Jonathan Morgan, Vice Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd

One of South Wales’ largest further education colleges, @ColegyCymoedd, has unveiled a series of new developments resulting from over £4 million of investment at its Rhondda campus.

Learners arriving on campus after months of remote learning returned to find an entire wing comprising a new fully equipped workshop and craft room, a purpose-built restaurant and advanced culinary training facility, modern shower and changing facilities for its sports field, as well as a dedicated room designed to help learners develop independent living skills. A modern multi-purpose learner experience hall, which will be used for a variety of courses, has also been built and will be made available for private hire once the easing of restrictions allow.

The investments, part-funded by Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme, form part of the college’s plans to continually invest in new facilities and equipment that will allow learners across its catchment area to have access to the latest training opportunities and career paths.

Carolyn Donegan, Campus Director at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus, said: “It’s an exciting time at the college as we unveil the hard work that has been put into creating new facilities for our staff, learners and the wider Rhondda community.

“What started off as a refurbishment of our campus has since grown into a large-scale project to further enhance teaching provisions, enrich the curriculum and modernise the college facilities. The aim is to continue providing a high standard of teaching and training for many years to come, and in doing so, ensure that learners, both present and future, excel in their studies and training.”

Vocational Access learners studying electric installations, carpentry and plumbing now have access to their own purpose-built workshop, which provides them with the space, tools, and resources they need to gain industry-standard training that will help them excel in their trades.

For arts and crafts learners, a dedicated room has been opened for in-person teaching and to enable them to carry out their own crafts projects, from basket making to woodwork.

To ensure that Coleg y Cymoedd’s provisions for learners with additional learning needs (ALN) meet the standards set out by Welsh Government’s ALN Bill, the college has revealed a new dedicated room for Independent Living Skills (ILS). The room will feature an imitation residential flat with a fully functioning kitchen and home appliances so that they can grow their confidence living independently through hands-on activities.

The college has also unveiled a new commercial culinary training facility and commercial grade kitchen and restaurant. In a nod to the region’s mining history and the year that work began on the project, the restaurant has been named ‘Colliery 19’ and will feature coal mine inspired décor with a modern twist. All food will be prepared and served by learners studying all levels of catering courses, from introductory to advanced qualifications, under the guidance of professional chefs and front of house staff. As lockdown restrictions ease and in line with government guidelines, Colliery-19 will open its doors to the general public in the near future.

Looking ahead, Coleg y Cymoedd has further plans to enhance training and learning opportunities for learners at the Rhondda campus by converting the current on-site retail space into a student-run enterprise that will provide them with the opportunity to gain work experience and boost their enterprising skills. The multi-purpose space will offer a variety of uses including a catering outlet for learners to develop their skills and gain retail experience, an area for learners to sell their creations from patisserie to carpentry, as well as a location to sell refreshments during events at the college theatre.

The space will also act as an extension of the college’s facilities provisions for learners with additional learning needs and for those wanting to develop independent living skills, offering them the opportunity to develop their skills and practice what they have learnt in the classroom in a realistic work environment.

In a bid to provide more benefits to the wider Rhondda community, as well as learners and staff, the campus also boasts a new multi-use learner experience hall which, once fully operational and as restrictions ease, will be made available to the local community for private functions. New shower and changing block facilities have also been created at the campus’ sports field, which will be open to members of the public wanting to use the space for sporting events and activities. Local teams such as the Rhondda Miners Ladies rugby team have already taken advantage of the new facilities and will be using the field as a training ground for their players.

Jonathan Morgan, Vice Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “The college is dedicated to developing its facilities and teaching provisions. The investments at the Rhondda campus highlight our continued work to ensure we provide a high-quality learning experience for young people in the region.

“They are a key part of our commitment to increasing provisions for learners with additional learning needs, above and beyond requirements, and will also enable us to expand the curriculum to offer higher level qualifications in various disciplines. This means that learners will be able to progress their chosen education route at one campus, something we were not previously able to offer.”

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