Cathays Culture Blog

Cathays High School is proud to announce that it has been rated a Category Green school by the Welsh Government, an achievement that puts us in the top 25% of schools in Wales. To be rated a Category Green school you must meet the following criteria:

  • Are highly effective – achieves good outcomes for learners
  • A track record in raising standards
  • Know how to improve and are clear about priorities – has a detailed and focused plan to ensure ongoing success
  • Are capable of helping others improve – works collaboratively with other Cardiff schools to help raise standards
  • Well run and with strong leadership

This is a fantastic achievement for Cathays High and is a reward for the hard work and dedication shown by both staff and students. Last summer 100% of students achieved the L1 threshold with 48% reaching the L2+ threshold. We are very proud of these results and the students that achieved them. As ever, we will continue to endeavour to improve them further in the future and ensure that Cathays High School remains a school that values development and improvement.

Across Cardiff, Cathays was one of only seven secondaries to achieve Category Green status.


We are exceptionally proud of our multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-language school. We believe that we offer the young people of Cardiff a fantastic education, regardless of their first language, faith or ability. For us, our motto of ‘Opportunities For All’ is no idle statement. It is a statement that represents our promise to ensure that every student that arrives to study at Cathays is given every opportunity to make their most of their potential and achieve their goals.

To help us maximise the potential of our students, our staff are committed to making sure that all lessons are suitably differentiated. Differentiation is a strategy that means that the work that is set for students during a lesson is set at an appropriate level. That does not mean that the work is ‘dumbed-down’ or simplified. It means that the needs of the individual are considered to ensure that the level of challenge is appropriate and allows them to make progress.

With this in mind, at the beginning of September the Teaching and Learning Group decided that we would like to identify all the fantastic strategies that are used by our inspiring staff and ensure practice that helps students progress and reach their potential is shared. Cathays High School is passionate about developing a culture of learning amongst our staff. We pride ourselves on our relentless focus on effective practice in the classroom. In November we organised a ‘Differentiation Learning Walk’ that allowed staff to demonstrate and share their effective practice. It was a hugely successful day that resulted in us identifying numerous strategies that we then shared on our whole school INSET day in January. INSET (training days) provide us with valuable opportunities to celebrate and share all the fantastic skills that our staff demonstrate consistently across the school year.

The Teaching and Learning Group is a group that has been set up to discuss and share teaching and learning strategies that are beneficial to our students. Currently, there are 15 members of the group and it is fantastic to have regular conversations about pedagogy with such a knowledgeable and committed team. The other purpose of the Teaching and Learning Group is to discuss potential changes to the school structure or systems. At Cathays, we feel it is important to take on board the opinions of a wide range of staff to ensure that we always have a rounded view of the feelings of staff and students before decisions are taken.


Trail blazers at Cathays High School on International Day of the Girl

As Cathays High School gets set to mark International Day of the Girl with a series of workshops led by female role models from male dominated industries, it is the legacy established by Year 11 pupils, Omamah, Retag and Tania that really sets this day apart. These teenagers have proved to be real trail blazers with the way in which they have pushed boundaries and promoted sport for girls at the school. In July 2016, when the current Year 11 pupils left school, the girls seized the opportunity to commandeer the basketball court, which up until that point in time, had been a traditional male preserve. They claimed it as their own, and every breaktime, lunchtime and after school, the girls could be found shooting hoops and working to improve their skills. It was at their request that the school drafted in a basketball coach to work with them. Their aim in the first instance, was to build a team, and to then be in a position to take on other all female teams in the city.

The girls are all high achieving students. They value the importance of sport however as a means by which to improve their health and well being. They have also enjoyed the camaraderie that being part of a team brings. The girls are also quick to point out the importance of promoting sport, not only amongst girls generally, but also within the Muslim and BME community. The girls stated that, "Lots of Muslim girls just stay at home and don't get involved, but we don't want to be like that." The girls are currently planning the design of their new team kit. They have also worked around how best to participate whilst maintaining a sense of modesty as young Muslim women. They were quite quick to point out how there is always a solution to everything. "Headscarves can be pinned back or tucked underneath tops. Following a bit of research and shopping, we have managed to find sports wear items that enable us to move freely around the basketball court without holding us back."

The girls have created a remarkable legacy. Training sessions are now really well attended. There have been days when coaches Manny and James have been faced with up to 80 girls turning up to the school's sports hall, all wishing to train and improve their skills. Their message for the younger girls in school, is that not only is sport fun, but it is for everyone and there are no barriers

DayOfTheGirl1 DayOfTheGirl2

In the autumn of 2013, Cathays High School decided to embark on a restorative path. As a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-faith school we felt that we needed to develop a Behaviour for Learning Policy that reflected our inclusive approach and ‘opportunities for all’ motto.

September of 2013 saw us take the first tentative step of our restorative journey and now, a mere 4 years later, the school community is as healthy and vibrant as it has ever been. If you are unsure as to what we mean by ‘restorative’ ,well simply, it is about building strong, positive relationships between staff, students and parents. What restorative is not is accepting poor behaviour. What restorative is insistent upon is staff and students accepting responsibility for their actions. In a nutshell – it is being accountable for your own behaviour.

Over the past two years we have given only 10 students Fixed Term Exclusions. A Fixed Term Exclusion is a period of time that a student is required to stay away from school while we endeavour to provide suitable and effective support upon their reintegration into the school community. This number is one of the lowest in Wales and at Cathays we firmly believe that the reduction in our use of exclusions has come as a direct result of the effort we have put into building strong, supportive and successful relationships with our students. This is something that can be further evidenced by 100% of last year’s Year 11 cohort achieving the Level 1 Threshold (5 qualifications – only one of two schools in Cardiff to achieve this) and our lowest ever number of U grade results. At Cathays we pride ourselves on our teaching and learning and pastoral care and this is something that is reflected in the results of our students.

In November of 2016 a member of our senior staff was lucky enough to attend a Pivotal Education INSET run by Paul Dix. Paul Dix is a firm believer in the power of relationships and talked extensively of the need to achieve a clarity of vision in all aspects of school but especially behaviour for learning. Inspired by the words of Paul and his team, the Cathays Behaviour Group (a group of volunteers from the staff committed to improving behaviour) quickly began to review and revise our Behaviour for Learning Policy. A few things struck us immediately. Firstly, the document was far too long – something that is hugely unhelpful if you want it to be a document that staff and parents can refer to for guidance. Secondly, the name had to change – the team felt it imperative that the onus was firmly focused on building and maintaining good relationships with our students. Finally, did the students know what it was? Did they know the school rules? Had they been consulted? Fundamentally, it is their school after all.

From these initial discussions our current Positive Relationship Policy (see below) was born. Six drafts were produced and staff and students were consulted and provided valuable input. What we now have is a document that we are very proud of. A document that fits in with our school values of preparation, respect and pride and our agreed culture of collaboration, putting the team first and ownership.  We wanted to ensure that our policy made our high standards and expectations clear to all members of the school community – staff and students alike.

Behaviour for learning remains a major focus for all schools. At Cathays High we will continue to ensure it remains a positive feature of our school community.



Want to help your child with their homework? Want to improve your own understanding of the English language? Interested to learn more about the rules of spelling and grammar? Mrs Taylor, one of our hard-working and dedicated English team, has put together a list of websites that can help. 
1. http://www.readtheory.org/ for reading online
10. grammar worksheets
17. The British Council also has free apps available for basic skills
19. http://www.bbc.co.uk/education  KS3, GCSE & AS/A2 

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Date : Wednesday, 22nd September 2021