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What Cardiff Academy stands for are the old-fashioned values of honesty, integrity, value-for-money, success through hard work, teaching professionalism and a continuing duty of care to each student we take in from the day they arrive to the day they leave. These values inform everything we do from our dealings with parents to our insistence that, although Cardiff Academy is a fee-paying institution, the students we teach always come first. These things make Cardiff Academy really quite different from most other private schools and colleges and stand as something of an antidote to commercialisation and commodification in education.
The reason for the difference in outlook and ethos between Cardiff Academy and other independent schools and colleges is that Cardiff Academy is owned by teachers for the benefit of parents and students rather than by an educational business for the benefit of shareholders and private investors. Because of this, everything about Cardiff Academy from the day-to-day running of the business to the fees we charge is in the hands of teachers rather than financial managers. The difference is a profound one.
The most concrete expression of this difference comes in the form of our holistic and largely non-selective approach to student entry and progression from AS to A-level (A2). In adopting this approach, we accept that the A-level grades achieved by students at Cardiff Academy will necessarily show a wider range of achievement than elsewhere and will, in all probability, include some grades that other schools would deem unacceptable. However, the purpose of Cardiff Academy is not to compete with other private schools and colleges for league table positions on the basis of a tiny number of academically elite home students and overseas scholars but to demonstrate what students of a wide range of ability are capable of doing at GCSE and A-level under the best possible circumstances, when taught in small groups by teachers capable of teaching across the entire ability range. In our opinion, this is what real teaching is all about and this is what makes teaching at Cardiff Academy a joy rather than a chore.
From the point of view of fee-paying parents at A-level, all that really matters in the end is not the grades a College produces but whether their children gain access to the University of their choice to study the Degree Course they are interested in. On this basis, we have a lot of very happy parents and children because our track-record of success in placing students at University over fifteen years is 100%. Given the wide range of students we accept each year, the fact that every one of our students has gained access to University over such an extended period of time is proof enough that the quality of teaching available at Cardiff Academy is superb.
What parents and students have come increasingly to realise since we first set up in 1999 is that Cardiff Academy really is an institution which puts the child first. What they have discovered here is an educational ethos which respects the individual and values scholarship and understanding over cramming and rote-learning. Academic high-flyers excel in this system because our small class-sizes allow them to engage in academic debate with teachers who are true experts in their subject. Those academically less able students we accept fare equally well as a result of the enormous amount of individual support and encouragement they receive from our teaching staff. As a result, all students at Cardiff Academy are given the chance to show what they can do under the best possible circumstances and in the knowledge that, no matter what happens, we will never abandon them or let them down. This is a powerful message and one which is being increasingly recognised as such by more and more fee-paying parents and students in Cardiff and beyond every year.