News Archive 2016

Getting Young People Active: College Students create new opportunities

Welsh Colleges Sport attracted 300 participants to its active conference on 10 June 2016 with the key aim of building the skills of college students to engage, inspire and mentor their less active peers into getting fit.

Held at Cardiff Metropolitan University's Cyncoed Campus, students from further education colleges from the four corners of Wales tried out all kinds of physical activities, such as mini squash, freerunning and dance fit. The emphasis was on learning how to coach, lead and inspire participation in fun physical activities that can be set up quickly, easily and at low cost.

Rob Baynham, Sport Coordinator at ColegauCymru, said: “Organised, competitive sport is probably not the solution in increasing activity levels for all students. But physical activity? There is undoubtedly something that each individual will take an interest in that will get them off chairs and get active.

“Welsh Colleges Sport is aiming to ensure that all students have an opportunity to get active at college in a way that they enjoy and that improves their health and well being. We’re aiming to find something for everyone regardless of gender, social background or physical ability”.

Opening the conference with a passionate address to colleges’ sports students, Sport Wales Chair Dr Paul Thomas said: “The idea of sport is to allow people to grow in confidence. We want Wales to be an active nation. Not 75% or 80% active. Everybody active, regardless of ability. And that is where you, college learners, come in. Enjoy every minute of your time, nurture the passion, and you will go on to drive sport in the community, running your own clubs, leading your own sporting activities. Give 100% to everything you do.

“You don’t have to be the best. In fact, it’s really difficult to be the best. But what you can do is give your best. That is the essence of sport.”

Taking up the baton at the event was Keira Davies, Young Ambassador and sport student at NPTC Group. She said: “The conference felt like a breath of fresh air. Every session was designed to push us out of our comfort zone and try something we wouldn't necessarily think of doing in our local area or college. There are definitely a number of activities I would like to take back and use in my college.”

Welsh Colleges Sport is a partnership that consists of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Sport Wales and that brings together all of Wales’ further education colleges, National Governing Bodies of sport, and other key stakeholders in the wider community. The conference was supported by Cardiff Metropolitan University learners as well as a number of National Governing Bodies such as Disability Sport Wales and Streetgames Wales who, between them, ran 40 different learner-focused sessions.

They included:

  • Developing innovative fitness activities – low to high intensity sessions including Dance Fit, Pink Belt Kickboxing, Rumble Roller, Fluidity Freerunning and Watt Bike, GoTri
  • Creating new recreational sports options – modified sports and coach education sessions including Cardio Tennis, Doorstep Sports, Popup Squash, Popup Golf, Wheelchair Rugby, Social Running
  • Developing new partnerships and promoting student employability –workshops to develop student led microbusiness, speed dating with sports National Governing Bodies, effective use of social media and Ambassadors’ programmes for a variety of sports.

Rob Baynham concluded: “The results of the first ever Sport Survey of Further Education, conducted earlier this year by Sport Wales in partnership with CollegesWales, showed that college students have a great appetite to become more physically active. They just need the right opportunities.

“We know the goal. The conference, through the huge efforts and cooperation of a wide range of partners and the commitment of college students, is helping us to get there. I fully expect to see more learners taking part in more physical activities over the next year.”

Achievements of learners and employers celebrated at VQ Awards

A young woman from Llanelli who is blazing a trail in the hospitality industry, a woman who has been promoted from administrator to docks and marina supervisor at the Port of Milford Haven and a successful North Wales recycling company were the main winners at this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards last night (Tuesday).

Ten finalists and their learning providers gathered at St David’s Hotel and Spa, Cardiff, on the eve of VQ Day, to discover who had won the awards, which were presented by Minister for Skills and Science Julie James.

The annual awards, organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, celebrate the achievements of both learners and employers across Wales.

The VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year Award went to Elizabeth Forkuoh, Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli, who was nominated by Coleg Sir Gâr, Llanelli. Multilingual Elizabeth, 20, who speaks Italian, English, Twi, French and some Welsh, won gold awards at the Skills Competitions Wales and WorldSkills UK. She now has secured a coveted place on the WorldSkills Squad UK and hopes to compete in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Having moved to Llanelli when she was 15, Elizabeth is now studying a level three NVQ Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership at Coleg Sir Gâr in Carmarthen, while working part-time at the Stradey Park Hotel. Although ambitious, Elizabeth has decided to defer her degree in hotel management until 2018 to focus on competition opportunities.

