Cardiff High School

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Cardiff High School
Motto Tua'r Goleuni
(Welsh: "Toward the Light")
Established 1895 (Creation of earliest of predecessor schools)
Type Public (magnet) secondary
Headmaster Stephen Jones
Location Llandennis Road
Students 1650 (approx.)
Gender Mixed
Ages Year 7–Year 13 (up to 18 years of age)

Cardiff High School (Welsh: Ysgol Uwchradd Caerdydd) is a comprehensive school in the Cyncoed area of Cardiff, Wales. Cardiff High School is four miles from the city centre, serving a neighbourhood of privately owned houses.


Although the school was established in its current form in 1970, its origins go back much further to the foundations of the three schools that merged to form the present school.

City of Cardiff High Schools

City of Cardiff High School for Girls was opened in January 1895 in the Parade, Cardiff,[1] and City of Cardiff High School for Boys was opened in September 1898 in Newport Road, Cardiff.[2] Both were created under the terms of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889 and therefore were originally called Cardiff Intermediate School for Girls and Cardiff Intermediate School for Boys respectively.

From 1905, secondary school education in Cardiff was largely provided through a system of Municipal Secondary Schools[3] that were organised under the Education Act 1902.[2] Although the Intermediate Schools were both rebranded as high schools in 1911 (thus the schools became Cardiff High School for Girls and Cardiff High School for Boys) they suffered in comparison with the municipal secondary schools because of their entrance examinations and later their fees, particularly after the municipal secondary schools abolished fees in 1924.

The working-class intake of the schools was limited because parents were deterred by the fees, only partly made up by scholarships and bursaries, and later by the regime and curriculum of the grammar school.[2] When the United Kingdom Government passed the Education Act 1944, the Tripartite System was established, dividing secondary schools into three categories, the grammar school, the secondary technical school and the secondary modern school. The grammar school was deemed the place of education for the academically gifted (as determined by the eleven plus exam), and the high schools were selected to become the grammar schools (hence, the informal term Cardiff Grammar School applied to both).

The boys' school had from an early stage suffered with a constricted site on Newport Road. Within three years of its foundation, a new site acquired in 1901 on the corner of Corbett Road and Park Place, but the school eventually stayed on its original site, with a new school opened in 1910 and further extensions in 1931–32.[2]

Ty Celyn Secondary Modern School

Ty Celyn Secondary Modern was created as a result of the Education Act 1944, fulfilling the requirement of a secondary modern school as determined by the Act's Tripartite System (the 'Grammar School' element met by the Cardiff High Schools).

Cardiff High School formed by merger

The present-day school was established in 1970 as a mixed 11–18 comprehensive school following the merger of the two single-sex grammar schools and the Ty Celyn Secondary Modern School. From 1967 to 1970, the school had served as a senior high school in Cardiff's unified junior/senior system where pupils attended a junior high school from 11 to 13 (the former secondary moderns) before transferring to a senior high school of their choice (only if their intention was to remain in education to 18).

The school was unified on a single site in 1973. The Newport Road site of the former High School was eventually sold to fund an extension to Willows High School in Tremorfa, Cardiff.

The accommodation in 1973 consisted of the old Ty Celyn School Llandennis Road, Cardiff, with a new building attached, designed for six form entry. A considerable amount of internal alteration and refurbishment has been carried out on the original building, funded by the School over the past 25 years.

Cardiff High School became a seven form entry school in September 1998, when a third feeder primary school, Roath Park, was added to the two existing feeder schools, Lakeside and Rhydypenau. As of 2007, it has a total pupil roll of 1447, of whom 377 are following 'AS and A' level courses in the sixth form.

The school enjoys an extremely high level of parental interest and support. The establishment of a new Cardiff High Partnership with parents in 1998 both built on the strong, existing Parents' Association links, and launched new initiatives, including a covenant scheme. It also expanded the range of educational, social and fundraising activities.

According to the latest inspection report by Estyn, the school has a pass rate of 80% (based on 5 GCSEs, grades A-C), so the school is currently ranked in joint fifth place in Wales with Eirias High School in Colwyn Bay. It is ranked second place in Cardiff, behind the Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School.


