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The Best Secondary Schools in Cardiff: An Up-to-date Guide

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If your child is close to transitioning out of primary, you’ll be looking for the best place for them to continue their education. With a whole host of secondary schools to choose from in Cardiff, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve done your homework for you and have come up with our guide to the best secondary schools in Cardiff.

How is the best secondary school in Cardiff decided?


There are a few key things that we need to consider when ranking secondary schools in Cardiff. Firstly, it’s important to consider performance data which usually comes in the form of exam results.

Once we’ve got the statistics, we can also look at Estyn ratings. The word Estyn means ‘to reach out’ or ‘to stretch’ in Welsh and their reports focus on outlining how well schools are encouraging pupils to learn. In the past, they used a grading system with gradings like ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘adequate’. Now the focus is on detailing how well schools encourage pupils to learn. 🚀

What are the best state secondary schools in Cardiff?

Cardiff High School

In their Estyn inspection in March 2019, Cardiff High School was found to be an exceptional school. The knowledgeable and imaginative teaching staff deliver engaging lessons that inspire pupils to think creatively. The school was found to be excellent in all areas, with students receiving care, support and guidance of the highest quality. The school is incredibly diverse, adding to its rich culture, and the demand for places is high.🏇


With consistently high exam results, the school boasts high achievement with over 90.3% of pupils achieving more than 5 GCSEs at Grade A* -C. The school also offers A-levels, with 85% of students going on to study at university. 

Bishop of Llandaff Church In Wales High School

This top-performing school was rated ‘excellent’ in all areas in its 2018 Estyn report. It offers outstanding teaching which creates extremely positive student attitudes to learning. Students are challenged and supported and this undoubtedly leads to excellent achievement in examinations, with 84.6% of students achieving 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C.

The school has a dedicated teaching facility called the Marion Centre which is a Specialist Resource Base for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Here, eight small classes provide a supportive learning environment where students can work towards reaching their full social and academic potential as well as learning valuable life skills.🛠️

Radyr Comprehensive School

Radyr Comprehensive is another high-performing school that has consistently good exam results. With 79.9% of students achieving 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C, it is also a sought-after school. Students mainly come from the north-west of Cardiff but others travel from outside the city to attend. In their 2016 Estyn inspection, the school was seen to have good performance and outcomes, and offers a good level of care, support and guidance to its pupils.🤝

These rankings for the best state schools in Cardiff are based on GCSE exam results and findings from Estyn reports.


School

Students achieving 5+ GSCEs at grade A*-C (national average 56.6%)

Pupils

  1. Cardiff high school

90.3

1769

2. Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales School

84.6

1239 

3. Radyr Comprehensive School

79.9

1290

4. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf

77.2

1328

5. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern

66.7

881

6. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr

72.6

1146

7. Whitchurch High School

75.1

2416

8. Llanishen High School

67.2

1632

9. St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School

62.2

1427

10. Fitzalan High School

60.2

1790



What are the best private secondary schools in Cardiff?

In addition to high-achieving state schools, Cardiff is also home to some excellent independent schools.

Cardiff Sixth Form College

Founded as a small tutorial college, Cardiff Sixth Form College has grown to become a diverse teaching and learning environment, welcoming over 30 different nationalities to its classrooms. It boasts outstanding results, with 88.8% of students achieving GCSE grades A*/A in 2022. Their A-level results are equally impressive, with 94.7% of A-level students achieving grades A*-A. Naturally, such high achievement makes it a springboard to top universities around the globe.🌍

St John’s College  

Named the Top Independent School in Wales for Academic Outcomes 2022, St John’s College boasts exceptional exam results across the board. It has a strong Catholic ethos but also welcomes students from a variety of faiths. With small classes and year groups, it offers students the opportunity to think independently and embrace their unique skills. In 2022, 88% of students achieved A*/A in GCSEs and 82% of students received grade A*/A in A-levels. With small classes and a broad curriculum, it offers excellent opportunities for learning.

Howell’s School Llandaff

Howell’s School is an all-girls school in Llandaff. The school has a nurturing approach and offers a varied curriculum that embraces the arts and foreign languages. They believe that success should be measured by a person’s influence on the world rather than grades. That said, their results are not to be sniffed at. In 2022, 73% achieved A*/A in GCSE exams, and 61% of students achieved A-A* grades at A-level

Other good independent schools in Cardiff:

  • Cardiff Academy 
  • Cathedral School Llandaff 
  • Cardiff Steiner School
  • Kings Monkton School

Whether you’re looking for somewhere with the best exam results or trying to find the most nurturing environment for your child to continue their education, the best secondary schools in Cardiff have a lot to offer. 

In the meantime, if you think your child would benefit from some extra support in a specific subject, let GoStudent help you out. Our expert tutors can create lessons that challenge and encourage your child and help them achieve their potential. 🦅

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