College News

College welcomes new chemistry lecturer

A new member of staff has joined the A-levels and Access programmes where he’s sharing his expertise in chemistry and science.

Dr James Vile teaches A-level chemistry, GCSE science, Welsh Baccalaureate and is the course tutor on the Access to Science programme. 

With a degree and PhD in chemistry, awarded by Cardiff University, Dr Vile has experience working extensively within the chemical industry at 3M Health Care and Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies.

Dr Vile is a passionate chemist who believes chemistry is of fundamental importance within society. “Chemistry is a fascinating subject that impacts our lives on a daily basis,” he said. “Society would not be as advanced as it is today without many of the major discoveries in chemistry such as fuels, plastics and green technology.”

He is an enthusiastic teacher who enjoys sharing his knowledge with his students.

Dr James Vile added: “Chemistry is a fun subject that allows learners to develop an understanding of how and why things work. There are many practical elements within the subject and learners are often treated to dramatic demonstrations within the classroom.

“Within the college there are relatively small class sizes which allows excellent working relationships to develop between staff and students which can only have a positive effect on achievement.”

Traditionally studied as an A-level subject, chemistry has been identified as a key facilitating subject by the Russell Group of elite universities. 

The study of chemistry is essential for those wanting to study key subjects such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science but also opens doors into a wide range of careers. 


Skills Cymru Carmarthenshire inspires next generation


Young people from across Carmarthenshire were given a taste of different career options at Skills Cymru Carmarthenshire, a regional careers fair featuring more than 100 employers, which took place during Apprenticeship Week at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli on the 9th and 10th March. 

Organised by Careers Wales and Coleg Sir Gâr, and supported by the Welsh Government and European Social Fund, the event was designed to inspire and educate visitors about the variety of different careers and vocational routes available to them.

More than 4,000 young people attended the free event over the two days, travelling from local schools and colleges including Maes y Gwendraeth, Coedcae, Coleg Sir Gâr Graig, Ysgol Bryngwyn, Bro Dinefwr, St John Lloyd and Strade. 

Members of the public also attended the event to find out more about their career options, vocational routes and apprenticeship courses with some of Wales’ biggest companies such as Welsh Water, Principality and Bluestone Leisure Resorts. 

Visitors were able to try their hand at virtual welding, creating short animations and driving a tractor using the Welsh Government’s state-of-the-art ‘have a go’ equipment, designed to increased participation in vocational pathways. Attendees also tested their vocational skills by taking part in a range of interactive activities offered by employers who attended the event, from giving manicures and styling hair to laying bricks and making exotic mocktails. 

Ffion Anderson, 15, from Maes y Gwendraeth school said: "I really enjoyed visiting the science stands such as the NHS Wales and Cardiff University Medical School because I'd really like to become a surgeon or a cardiologist when I'm older.

"It was great seeing the ultrasound equipment on the NHS stand, the pictures you can get are so clear it's amazing, it was so fascinating and made me realise I definitely want to go into the medical profession.

"I’m hoping to get into a Welsh university and study part of the course in the Welsh language, so it was useful to be able to talk to some people from the NHS about the sort of grades I'll need and extra activities that might help my application to medical school."

Minister for Skills and Science Julie James attended the event, talking to employers and apprentices about the career options they were there to promote, and taking part in some of the ‘have a go’ activities.

She said: “It was inspiring to see so many young people from across Carmarthenshire thinking about their futures and talking to some of the biggest employers in the country. 

“Those faced with choosing their next steps, whether it’s going to college, university or straight into the world of work, have big decisions to make and careers events like this help them to decide their future.

“Seeing some of Wales’ biggest employers attend the event demonstrates their commitment to investing in the future of Wales’s workforce, helping inspire the next generation to think about all pathways, including vocational routes into work.”

Richard Spear, chief executive of Careers Wales said: “Organising events like these is key to helping young people learn more about the many different jobs and careers they could pursue. 

“We often work with young people who are unsure about their next steps, not knowing what sector to go into. It’s our job to help them recognise what their skills are most suited towards and match their talents to a career. Careers events like SkillsCymru are a great opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with a huge variety of employers all in one place about what sort of qualifications and skills they look for, as well as asking apprentices about their course and experiences.”  

