Cardiff Sixth Form College
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Summary Of School
- Type of school: Co-educational
- Age range: 15-18
- Pupils: 320
- Boarders: 95%
- Fees: £42,700
- 2019 A Level Results: 90%
- 2019 GCSE Results: Not Applicable
About and History
Founded in 2004 as a small, private tutorial college, Cardiff Sixth Form College (CSFC) is dedicated to pioneering a new approach, combining small class sizes with individual attention and excellent teaching to nurture the potential of its students.
Located in the heart of Cardiff City following two relocations, necessitated by rapid growth and development, CSFC now calls Trinity Court, Newport Road home.
The school also stands as a combination of learning philosophies, culminating in an East-meets-West approach to education, with equal emphasis on the Eastern style of rigour and discipline, yet retaining the Western style of individual creative cultivation and nurture.
This blends together for the school to form a haven for students who have had enough of being insufficiently challenged in their education. To cite CSFC’s website, the school is for students who “wish to win a place at the best universities to study courses which will provide fulfilment and challenge”.
Reaching for the heights of Academia
For CSFC, the academic has been and looks to always be the central focus. This is best reflected in the school’s recent results: an array of As and A*s totalling 89 per cent of the school in 2018, with only four per cent below a B. This marks the most recent achievement of CSFC, who has topped the Times and Telegraph league tables for the last six years, including achieving Top Independent School in the UK by A Level results in 2017.
This begins from selection and screening, with the school noted as being particularly picky, requiring excellence in English as a prerequisite, with international students required to have a 6.5 in the academic version of IELTS. Applicants with GCSEs are required to have at least six A*/8-9s in total with A*/8-9 in all subjects chosen for A Level, as well as doing sufficiently well in college admission tests. All applicants also sit the GL assessment in verbal reasoning online and are interviewed, either in person or through video-conferencing.
Once enrolled, students are faced with committed and experienced teaching staff who do nothing but teach, as all extracurricular matters and administration is handled by a separate team. Small classes with an average of eight students per class also play a part, allowing teachers to offer their attention to students who need it over the 25 hours of taught hours a week. Teachers monitor students closely, fixing problems with one-to-one interventions, with peer one-to-one sessions common as well.
Graduates can look towards the G5 as University destinations: Oxford, Cambridge, London Imperial, LSE, and UCL, with 42 per cent of 2018’s leavers heading on to these Universities with a heavy bias towards degree courses in medicine, engineering, and computer science. This is due to CSFC only offering A Level subjects that are identified as facilitating, totalling 15 subjects with an emphasis on STEM subjects and sciences that lead on to medicine, dentistry, or veterinary courses.
Fees for this school stand among the most expensive in the UK, attributable to the cost of leasehold buildings, the small classes, and the high number of teaching hours. Though the school does have some generous bursaries, with some going up to 100 per cent, and Welsh students receive a subsidy, it should be noted that the school does not have charitable status.
Boarding and care
Boarders are usually overseas and further flung students, with the boarding houses functional in design, mostly situated in two blocks in former university accommodation a short walk from the main building.
Students can choose between studios or cluster rooms, where 5 to 6 single rooms share a kitchen and common space. GCSE students have a communal dining table, and the kitchens in their quarters are only meant for snacks. All meals are provided in the school’s canteen, with dietary needs such as religious restrictions and allergies catered for.
Considering CSFC is located in the heart of Cardiff, the town offers its amenities to the students, among which are work observation placements, which lend a helping hand to a student’s university application. While the school’s library offers strong reference material, recreational reading is mainly obtained from Cardiff’s library instead.
In terms of pastoral care, the school serves very well as a bridge to University life, not only in terms of its lodging arrangements, but also in terms of preparing students for living alone and away from home. The multicultural diversity of its students also helps prepare them for social interactions away from home and in the wider world. Students are also expected to carry themselves as responsible adults, and this is shown in how the school treats disciplinary matters, with sanctions happening rarely.
Considering the academic focus of the school, exam anxiety is a common occurrence. Recognising this, the school has measures in place to handle it, leading to the stigma on mental health fading. This has led to the Independent Schools Association nominating CSFC for an award in mental health, which stands the school well in terms of mental healthcare.
Again, with the school located in the city centre, sports can be a bit hard to handle. However, the school continues to encourage healthy physical activities, with classes for yoga, fitness, dance, and swimming organised through local gyms and other providers. Traditional ball games take place on local pitches, with three hours of weekly sport compulsory for anyone below sixth form.
Their debating team, however, sees plenty of endorsement, as a means of developing eloquence, as well as to prepare for careers where the ability to string a forcible argument together is a necessity. Music is offered in Glee club, with performances and productions seeing more credibility due to the multicultural mix of nationalities among the students there. Other avenues include music lessons for 18 instruments, with CSFC boasting some very accomplished musicians.
However, even in the extracurricular, study comes first, with clubs limited in number and trending toward the academic in nature. A point of pride is the NASA Club, which participates in a worldwide competition where students propose detailed designs for a future human settlement in space. The CSFC club even made it to the finals in the 2018 iteration of this competition.