Cardiff High School

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Cardiff High School
Llandennis Road

TypePublic (magnet) secondary
MottoTua'r Goleuni
(Welsh: "Toward the Light")
Established1895 (Creation of earliest of predecessor schools)
HeadmasterStephen Jones
AgeYear 7 to Year 13 (up to 18 years of age)
Enrolment1650 (approx.)

Cardiff High School (Welsh: Ysgol Uwchradd Caerdydd) is a comprehensive school in the Cyncoed area of Cardiff, Wales. Stephen Jones has been Headteacher since 2011. Rated as Excellent for current performance and Excellent for prospects for improvement by Estyn (2013) the school achieved its highest ever results in 2016 with a record breaking 92% of students achieving Level 2+ (5 GCSEs including English and Mathematics) and a 100% achieving at least 5 GCSEs.[citation needed]


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[edit]

Cardiff high school, Cardiff - - 40257.jpg

City of Cardiff High School for Girls was opened in January 1895 in the Parade, Cardiff,[1] with Mary Collin as its first headmistress,[2] and City of Cardiff High School for Boys was opened in September 1898 in Newport Road, Cardiff.[3] 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[4] that were organised under the Education Act 1902.[3] 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.[3] 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 11-plus), 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.[3]

Ty Celyn Secondary Modern School[edit]

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[edit]

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 has been carried out on the original building. An extension was completed in December 2013 which added a state of the art multi purpose space; Neuadd Celyn which is used for dramatic and theatrical performances, new Music classrooms and [sound proofed] practice areas, a suite of History classrooms, Art Classrooms.

In 2014, the Sixth Form Centre [relocated] to Ty Celyn and was renovated to provide a designated centre exclusively for sixth form students. TY Celyn houses the Sixth Form Achievement Team, including Head of School, Achievement Leaders, UCAS co-ordinator and Sixth Form administrator as well as providing study facilities, recreational, and relaxation space for sixth form students.

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. In 2011, Marlborough Primary was added as a fourth feeder school as the school increased to an eight form intake. As of 2016, it has a total pupil roll of 1635, of whom 450 are 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 is rated as Excellent and, 'the standards achieved by pupils are consistently very high and well above expectations.' Cardiff High School is a Green Category school and in Standards Group 1. It was also ranked Number 1 in the most recent Real Schools Guide. In 2016, GCSE and A level results were record breaking for the school and placed Cardiff High School as the top achieving school in both the city and across all of Wales for the third year running based on the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades including Mathematics and English.


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


  • The school has been criticised for its use of a traditional education program. Despite a growing change among other Cardiff-based schools for a more modern/progressive education system, Cardiff high has stuck with a classical education system that has been regarded as stressful for students.
  • Learning and Teaching is at the heart of Cardiff High School and the school places great emphasis on the ethos of 'learning together'. The philosophy of learning and teaching at Cardiff High School is that learning should be challenging, engaging, and have impact for all. Growth Mindset and the ability to learn from mistakes is central to the thinking of staff and students alike at the school.
  • The school regularly welcomes international visitors and has hosted parties from both Norway and Denmark in recent years.
  • 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 school has become has prioritized quality of its musical performances and theatrical productions and recent productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd and Les Misérables receiving the highest praise from all who have attended. The annual Christmas Carol Concert highlights the importance of the school in the local community and is attended by staff, parents and community members alike.
  • Sporting excellence and opportunity for all is promoted at Cardiff High School and the school has a healthy number of extra-curricular sporting teams. Pupils regularly receive international honours across a wide range of sports such as Rugby, Football, Netball, Athletics and Cross Country. The school can count among its recent successes the Senior Boys winning the Welsh Cup in Football (2015-2016) and the Senior Girls success in Netball in the President's Cup. Participation, improvement and achievements are celebrated at the annual Sports Personality awards evening; which was attended in 2016 by Cardiff City Footballer, Aron Gunnarsson.
  • A key objective for the school is the continued drive to raise standards of learning and teaching at all level through the promotion and development of effective teaching and learning strategies. The various INSET programs organised by the school enabled internationally renowned educationalist to deliver whole-school INSET on teaching and learning, linked closely to subsequent dialogue and discourse and departmental level. Over the last few years, celebrated international educationalists such as Bill Rogers and Sir John Jones have visit ed the school and worked with staff. The school works consistently to improve leadership at all levels across the school so that every member of staff has the opportunity to develop personally and professionally.

In popular culture[edit]

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 and 2010. Episodes featuring Cardiff High School include "Revenge of the Slitheen", "The Lost Boy" and "The Nightmare Man".[5]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Famous former pupils include:

Uniform Policy[edit]

For all years, excluding the sixth form, it uses a gender-based uniform policy. Female students are expected to wear a red uniform while males are expected to wear a more black-focused uniform. This gender specific policy also said to occur in the school sixth form since all genders are denied to wear shorts or "cut-off" trousers while allowing skirts, which is a policy that has caused protests among other Cardiff-based schools.

The uniform reflects the fact it is a classic school which does not wish to change from its old styled school reputation.


  1. ^ "Archives Network Wales – Glamorgan Record Office – City of Cardiff High School for Girls records". 1895. Retrieved 11 December 2013.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "unknown". Welsh Newspapers Online. South Wales Daily News. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Archives Network Wales – Glamorgan Record Office – City of Cardiff High School for Boys records". 1895. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  4. ^ Municipal Secondary Schools included Howard Gardens, which had been established in 1898, Canton established in 1907 and Cathays.
  5. ^ "Dr Who Locations Guide – Cardiff High School". Retrieved 11 December 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′03″N 3°10′29″W / 51.51754°N 3.1748°W / 51.51754; -3.1748