Barry Liles, Coleg Sir Gâr principal and Skills Champion for Wales, said: “We are extremely pleased with the fantastic opportunities afforded to so many young people from the county who visited Skills Cymru Carmarthenshire.

“The event highlighted the vast range of career opportunities available in the region and how to develop, with the college, skills required by employers.

“The event itself showed excellent partnership working between Careers Wales, Carmarthenshire County Council, Welsh Government, Coleg Sir Gâr and over 50 regional employers. I was pleased to accompany both our local AM, Lee Waters and the Minister for Skills and Science Julie James AM, around the event and illustrated how the college develops skills of a world-class standard - exemplified by students present who are currently representing the UK in WorldSkills competitions.”


Video (more to follow) Scroll from 5:30 to 8:30

Trainers to be recognised for the first time at the 10th annual VQ Awards


This year’s marks the 10th anniversary of the Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards, which celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success, will officially recognise the contribution of trainers for the first time. 

An award for trainer of the year joins the three existing award categories – employer of the year, intermediate learner of the year and higher level learner of the year.

The awards coincide with VQ Day on 7 June, a celebration of vocational qualifications for learners, trainers, and employers.

The new VQ Trainer of the Year Award recognises individual trainers who have made a telling contribution to supporting learners in the workplace to achieve excellence whilst also constantly improving their own skills and knowledge.

Linda Thomas, Coleg Sir Gâr’s chief hospitality lecturer and Sector Skills Champion, has welcomed the introduction of the new award.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “Trainers put in so many hours and so much hard work which isn’t seen by the public. We don’t do it for publicity, but it’s nice to be recognised. 

“I have always aspired to achieve the highest standards and encourage my learners to do the same. The person who will receive this new award means that they have reached a high standard.”

Linda is the mentor of star learner Elizabeth Forkuoh, 20, who not only won the VQ Learner of the Year Intermediate Award last year but also recently collected British Education Awards for Wales and Great Britain and is competing to represent the UK in restaurant services at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

Elizabeth is one of many learners, including Hannah Bagshaw who was selected for the WorldSkills UK squad in patisserie three years ago, who have benefited from Linda’s tutelage and passion for the hospitality industry.

During her 37-year-career Linda has been a pastry chef at some of London’s top hotels, including the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane and the Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge. She has also worked in Oman and been a product development chef for Bowyers in Plymouth.

She returned to Coleg Sir Gâr, where her training began 25 years ago, and uses her knowledge and excellent network of contacts in the hospitality industry to arrange placements for learners at five star hotels and restaurants across the UK.

Linda from Tumble near Llanelli, counts herself very fortunate to have been trained by “professional, dedicated and knowledgeable” tutors at Coleg Sir Gâr when she began her career and welcomed the creation of the new VQ award to recognise the contribution of trainers.

Reflecting on star learner Elizabeth’s achievements to date, she said it was obvious from the first time they met that she was a perfect competitor. “She is determined to succeed and in every single competition she has entered, she has won a gold medal. To win a British Education Award is a massive achievement,” she added

The VQ awards offer individuals and organisations the chance to be recognised and rewarded for their commitment, hard work and achievements. Nominations close on April 21 and the finalists in each category will be shortlisted and announced in early May. For more information about the awards and access to the nomination form please visit

The awards ceremony will be held at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff on 6 June, the eve of VQ Day on 7 June which is a celebration of vocational qualifications for learners, teachers, training providers and employers.

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

The awards are part funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund, Qualifications Wales, National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru/CollegesWales.  


Pic: Linda Thomas welcomes the new VQ Trainer of the Year Award.



School and college collaborate in arts project

Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art has been working with pupils from Maes y Morfa Primary School, in a ceramics project as part of an Arts Council of Wales initiative.

Art school lecturer Lindy Martin and former student Ami Marsden worked with children on artwork based the theme of happiness and led various workshops outside of the school and at the college where the final pieces of work were fired using special large kilns. 

Ceramicist Lindy Martin, said: “It’s been lovely to see the children working together, the journey has been inspiring.

