Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Students in Wales Have 70m Reasons to Celebrate: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Students in Wales Have 70m Reasons to Celebrate: Fe News

Article excerpt

Huge investment in FE delivers new campuses in deprived areas.

Students in two of the most deprived areas of Wales have started the term in new multi-million-pound college campuses as part of an investment in FE of more than Pounds 70 million.

The former coal mining town of Nantgarw in Rhondda Cynon Taff has seen the largest single investment in FE in Wales, with Coleg Morgannwg's Pounds 40 million campus opening its doors to 3,000 students this month.

In Blaenau Gwent, the Pounds 33.5 million Learning Zone campus has opened on a former steelworks site in the town of Ebbw Vale, giving thousands of students access to education and training.

Both colleges hope to entice local students with a range of vocational and academic courses and advanced facilities, and will support efforts to boost their local economies.

The Nantgarw campus, made possible through a mix of Welsh government and European funding, has already led to a threefold increase in applications to Coleg Morgannwg for the 2012-13 academic year. In addition to traditional vocational courses, Coleg Morgannwg is now the largest provider of AS and A levels in the area, with 24 subjects on offer as well as the skills-led Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.

It is also the only college in Wales to offer the Welsh government's Pathways to Apprenticeship scheme in science following the creation of five new science labs at Nantgarw.

"This is the first time in Rhondda Cynon Taff we have been able to have the breadth of the curriculum in one building," said principal Judith Evans. "Before this development our students would have had to have travelled between schools to get this sort of offer. There are some highly deprived wards in the area we serve, and we want to make sure all students who come to us have the same opportunities.

"We have to make sure that our students understand they are just as good as anybody else and they can achieve. …

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