The VQ Higher Learner of the Year Award was won by Melanie Durney from Milford Haven Port Authority, who was nominated by Pembrokeshire College. Melanie has been promoted from administrator to managing a team that will be instrumental in the success of a multi-million pound regeneration project set to bring jobs, boost tourism and create a brighter economic future for her home town.

Originally joining the Port of Milford Haven as docks administrator, she completed a Level 4 NVQ in Business and Administration before her promotion to docks co-ordinator and went on to achieve a Level 5 NVQ in Management to become docks and marina supervisor.

Winner of the VQ Employer of the Year Award was recycling company Thorncliffe from Mold, who were nominated by Cambrian Training Company. Vocational qualifications are supporting the company’s ambition to send zero waste to landfill in the future.

A double winner at last year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, the company has successful recycling sites in Mold and Abergele which are each saving 30,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfill. To achieve its business goals, the company launched an Apprenticeship programme four years ago and it now has 12 apprentices.

Minister of Skills and Science Julie James congratulated the 10 finalists and praised everyone who had been nominated for the VQ Awards this year. “Vocational skills have a huge impact on the Welsh economy and we value the gold standard of vocational learning being delivered to people right across Wales,” she said.

“Both Vocational Qualifications Day and the Vocational Qualifications Awards provide the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate not only the high standard of technical, practical and vocational learning being delivered in Wales, but also the many personal successes and achievements of our learners.

“High quality VQs are essential to provide individuals and businesses with the skills, experience, motivation and inspiration they need to get ahead. Ultimately it is only with appropriately skilled and trained people that can we drive forward the Welsh economy.

“Many of our VQ Award finalists this year have demonstrated that they are marked out as future leaders or ambitious entrepreneurs and have an eye on making sound business decisions and increasing productivity.”

The other finalists were: VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year: Nick Rudge, Fat Duck, Bray, nominated by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Coleg Llandrillo; Darryn Pitman, Captiva Spa, Caerphilly, nominated by ISA Training, Bridgend; Stefano Amoruso, Trojan Electronics, Swansea, nominated by Gower College Swansea.

VQ Higher Learner of the Year finalists: Dorota Orzeszek, Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council, nominated by GCS Training from Gower College Swansea; and Lorna Wilcox-Jones, Cartrefi Cymru, Bangor, nominated by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Denbigh campus.

VQ Employer of the Year finalists: Arthur J. Gallagher, Llantrisant, nominated by Acorn Learning Solutions; and Wales Community Rehabilitation Company, Cardiff, nominated by VQ Assessment Services.

Now in their ninth year, the awards are held on the eve of VQ Day on June 8, a celebration of the benefits and value of high quality technical, practical and vocational learning to individuals and to the economy.

Learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. 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.

Colleges and the Mentrau Iaith: Working Together for the Welsh Language

On 30th May, 12:30, on Coleg Cambria’s stall at the Maes at the Urdd Eisteddfod, Flintshire, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Mentrau Iaith Cymru will be launching a Memorandum of Co-operation which outlines both organisations’ intentions to work together to encourage the use of the Welsh language.

CollegesWales and Mentrau Iaith Cymru are committed to work in partnership to develop and increase Welsh-medium and bilingual opportunities for people across Wales. Together they will promote the benefits of bilingualism to young people, emphasising the importance of the Welsh language as a skill for employment. In addition, ColegauCymru and Mentrau Iaith Cymru intend to support the strategic development of Welsh-medium and bilingual activities within further education colleges.

Both organisations are eager to build on their individual achievements and projects and to co-operate on a strategic level in order to support the development of Welsh-medium and bilingual opportunities for people across Wales. By working effectively together it will be possible to expand the audience and participants taking part in both organisations’ activities.

Claire Roberts, Director of Engagement at ColegauCymru said: “By working together we are more likely to be able to offer more Welsh-medium and bilingual opportunities outside of formal courses and training. Without a doubt, the Mentrau’s services of holding Welsh-medium activities will be a great help to the colleges as they look to expand Welsh-medium and bilingual opportunities to students.