“We took the pupils outside of their familiar surroundings and worked in various parts of the community, including working outside and they seemed to enjoy and build each other’s confidence to the point where I don’t think they realised they were even learning.” 

The project, which resulted in a permanent installation of ceramic totem poles at the school, is part of the Arts Council of Wales Creative Practitioners in Schools initiative, which aims to make creative skills a core feature in the education of children and young people across Wales.

Rhys Gravell, acting headteacher at Maes y Morfa Primary School said: “What an amazing journey and experience this has been for all the pupils involved in this project. They have developed so many skills and gone on a journey of self-discovery, developing friendships as well as working on the creative aspects of their work.”

Karen Evans, school project leader added: “The school now proudly displays the art produced for all the pupils, parents and wider community to see. We as a school also greatly value the aspects of the project that influenced pupil esteem, creativity, friendship and caring for each other.”


Picture - Children at Maes y Morfa Primary School with Carmarthen School of Art at Coleg Sir Gâr lecturer and ceramicist Lindy Martin with environmental artist and former art school student Ami Marsden.


Coaching Opportunities for Sports Degree Pair

Two sports coaching and performance students are getting the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches in the area thanks to the unique work-based learning element of Coleg Sir Gâr’s degree. 

Aled Waters is working with WRU development officers in Pembrokeshire where he’s been given the opportunity to work with the Scarlets west regional U16s squad while Rhodri Lewis is working with the rugby academy at Coleg Sir Gâr where he has been the backs coach for the academies development XV.  “It’s a huge opportunity for us both to work with elite players and coaches within the area and gives us a real insight into the industry,” said Aled.

Rhodri Lewis added: “The work-based learning opportunities is an excellent part of the course and has prepared us for the next stage of our careers after we graduate in July.”

Programme director Lee Tregoning is delighted with the progress of the two.  He said: “I am really pleased for both Aled and Rhodri and in fact all of our students, as this year we have over 40 students out on placements within the sports industry in West Wales, ranging from professional clubs, primary and secondary schools to grass roots community organisations.  

“Getting this type of experience is exactly what our course was designed to do and hopefully gives the students the skills needed to gain employment when their graduate.”


Brand new degrees in rugby and football coaching and performance

Two new courses specialising in football and rugby will be running at Coleg Sir Gâr this September* and will run alongside the college’s existing sports degree. 

The BSc honours in rugby coaching and performance and the BSc honours in football coaching and performance have been developed with local employers and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  The courses are current and meet the needs of businesses.

Career opportunities cover a wide variety of roles including coaching, sports development officers, sports analyst, PE teacher, strength and conditioning, and sports administrator.  

Both courses are available full-time or part-time and have strong links with elite professional teams such as the Scarlets and Swansea City FC.


Course details - BSc Honours in Football Coaching and Performance

Course detailsBSc Honours in Rugby Coaching and Performance


Apply full-time via UCAS (institution code C22) or through the college for part-time study 01554 748179 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  


*Subject to validation


Students get a taste of Army life

Students get a taste of Army life Public services students at Coleg Sir Gâr have been on a mission to complete a training course with the British Army.

A group of 19 students started their journey with nerves and anticipation as they prepared for a week of military training at Cwrt-y-Gollen Training Camp, Crickhowell.  

Being kitted-out Army style with heavy gear, rations and rifles, the group were put into two sections and spent the night outside where they were taught attacking formations which they put into practice on an enemy camp. After spending the night in the woods, they were straight onto an assault course, which the group found mentally, and physically challenging.

The experience taught discipline and teamwork with students commenting how the experience brought them together.  “It was hard but worth it,” said Cerys Maguire.  

Since facing their challenge, over half the group are now considering a military career.  “I didn’t think about joining the Army at all until I experienced this residential camp,” said Caitlin Freeman.

Public services lecturer, Jo Jones, who served in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Logistic Corps, said: “I’m so proud of the students putting 100% effort into the experience and for attacking it with a very positive and mature attitude.  It Has given them a significant insight into not only a military career but how the British Army operates, from combat techniques to the importance of teamwork and comradeship.” 

Student Leah Baulf added: “It was the best week of my life.”


Students receive political insight

Coleg Sir Gâr hosted a talk from a member of the House of Lords to give students an insight into the political and parliamentary process.