The school is equipped to cater for eight form entry. Now, all departments are suited into adjacent rooms. The school also has the following:

  • 11 Science labs
  • 5 Design & Technology rooms
  • 5 IT rooms
  • A Home Economics suite including Catering kitchen and Textile rooms
  • A Sports Hall, Gymnasium, Dance Studio, Conditioning Suite, 3G pitch and all weather pitch
  • A Learning Resources Centre (library with attached IT room)
  • A creative area incorporating recording studio, IT room, music rooms
  • Theatre study facilities
  • A hall for performance
  • Learning Hub equipped with iPads with tiered seating
  • Outdoor Classroom
  • Nurture Room
  • Ty Celyn 6th Form Centre
  • A dining hall and canteen
  • Facilities for disabled pupils
  • Self Contained Conference Suite


Whilst the school is proud of its record of academic achievement, it also places great emphasis on other important features of pupil development, including extra-curricular activities, theatrical and musical opportunities, recreational sports and community links.

The ex-headmaster Michael Griffiths (1997–2011) took a personal interest in the pupils' experiences of Art and Culture including leading the 2009 visit for 1,100 students to a performance of Madame Butterfly by the Welsh National Opera in the Wales Millennium Centre.[4] The school has become well known for the quality of its theatrical productions, with the 2010 production of Les Miserables attracting many "rave reviews" from local media.[5]

Cardiff High School's Mathematics department, led by Rhiannon Bill until 2011, has particularly flourished recently with Cardiff High School winning first place year upon year in the University of Glamorgan Mathematics Quiz and sending many Mathematics and Further Mathematics A-Level students to Oxford and Cambridge.[6][7] All departments in Cardiff High School promote interdepartmental study; students from the mathematics department recently assisted staff at Cardiff Castle calculating optimum angles and range of the newly acquired trebuchet.[8] In 2014, the year 8 and year 9 students won the Welsh Regional Final of the UKMT 2014 Team Maths Challenge and came in 5th place in the National Final held in London.

In a developing European scene, programmes for pupils' exchange visits with their German counterparts are well established. The school also has a rich international dimension, with students from many parts of the world currently studying at the school. The school believes strongly in the principle of continuous self-improvement, and to this end has introduced a considerable number of new initiatives in recent years, all designed to improve the quality of educational provision.

A key objective for the last four years[when?] has been the promotion of effective teaching and learning strategies, which has helped improve value added performance at each key stage. The various INSET programmes organised by the school enabled internationally renowned educationalists to deliver whole-school INSET on teaching and learning, linked closely to subsequent dialogue and discourse at departmental level. The senior management team plays a key quality assurance role by managing an annual departmental review and departmental self-review process. In addition, great emphasis is placed on the generation and analysis of quantitative data to both set challenging targets and critically analyse results retrospectively. Each senior manager is linked to a cluster of departments (which meets twice-termly) to enable two way consultation and communication to take place between all staff.

ESTYN Report 2007

Cardiff High School was awarded Grade 1 in all seven areas – the highest grade achievable – having been led by the headmaster Michael Griffiths since 1997. The following are extracts from the report:

  • "Results in external examinations are outstanding. They have been consistently very good year on year."
  • "Leadership of high quality provides clear direction and promotes high standards."
  • "Results in all core subjects were above local and national figures."
  • "In both key stages, almost all pupils of differing abilities, including those with SEN, achieve extremely well regardless of their social, ethnic or linguistic background."
  • "Teachers are highly qualified, motivated and passionate about their work. They have outstanding subject knowledge. They use this knowledge and understanding well to monitor closely pupils’ progress. They provide high quality teaching and learning during the school day and as part of the extensive out-of-hours’ learning programme."

In Popular Culture

Cardiff High School has been the site of filming for multiple episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, a Doctor Who spin-off show during 2008. Episodes featuring Cardiff High School include "Revenge of the Slitheen" and "The Lost Boy".[9]

Notable former pupils

Famous former pupils include:

External links


  1. "Archives Network Wales – Glamorgan Record Office – City of Cardiff High School for Girls records". Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Archives Network Wales – Glamorgan Record Office – City of Cardiff High School for Boys records". Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Municipal Secondary Schools included Howard Gardens, which had been established in 1898, Canton established in 1907 and Cathays.
  4. "Opera visit causes quite a flutter". 6 November 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Gareth Evans (9 March 2010). "Wales Online – Praise Heaped On School Performance of Les Miserables". Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Glamorgan University News – 6th Form Maths Pop Quiz Results 2008[dead link]
  7. "Glamorgan University News – 6th Form Maths Pop Quiz Results 2007". 2 November 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Julia McWatt (20 March 2010). "Cardiff Castle aims for a hit with new catapult". Wales Online. Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Dr Who Locations Guide – Cardiff High School". Retrieved 11 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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