“With two thirds of students aged 16-19 receiving education and training through further education colleges, we have a large audience who could benefit from this partnership. I very much look forward to seeing the national partnership develop.”

Emily Cole, National Coordinator of Mentrau Iaith Cymru said: “The Mentrau Iaith across Wales recognise the importance and contribution of further education colleges to Welsh-medium and bilingual training opportunities for people of all ages, and certainly for young people who are leaving, or about to leave school. It is extremely important that young people receiving education and training from their colleges also have access to formal and informal opportunities to use the Welsh language, and we hope to build on the partnerships and co-operation already in place with the Mentrau and their local colleges in order to achieve this.”

Sector Responds to Announcement of New Welsh Government

Responding to the new Welsh Government Cabinet and Ministers announced on 19 May 2016, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said:

“Having appointed two Cabinet Secretaries and two Ministers to be responsible for post-16 education and skills, the First Minister appears to acknowledge the top level focus needed to drive forward the economy through developing and investing in Wales’ human capital. Education, the economy, lifelong learning and skills are critical areas of development for Wales. We welcome four separate Cabinet posts provided that the result is a coherent, joined up and effective programme for Government.”

“With Ken Skates and Julie James, both former Deputy Ministers for Skills now a team as Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Minister for Skills respectively, they could be an effective pair in driving the economy.

“I also welcome the appointment of a new Minister for Lifelong Learning, given that there is an urgent need to address the deep cuts in adult learning we have seen over recent years in Wales. But it is curious that Lifelong Learning has been separated from Skills. It is fundamental that strategies on apprenticeships, work based learning and part-time learning for adults are joined up.

“We are awaiting clarification on how the Ministerial positions will work together. It will also be important, with Lib Dem Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams in Government but not in coalition, that the Government acts as one.”

Details of the new Welsh Government is found in the following link:

Colleges’ call to stem the drain in Wales’ educational expertise

Responding to the publication of official statistics that show a significant fall in the number of staff employed by further education institutions, the post-16 skills and education charity ColegauCymru has warned that the drain in educational expertise risks jeopardising Wales’ competitiveness.

New figures published by the Welsh Government show the total full time equivalent number of staff employed by further education colleges and institutions in Wales fell by 7.3% between 2013/14 and 2014/15. 665 full time equivalent staff were lost in the last academic year alone. The number of staff employed is now lower than it has been in the ten previous years.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Iestyn Davies said: “Fewer staff employed in the colleges results in fewer learning opportunities. This risks the future of so many young people and blights the chances of individuals looking to reskill or change career direction.”

Hundreds of staff have left the sector as the colleges have merged and restructured in order to manage indiscriminate funding cuts. Former Welsh Government Ministers challenged the sector to make savings in ‘backroom functions’ in order to protect ‘frontline services’. This has been done. The statistics show that the proportion of staff involved in teaching and learning has remained steady, at around 71% of total staff. Staffing in administration and central services on the other hand has reduced from 14% of the total in 2013/14 to 12% in 2014/15.

However, the scale of the challenge set by a series of difficult funding settlements has meant that staffing across all areas of college provision has been cut, including in teaching and learning.

Iestyn Davies added: “Further education colleges are key economic drivers. They support young people and adults alike to raise their skills levels and prepare them for higher education, employment, promotion and entrepreneurship.

“Whatever their specific job roles, all staff in further education colleges contribute to the delivery of essential skills as well as academic, vocational and professional qualifications. They support, coach and mentor high flying apprentices and learners to world class standard. They help to build a more resilient society and help develop the capacity of business to improve productivity and efficiency.

“In order to be able to dedicate their expertise to their key role of teaching and learning, they need to be supported by efficient and professional central services. Colleges have tightened their belts, saved on backroom services and become more efficient. But the loss of so many staff in just one academic year means that Wales is the poorer for it.

“With fewer staff available to deliver learning to a growing population in a nation that has an acute need to develop its economy, we cannot afford any further a continued drain on colleges’ human capital.

“Ahead of the publication of the programme for Government, Wales urgently needs to establish a socially just model for post-16 education, skills training and lifelong learning.”

