, a vital skill for life, in a focused week of learning.

Many young adults at college face the challenges of living independently for the first time. Most will not have previously received any formal financial education.

Coordinated across Wales by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Barclays' Money Skills weeks is kicking off in Wales today in six colleges, with six more colleges following over the next eight weeks. From rural to urban areas in all four corners of the country, there will be a focus on developing financial literacy skills in college tutorials, in the classroom, in the foyer and in student unions.

Barclays has worked in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Financial Services to develop the week-long series of money related activities and provide students with the tools they need to stay in control of their finances. With a toolkit of resources as well as employee volunteers provided by Barclays, students will have opportunities to participate in interactive money management activities based on practical topics such as food, fashion and independent living.

ColegauCymru's Julia Owens, coordinator of Barclays Money Skills weeks in Wales, said: "Learning how to manage money is not a statutory part of the curriculum for college students, but financial skills are vital to being able to live independently.

"Thanks to all the partners who are working together across Wales and the UK on Barclays Money Skills weeks, college students will be getting involved in interesting, fun and, importantly, highly relevant practical activities to help them manage their finances. I'm delighted that around 15,000 students across 12 colleges in all corners of Wales will get a real opportunity this year to develop this vital skill for life."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 19 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. Barclays Money Skills 'weeks' is a money management programme for further education colleges, designed to strengthen students' financial skills and knowledge. Participating colleges receive a resource pack which they use to run a week of money management-themed activities between February and May 2013. On the UK level, the programme is delivered by the Skills Academy in partnership with Barclays. The programme is managed in Wales by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

3. The FE colleges in Wales delivering Barclays Money Skills Weeks 2013:
Coleg Morgannwg: 4 March
Coleg Ceredigion: 4 March
Deeside College: 4 March
Neath Port Talbot College: 4 March
Pembrokeshire College: 4 March
Yale College Wrexham: 4 March
Cardiff and Vale College: 11 March
Gower College Swansea: 18 March
St David's Sixth Form College: 18 March
Ystrad Mynach College: 14 April
Coleg Powys: 22 April
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai: 29 April

Estyn Points Constructive Way Forward for Post-16 Education

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales welcomes the constructive pointers given by Estyn in its annual report, published today.

The Estyn annual report draws attention to the need to improve the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification as well as literacy and numeracy. Significantly, it also notes that different types of post-16 education providers are required to work to different criteria in determining "success" and that the funding regime contains some perverse incentives. This can lead to learning provision not always being tailor-made to individual learners.

ColegauCymru is delighted that the Welsh Government last week initiated a review of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. Colleges continue to give strong support to the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification, but agree with Estyn that it needs to be more robust and flexible as well as more relevant to wider range of learning programmes.

Colleges have expanded their efforts to develop the literacy and numeracy skills of learners, providing targeted catch-up programmes as well as embedding literacy and numeracy into mainstream vocational learning programmes. The networks of college professionals coordinated by ColegauCymru are well-placed to consider Estyn's findings on this important area of work, and in working to ensure that all learning areas across all colleges learn from best practice.

Estyn's report identifies the continued competition between post-16 providers. Competition is good where it helps drive up standards. On the other hand, competition can serve as a diversion of scarce public funds and can lead to the risk that institutions put their own interests above those of the needs of learners. Over recent years, a number of further education colleges have formed close partnerships with other colleges and with schools and other education providers which have reduced competition.

Many colleges have been through mergers or are in the process of merging. Estyn deems these mergers to be successful: colleges are able to deliver more efficient, joined-up learning whilst also improving their high quality provision. By the end of this year, the number of FE colleges is likely to number just 15 (compared to 25 four years ago).

Collaboration was, after all, a key expectation of the Learning & Skills (Wales) Measure passed in 2009. But, as the Estyn report identifies, there is scope for more collaboration across the different types of provider.

Estyn is right to point out that success is measured differently in schools and colleges. This is because schools and colleges are required to collect different sets of data by Government. It is ColegauCymru's strong view, however, that the outcomes should be transparent and comparable across the post-16 learning sector. We welcome the Government's commitment (made in response to the Thomas Report on Education Structures in Wales) to align the data systems between school sixth forms and colleges, and we hope that the Estyn Annual Report will renew the Government's efforts to bring this about.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: "The further education colleges welcome the constructive pointers given by Estyn in its report.

"It highlights the way forward in a number of key areas, including the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification and literacy and numeracy.

"I am pleased that the report has also considered structural changes that would benefit learners, recognising that different criteria of success are used to judge different types of post-16 providers. Streamlining these structures would help deliver a more integrated 'Team Wales' approach that focuses relentlessly on ensuring that all learners reach their potential."

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

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

2. Estyn's Annual Report 2011-12 is available fromhttp://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/annual-report/annual-report-2011-2012