So why is Cardiff Sixth Form College the top school in the UK?
Cardiff Sixth Form College has been ranked the top independent school in the UK over the past eleven years with 99% of students achieving A*-A grades and 100% A*-B in 2020. Seventeen students went onto Oxbridge and 50% to the G5 universities with 76% going onto QS Top 100 universities worldwide. This year, 33 students have gone onto study medicine, 35 to study economics, business and finance, nine to study law, 23 natural sciences and 27 engineering and architecture.
So how does the school achieve such outstanding results? Group Marketing and Admissions Director, Henrietta Lightwood comments, “Here at Cardiff the teaching staff are all highly experienced with many having been examiners or inspectors in other schools. We have lots of bright pupils who want to be inspired by passionate teachers and having worked in education for 16 years I have never worked with such dedicated teaching staff. They are highly respected by our pupils, offer one to one support on a daily basis, organise tutorials and academic enrichment on top of their extensive teaching programme and have a huge library of academic source material for our students to use.”
The school also provides excellent careers guidance and support to help students who are aiming high. There is a designated careers team at the college who organises work experience placements with firms such as British Aerospace, the Bank of England, the Institute of Medical Genetics and organises mock trials at Cardiff Law Courts. In addition, the college organises international work experience programmes in India, Tanzania, Malaysia and Europe every year. There are careers societies running on a weekly basis specialising in subjects such as healthcare, finance and management, architecture, engineering and law where speakers from industry talk to the Cardiff students about their specialised fields.
“We run skills-based programmes such as the Young Enterprise Scheme and Young Tycoons award for those interested in business and economics careers and give our students opportunities to develop leadership and team-working skills. Debating, Model United Nations and Essay writing competitions help students demonstrate their communication skills which are so important not just at university but for students in their careers beyond formal education,” adds Mrs Lightwood. “We also equip our students with study skills such as critical thinking and research through pre-university courses, Ted Talks, undertaking extended research projects in areas they find particularly interesting. This makes our students very attractive to universities not just in the UK but worldwide.”
Cardiff also places great emphasis on university preparation and every student has an individual programme supervised by a personal tutor. This starts the first week a student joins Cardiff and encompasses guidance on the UCAS process, courses and modules, writing personal statements, university entrance exam preparation, interview preparation, subject specific talks and curriculum based trips.
“Finding the right course and university demands a lot of research and commitment,” says Mrs Lightwood. “There are 107 universities in the UK and many of our students want help applying to US, Canadian, Australian, Asian or European universities who may run specific courses. This means our staff have to be extremely knowledgeable and develop excellent relationships with university admissions teams across the globe so that they have the knowledge and expertise to help students make the right choices for the next step in their educational careers.”
There is also a wide range of extra-curricular clubs and activities on offer for students at Cardiff giving students the opportunity to enjoy and develop their talents in sport, music, art and drama. The spectacular scenery around Cardiff in the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire makes Duke of Edinburgh expeditions very popular and the College has had much success in debating competitions with three out of five students in the Welsh International Debating Team being Cardiff Sixth Form College students. Others have taken part in the NASA Space Settlement Design Competition run by Imperial College where they regularly make the finals and indeed have won the international competition five times resulting in the winning students visiting Florida.
“Cardiff Sixth Form College is a really warm and friendly community” said Mrs Lightwood. “The whole school is involved in sports day, our Talent Show — run at the professional Millennium Theatre in Cardiff — our GLEE theatre production and our sensational Cultural Event. With 45 different nationalities at the school it is a real spectacle as many of our students dress up in national costume and enjoy an Oscar-style awards ceremony with the students providing the entertainment. We have some amazing musicians, dancers and sportsmen and women at the college and many of our students are really multi-talented. It is certainly a place where people make friends for life as they live together and make very close bonds.”
Facilities at this top school are also excellent. Every student has their own ensuite bedroom in university-style accommodation complete with common rooms, kitchens, music practice rooms, art rooms and fully staffed medical centre. There are extremely well-equipped laboratories, study areas, lecture rooms, library and computer facilities as well as a stunning top floor canteen that serves a wide range of world foods. Right in the centre of the capital city of Cardiff, the college is modern, urban and vibrant and is not afraid to develop.
“Cardiff Sixth Form College is part of Dukes Education which is one of the largest educational groups in the UK,” shares Mrs Lightwood. “We have a very dynamic and experienced senior management team who makes fast decisions and reacts quickly to changing environments. We are growing extensively however providing top quality education is vitally important for us. Therefore, we don’t want to be complacent and are always researching top teaching methods and innovative practices that we can incorporate to keep Cardiff Sixth Form College one of the top schools in the world.”