In its manifesto ahead of the recent elections, ColegauCymru called on the next Welsh Government to agree a strategic vision and to bring coherence to the whole of the post-16 education and training sector. It says that further education and education for adults is not a ‘nice to have’ option but essential. It has called on Ministers to ensure that education and training opportunities are properly resourced with professional staff to deliver a socially just and prosperous Wales.

Iestyn Davies concluded: “Colleges are looking forward to working with the next Welsh Government and the members of the National Assembly to deliver change. That change must stem the drain in professional human capital from our not-for-profit college model.”

The statistics, Staff at further education institutions in Wales, 2014/15 (SDR 56/2016) were published on 10 May 2016 and are available from

Call to Establish Framework to Develop Expert Technicians into Drivers of Business

Post-16 education and training champion ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is calling on the next Welsh Government to establish a new framework to develop expert technicians into drivers of business. It says such a move will help position Wales as a world leader in skills-intensive industries.

A number of qualifications at higher education level, such as NVQs, HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees, already develop vocationally relevant skills to a high level. But there is no recognised framework that brings together these high level technical skills alongside the managerial, entrepreneurial and educational skills necessary for the development of a business and its workforce.

Small and micro businesses may not have the luxury of being able to appoint a training manager, a finance director, a business development manager and a technical expert. Medium sized businesses looking to expand may need their highly skilled and expert technicians to expand their portfolio of expertise to manage human and financial resources.

Following early, positive discussions with a range of stakeholders, ColegauCymru is now calling on the next Welsh Government to establish a new framework designation that will develop and recognise the wider range of skills that a Craft Master or an Expert Technician requires in order to develop a business. It would follow closely the well established and recognised Meister qualification in Germany and the Master Craftsperson designation already used in 12 countries across Europe.

Focusing initially on the engineering sector, it would work to extend the designation to other priority sectors including social care, hospitality and tourism. The common framework should work towards agreeing, consolidating and recognising an approved portfolio of quality assured qualifications.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “We want to see Wales show the same determination in recognising high level expertise in managing and developing businesses as our European partners and competitors.

“Establishing a Craft Master or Expert Technician designation would signal a world-leading skills proposition to international investors. And it could spur a tremendous boost to the productivity of indigenous businesses.”

The CBI and UKCES have both reported that employer demand for higher level skills across the UK is increasing. Wales, however, lags behind the UK average, with the latest statistics showing a lower percentage of adults qualified to higher education level (Level 4 and above).

Iestyn Davies continued: “The Craft Master designation could be an attractive proposition for businesses who are not only in need of individuals who can demonstrate higher levels of knowledge but who can also ground their knowledge and skills in the workplace.

“All parties going in to the Assembly elections are proud to tell the electorate that value vocational qualifications highly and that they wish to see the value of industry relevant skills better recognised. This is an opportunity on a plate for the next Welsh Government to shape and develop a new title that recognises and values expert technicians that can manage and drive forward Welsh business.”


1. Additional information on the European context of the Master Craftsperson designation is available on our blog:

2. The seminal Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales, published in 2012, called on the Welsh Government to consider “consolidating the alignment of our system with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Europe”. df

3. CBI report: Inspiring Growth: CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2015

4. UKCES report: Working Futures 2014 –2024

5. Latest statistics for Wales published by Welsh Government 20 April 2016: Levels of Highest Qualification held by Working Age Adults, 2015

New opportunity to work and learn with European neighbours to improve the lot of Wales

Alongside ambitions to foster strategic level change to Wales’ education and training sector, the post-16 skills and education charity ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is set to provide more work placements across Europe for Wales’ learners and apprentices than ever before, having just secured over €500,000 of European funding for two ambitious projects.

The longstanding ColegauCymru programme that facilitates work placements across Europe has again been successful in attracting significant funding from Erasmus+. Over the next two years, the new project will support work placements in eight European countries for 215 vocational learners and apprentices from nine colleges and two work-based settings covering 13 industry areas from aerospace engineering to travel & tourism.

The placements will challenge learners to develop a whole range of skills, including cross-cultural communication, team working and self management in addition to expanding their vocational skills. On their return to Wales, the learners will make presentations to their peers as well as their employers, college staff and leaders, with the aim of spreading the benefits of the experience more widely.

Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: “For a young adult, the experience of working for a short period in a new country can be life changing, opening up new work opportunities, broadening horizons and raising aspirations.