Lord Aberdare met with public services students, who as part of their course, learn about aspects of the legal system, the law-making process and government policies.

Public services lecturer, Carolann Healy, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out, as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.”

Students were able to grasp a thorough understanding of issues such as how a bill becomes an act, the roles of the House of Lords in relation to the House of Parliament, how members are appointed and how government is positively influenced by members.

The visit was arranged through the Lord Speaker’s Peers in Schools programme, which has been running across the UK since 2007 and has so far involved around 75,000 young people.  This continuing outreach programme sends members of the House of Lords into schools/academies and colleges across the country to give talks in support of the citizenship curriculum.  


For further information, please refer to the Lord Speaker’s web page at 


College awarded for staff development initiative

Coleg Sir Gâr, in Llanelli, has received a national award for excellence in staff development in further education, which was presented at an event held in Westminster, London. 

The Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award, sponsored by City & Guilds, was given for the innovative nature of a teaching and learning initiative which included extensive research into teaching practices at the college scheme, and using peer observations to create a culture of improvement, supported by high-quality staff development initiatives. Members of staff are encouraged to identify their own areas for development and there are options for one-to-one or group support.

The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges. They reward colleges that go above and beyond in providing high-quality technical and professional education. Award winners must also offer something exceptional to students and the wider community.

Barry Liles, Principal at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “The college is delighted to win this prestigious award. 

“It demonstrates our continued commitment to excellence in teaching a learning and recognises the hard work of leaders and teachers at the institution.”

Catherine Bush, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at City & Guilds, said: “City & Guilds is delighted to make the award for Staff Development to Coleg Sir Gâr. This was a very thorough programme, which provides an excellent pathway for support and development. There are very clear benefits to staff both on a professional and a personal level and this is translated into benefits for teaching and learning throughout the college. 

“It was evident that the programme had made a real contribution to a culture that is focused on self-improvement, building confidence and high-quality teaching and learning.  The positive impact that the programme had made for individual teachers in their careers and personal development was extremely impressive.”

Dame Pat Bacon, Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, said: “Coleg Sir Gâr is an outstanding representative of the excellent work happening in colleges across the country. It’s a privilege to be part of an awards programme that recognises the energy colleges put into supporting their students, staff, employers and local communities.”

Mike Davis, Chief Assessor for the AoC Beacon Awards, said: “The high standard of submissions to the AoC Beacon Awards often makes it very hard for the judges to choose the winners. Coleg Sir Gâr can be proud to receive this award for demonstrating its commitment to create the best possible experience for its students.”

The college received its certificate from David Hughes, Chief Executive of AoC.

Ritz experience for hospitality student

A Coleg Sir Gâr hospitality and leadership student has been perfecting her skills in fine dining and a service fit for royalty at The Ritz hotel in London.

Elizabeth Forkhuoh from Llanelli, visited The Ritz as part of her training with WorldSkills where she is currently training in Squad UK, hoping to be selected to compete in the restaurant services category in Abu Dhabi this year.

Under the guidance of restaurant manager Luigi Cagnin, Elizabeth learned carving techniques using salmon, poultry, chateaubriand and Dover sole as well as discovering how dishes such as steak tartar are prepared in lavish Ritz style.

Elizabeth Forkuoh, who this year won a British Education Award, said: “I was amazed how polite and well presented the staff were at all times and how impeccable the service was, I immediately felt like royalty when I arrived.

“We experienced a traditional afternoon tea in the spectacular Palm Court, surrounded by high mirrored walls, birdcage chandeliers and a soaring floral display. 

“The deputy manager of Palm Court which serves 400 covers a day, also known as Ritz tea master Giandomenico Scanu, explained how he pairs different teas to the customer and food, similarly as does a wine sommelier.”

Elizabeth, who works part-time at the Stradey Park Hotel is studying an NVQ at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Pibwrlwyd campus in Carmarthen where she started her competition journey where she also completed qualifications in professional cookery and professional food and beverage skills with merit and distinction grades.  


Coleg Sir Gâr hospitality and leadership student Elizabeth Forkuoh at a training placement at The Ritz in London.




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