Education in Wales is compulsory from the ages of four to 16. Many students continue their education after age 16, pursuing an academic or vocational certification, usually the Welsh Baccalaureate.
Cardiff is home to around 125 schools, about seven of which are independent (private) schools. All schools are regularly assessed by a national organisation known as Estyn. Inspection results can be viewed online.
Government schools in Cardiff
Parents moving to Cardiff will have a good range of government schools to choose from. Many of Cardiff's best schools are government schools. The good news is that these can be attended free of charge.
Wales is currently in the process of rolling out a revamped curriculum, beginning with all nursery and elementary students. The rollout is planned to continue year by year until 2026, by which point all students will be under the new curriculum.
Welsh is taught as part of the curriculum. There are both English-language and Welsh-language schools in Cardiff.
Cardiff bases admission priority on a catchment system, so it's wise for those with school-age children to keep this in mind when selecting an area or suburb to live in. While living in a catchment area doesn't guarantee entry to a particular school, those living locally are prioritised over children who live further away.
The structure and location of catchment areas aren't always straightforward so it's best to check Cardiff's official website to find out about catchment area boundaries.
Independent schools in Cardiff
Private schools, also known as independent schools, generally offer the same curriculum as government schools, though some use alternative teaching styles and philosophies.
Not all independent schools teach the national curriculum, though. Students at the Cardiff Steiner School, for instance, graduate not with the Welsh Baccalaureate but with the Certificate of Steiner Education.
Unlike government schools, independent schools in Cardiff charge tuition fees, which can be quite pricey.
International schools in Cardiff
Though there are no schools in Cardiff teaching the curriculum of a foreign country, there are a handful that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB).
This includes Westbourne School, located in Cardiff, and UWC Atlantic College, situated in the Vale of Glenmorgan, about 30 minutes west of Cardiff. UWC Atlantic College not only offers the IB but was instrumental in its development in the 1960s.
Special-needs education in Cardiff
In Wales, special-needs education is called Additional Learning Needs (ALN). All schools in Cardiff are allocated funding for the purposes of supporting ALN students with resources such as educational psychologists and specialist teachers.
Children who require more support may undergo a Statutory Assessment conducted by the Cardiff council. The final report will include recommendations to improve the student's experience, either in their current school or in another educational environment more suited to their needs.
Tutors in Cardiff
Tutors can be immensely useful for newly arrived families in Cardiff, especially when it comes to getting help to catch up with a new school's curriculum or spending some extra time learning Welsh. Parents also often hire tutors in the run-up to big exams, or to tackle a problem subject.
The best way to find a tutor is often to ask around locally, speaking to fellow parents or school teachers for recommendations. There are also plenty of online tutoring companies, which offer a wide selection of tutors, including those with specialised knowledge or experience.