“We in the further education sector want to make sure that such experiences are not just the preserve of the well-connected or the well-off. Working with post-16 skills providers and employers, we want to provide young people of all backgrounds and work interests with a springboard to success. A work placement abroad may well be the launch of a new dream which may be realised close to home, in the next valley, in Europe or further afield.”

In addition to facilitating work placements for vocational learners, ColegauCymru is also looking to gather evidence to support strategic-level improvements to Wales’ vocational education and training structures. Following success in a separate bid for Erasmus+ funds, ColegauCymru will lead a delegation of managers from the post-16 skills and higher education sectors as well as statutory bodies to Catalonia next year. The purpose of the visit will be to explore post-14 bilingual vocational education and training structures, the supply and demand for bilingual skills in the workplace, and the added value or potential economic benefits of bilingualism or multilingualism.

Judith Evans continued: “There is a lot of good practice in Wales, but there is also a great deal we can learn from other nations. The visit to Catalonia will provide an opportunity to reflect on strategic level structures and policies with partners and stakeholders from the Welsh Government, the Welsh Language Commissioner, and senior representatives from further and higher education.

“Ultimately, our aim is to stimulate joined-up policy-making in education and training, and better economic opportunities for Wales and its people.”


1. ColegauCymru has supported a number of colleges and training providers in bidding for funds from the European Commission’s education and lifelong learning funding streams for a number of years (now called Erasmus+ and previously Leonardo).

2. The 2016-18 learner mobility consortium led by ColegauCymru will see work placements organised in in the following eight countries: Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. The 13 industry areas are: aerospace engineering, business administration, childcare, creative arts, hair & beauty, health and care, hospitality & catering, leadership and management, mechanical engineering, outdoor education, sport, sports therapy, and travel & tourism. The learners will be drawn from Bridgend College, Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Cambria, Coleg Gwent, Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg y Cymoedd, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, NPTC Group, Pembrokeshire College, ISA Training and TATA Steel (subject to confirmation, following recent news on TATA’s future in Wales).

3. The delegation for the study visit to Catalonia will include representatives from ColegauCymru, Coleg Cambria, Coleg Gwent, Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg y Cymoedd, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Pembrokeshire College, Gower College Swansea, the National Training Federation for Wales, the Welsh Language Commissioner, and the Welsh Government.

4. In addition to the collaborative bids for funding submitted to the European Commission by ColegauCymru, further education colleges may make college-specific bids. The total amount received by Wales’ further education sector in 2016 from Erasmus+ is not yet available. In 2015, the further education sector was allocated a total of 1,270,291 Euros for work and study placements. The figure for 2014 was 820,569 Euros. This is in addition to the 2.2 million Euros for European work placements in 2011-13.

5. ColegauCymru has not offered a view on the EU Referendum.

Welsh Girls make history at UK College Sport Finals

Students from Wales’ further education colleges re-wrote the record books and reached new heights in female team sports at last weekend’s AoC Sport National Championships in Newcastle.

Three of the Welsh Colleges women’s teams, competing against 11 other national and regional squads from around the UK, won podium positions in the blue riband rugby, netball and hockey competitions.

The women’s rugby team started the ball rolling on Saturday by retaining their title for the 8th consecutive year, despite strong competition particularly from the team representing the South East of England. This inspirational performance was led by coach and former Welsh International Jenny Davies (Coleg Menai) and Daryl Morgan (WRU / Scarlets Ladies) with players from five colleges involved: Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg y Cymoedd, Bridgend College, Pembrokeshire College and NPTC Group of Colleges.

Coach Jenny Davies said: “Daryl and I are extremely proud of the girls who demonstrated some excellent rugby and performed to such a high standard, remaining positive throughout the day. They were a pleasure to coach.

“The standard of rugby is improving and all teams demonstrated composure and scored some exciting tries but also put some big hits in. It was a privilege to be involved with this talented group of individuals and I'm certain that some of them will go onto represent Wales. The development of rugby in Wales is looking promising.”

Not to be outdone by the rugby success, the Welsh Colleges teams represented by Gower College Swansea led the way in both the netball and hockey competitions.

On Sunday, the netball team from Gower College Swansea built on their unbeaten run from Saturday by winning highly competitive games against hot favourites for the competition, Hartpury College and Exeter College. This is the first time a team from Wales has won the netball competition at the national championships, with the girls demonstrating a great deal of skill, composure and teamwork to wrestle the title from their English counterparts.

Gower College Swansea Netball Academy Coach Sarah Lewis said: “The girls played unbelievably well together, demonstrating trust, hard work and team cohesion. It is the proudest moment of my coaching career and a weekend I will never forget. The girls represented both the college and their country in the best possible way, bring the gold medal home as AoC Champions.”

Finally, with a strong track record at the championships, Gower College Swansea hockey academy didn’t disappoint, bringing home the 3rd major medal for the Welsh team at the championships. Following a strong start on Saturday, the hockey team finished strong, winning a silver medal in another of the showpiece events for women’s sport.

Sport Coordinator at Welsh Colleges Sport, Rob Baynham, said: “These achievements demonstrate a massive coup for Wales, with the girls leading the way in three of the most competitive events at the championships. Competing against some of the top academies in English college sport, chosen from regions with double the number of colleges in Wales, the girls have set a new benchmark for college sport in Wales.

“The aim now has to be to build on this achievement across Welsh Colleges Sport and use the results from Newcastle as inspiration for other female students involved in further education sport.”

Sport Wales Director of Elite Sport, Brian Davies, said: “If we are to keep producing top class talent in Wales then we need talented athletes taking part in strong competitions. These are excellent achievements showing that our young people can shine and perform against the best in the UK.”


1. Welsh Colleges Sport is the national governing body for sport in further education. It is coordinated by ColegauCymru with the support of Sport Wales. Visit or for further information.

2. The UK-wide AoC National Sport Championships is the largest annual student sporting event in the UK, attracting over 2,000 students and staff each year. The 38th Championships took place in Newcastle from 15-17 April 2016. Information on the championships is available on

Regulation and Oversight of Post-Compulsory Education & Training: Response from further education sector

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) welcome a number of recommendations made in a new report on the regulation and oversight of post-compulsory education and training in Wales. The report, which focuses on the need to deliver new forms of 16+ education and learning, recommends the creation of a new independent body to coordinate and innovate at all levels of post-compulsory education across Wales.

In particular, the report, Towards 2030 A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales, authored by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn and published on 10 March 2016, calls for better national-level structures and systems that can addresses the current lack of flexibility in Wales’ post-compulsory education and training system. It also adds to the increasing number of reports and statements seeking greater opportunities for higher level skills in Wales.

In a position that echoes both ColegauCymru’s Manifesto, Skills for a Prosperous Nation, and NTfW’s report on The Value of Apprenticeships in Wales, Professor Hazelkorn recognises the need for the next Welsh Government to work to provide an overall vision for the post-compulsory system. In doing so, the two organisations commend the report in the way that it sets out to ensure Wales has systems and structures in place to align the social, cultural and economic needs of the nation and to deliver a sustainable skills agenda, both regionally and nationally, and for now and well into the future.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “The current Welsh Government has worked with ColegauCymru, NTfW and other partners to improve access to vocational learning pathways, recognise the value of vocational learning options post-16 on a national level, and supported a growth in apprenticeships. But structures have held Wales back from being able to be as flexible as we need to be in order to deliver a seamless post-compulsory education and training system that works for learners, employers and entrepreneurs at all levels.

“As this report points out a number of issues need to be addressed on a strategic level in order to move to a more efficient, effective and above all a sustainable system. This report gives us an opportunity, immediately within the next Assembly session, to address the inherent structural weakness of the current planning and resourcing systems.

“We look forward to working with the new Welsh Government and Assembly early in its new term in exploring the issues and recommendations raised in the report and in particular at how the current statutory and strategic functions currently vested in the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and other bodies can be discharged alongside a clearer strategic role.”

Peter Rees, Executive Chair of NTfW said: “NTfW has previously called for a review of all post-compulsory education and we are pleased to see that the Hazelkorn report looks to set us on the journey to a more responsive education system. Our economy needs an education system that recognises that learning part time and in the workplace can be just as educationally challenging as learning academic subjects in a classroom. Work-based learning is equally suited to more able and talented learners.

“We look forward to working with the new Welsh Government and Assembly in exploring the issues and recommendations raised in the report.”

Wales Brings in Countries from Four Continents to Look at How to Improve Education in Wales

At the first international conference in Wales for the whole education sector, leaders and expert practitioners from five countries drawn from four continents brought their innovations and good practice to Wales on 29 February 2016.

Senior representatives from schools, colleges and universities from Finland, Canada, the Basque Country, Namibia, Bangladesh, USA and Thailand shared examples of successful initiatives alongside their Welsh partners in literacy and numeracy, delivering for industry, breaking the link between deprivation and educational attainment, normalising bilingualism, and creative use of IT in learning.

A key question for Wales’ policy makers to consider: What can Wales’ education sector learn from high-performing education systems that are closer to employers but which don’t have national quality assurance systems such as a national inspectorate and vocational examining bodies?

Chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Judith Evans, said: “There is a lot of good practice in Wales, but there is also a great deal we can learn from other nations. Not only in how to embed literacy, numeracy, bilingualism and technology in learning, but also in thinking about making changes beyond the classroom. Every educational institution is part of a wider community and affects many more individuals than the number of registered learners. We in Wales need to find ways of matching the curriculum and educational services to the needs of employers of all sizes, and to support the specific needs of disadvantaged communities.

“Wider still is the strategic framework. Seeing how other nations structure their education services at a national level opens up new perspectives. Thanks to the support of British Council Wales that enabled us to bring senior representatives and reports from five nations from across the world and experiences from two further countries to the conference, we had a real opportunity to compare and contrast, and to think critically about how we structure education in Wales.

“Especially at times of tight public funding, we need to look outside to get a fresh perspective, to consider how high-performing nations prioritise investment in education and training, and what they decide to forego.

“The international teaching and learning conference was an opportunity to get new ideas from the strategic level through to the classroom level. I am delighted that the conference was supported by the Welsh Government and we look forward to working together to explore some of the thought-provoking ideas and structures that we had the good fortune to hear about this week.”

ColegauCymru and NTfW announce joint working arrangements

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) have announced joint working arrangements on public affairs, and are discussing the potential benefits of coming together as a single representative body for the post-16 education, training and skills sector in Wales.

The two organisations are currently in discussions on the feasibility of establishing a single organisation. They are expected to make a decision, in full consultation with the two organisations’ respective members, in summer 2016. A Project Board has been established to explore the issues and processes entailed in bringing the two organisations under one name.

In the meantime, both organisations have agreed to work together to influence the strategic policy on post-16 education and training, and they will jointly represent the post-16 education and training sector at the party political spring conferences.

Judith Evans, Chair of ColegauCymru, said: “Our aim is that, next year, there will be one organisation that provides a strong and coherent voice for the post-16 education, training and skills sector in Wales that will be the first point of contact for the Welsh Government and other agencies on the development and implementation of policy”.

Peter Rees, Chair of the NTfW Executive Board, said: “Both organisations seek to establish a powerful and sustainable body that will be efficient and effective in influencing the strategic framework, championing good practice and initiatives, and ultimately delivering a stronger post-16 education and training sector for Wales”.

Colleges to press on with protected budget

Further education colleges will press on with delivering for employers and the wider community of learners, following confirmation yesterday by the Welsh Government Finance Minister that the further education budget will be protected in 2016/17.

The educational charity that represents all of Wales’ colleges, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, noted that the Welsh Government has committed to protecting the further education budget in 2016/17 and has made a renewed commitment to part time higher education and apprenticeships.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Iestyn Davies, said: “Following a series of challenging budgets, including deep cuts to part time education for adults, we had asked the Welsh Government to take action to address the overall needs of post 16 education in its budget for 2016/17. Its response has been to provide some stability in further education funding, along with recognition of the value of part time higher education and apprenticeships to the Welsh economy.

“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. Colleges will now look forward to pressing on with the agenda of meeting the needs of Wales’ economy and society, and working hard to provide individuals with every opportunity possible to reach their potential.”

New Governance Code to establish trust in colleges for new era of independence

A new Code for further education colleges has been published to establish trust in their governance as they move into a new era of independence following legislation passed last year.

The Code, coordinated on behalf of the sector by educational charity ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, sets out the shared values and expectations of good college governance under their new legal status as not-for-profit institutions that exist to serve the public.

Wales’ colleges receive public funds and are responsible for investing those funds wisely; they respond to government’s priorities, but are not owned or managed by government. They deliver a public service, but are not owned by central or local government.

Colleges play a central role in supporting young people and adults to reach their goals, preparing them to take an active role in the economy and society through continued skills development. They also help shape democratic, sustainable and inclusive communities. These well-defined purposes allow governors and trustees, through constructive challenge and effective support, to demonstrate the public benefit of their work.

Chair of ColegauCymru, Judith Evans, said: “Governors are the backbone of college accountability and are the faithful custodians of public funds. They work hard to ensure the best interest of learners and, through this Code, wish to further demonstrate that that trust is well placed.

“Colleges are proud of their success and have worked hard to continue to deliver high quality teaching and learning within a context of constant high level change. Excellence in governance will continue to be of the highest importance as colleges become increasingly innovative and entrepreneurial in meeting the education and skills needs of Wales and responding to key economic and social agendas.

“By adopting and implementing this Code, governing bodies will publicly demonstrate their leadership and stewardship of their college as local not for profit institutions. In doing so, they will maintain and develop the trust that is key to working in partnership with learners, and businesses large and small.

“In addition, the new Code provides an opportunity to rethink and refresh approaches as the sector strives to be at the forefront of best practice in governance. It signals a willingness to enter into a new era with the energy and commitment to ensure the very highest standards for our stakeholders.”

The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, said: “The further education sector in Wales has responded positively to our agenda to transform post-16 education and training. In 2001 there were 26 further education colleges; there are now 14. Their number has reduced, but the result is more resilient and strategic colleges.

“I am pleased to see colleges continuing to work effectively. They now have greater freedoms but also face a number of challenges. The publication of this Code is an opportunity to reinforce colleges’ shared values and promote trust in their governance.

“The Code sets out the practices which colleges need to adopt to show they are conducting their business in the best interest of students and partners. But adoption of the Code should not limit innovation or stifle the dynamic nature of colleges.

“I look forward to seeing the adoption of the Code by college governing bodies across Wales.”


Fostering High Quality Vocational Further Education: ColegauCymru Response

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales welcomes a number of recommendations made in a new report on fostering high quality vocational further education in Wales, which point to the need for structural changes on a national level.

The report, Fostering High Quality Vocational Further Education in Wales published by the Public Policy Institute for Wales on 13 January 2016, calls for better national-level structures and systems that can identify and address the continuous professional development needs of staff who deliver vocational learning.

In a position that echoes ColegauCymru’s Manifesto, Skills for a Prosperous Nation, it also calls on the Welsh Government to work to reduce duplication of vocational provision in local areas.

The charity, which promotes vocational training, skills and lifelong learning, also acknowledges the limited work done in Wales to assess the training and support needs of the sector.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, Iestyn Davies, said: “Very little academic research has been done on the vocational education and training sector in Wales. Indeed, it is significant that the only longitudinal piece of research that the researchers had at their disposal was focused on England and published ten years ago. There is little primary academic research that captures the rapidly developing pedagogy developments in further education in Wales or the interface between colleges and secondary schools and employers.

“I am therefore particularly pleased that the Welsh Government’s Minister for Education, Huw Lewis, has taken a keen interest in the sector and commissioned initial research that can be used to inform Welsh Government policy.”

Iestyn Davies continued: “Colleges invest in developing a professional teaching and learning workforce and work collaboratively to share and improve practice on an ongoing basis. Indeed, the education inspectorate in Wales, Estyn, confirms that, overall, teaching and learning at colleges is good.

“The current Welsh Government has supported a number of teaching and learning developments over recent years. These developments have shown the way for other parts of the UK in the benefits of working collaboratively on pedagogy developments.”

“But there are a number of issues that need to be addressed on a more strategic level in order to move to a more efficient and effective system.

“What is currently missing are: a process that ensures that the teaching qualifications for vocational teachers in Wales are kept up to date; a national structure for mentoring newly qualified teachers in further education; and nationally recognised continuous professional development opportunities for vocational teachers, including structured opportunities for teachers to return to industry periodically, as ‘dual professionals’.

“We look forward to working with the recently established Education Workforce Council as well as with the Welsh Government in taking forward these issues.”