Two Welsh schools have emerged as contenders for the prestigious title of the world’s best school.
Cadoxton Primary School, a state institution located in Barry, and Cardiff Sixth Form College, an independent international school situated in Cardiff, have both secured positions as top three finalists in the World’s Best School Prizes for 2023.
The World’s Best School Prizes, established by T4 Education, are renowned as the globe’s most prestigious recognitions in education, spanning across five distinct categories: community collaboration, environmental action, innovation, overcoming adversity, and promoting healthy lives. Each of the five prize winners will receive an equal share of $250,000, amounting to $50,000 per award.
The verdict on whether Cadoxton Primary School and Cardiff Sixth Form College emerge as victors will be unveiled in November.
The selection process relies on stringent criteria and will be determined by a judging panel comprising leaders hailing from diverse sectors worldwide, including academia, education, non-governmental organisations, social entrepreneurship, government, civil society, and the private sector.
Cadoxton Primary School has earned a spot as one of the top three finalists in the “Overcoming Adversity” category of the World’s Best School Prize.
Over 35% of its student body qualifies for free school meals, a percentage significantly higher than the national average. Additionally, 40% of its students have additional learning requirements. Upon enrollment, nearly all students at the school start below the expected level. However, by the time they complete their education, almost all of them not only reach but also surpass the expected level, with half of them achieving results that exceed expectations.
The school has been recognized for its remarkable impact on the lives of its students and its valuable support to the disadvantaged community amidst the ongoing cost-of-living challenges. It operates a “pay as you feel” store, housed in a repurposed shipping container located adjacent to the school community center. This initiative addresses food poverty by providing access to items that would otherwise be discarded by supermarkets.
Additionally, the school organizes various initiatives aimed at involving families in their children’s education. These include a food literacy program, which educates families about the significance of food in both physical and mental well-being. The school also hosts “Soup and Song” sessions where children and parents come together to sing songs and learn how to prepare nutritious meals, which they subsequently share with elderly community members.
In the event of winning the monetary prize, the school intends to invest it in the expansion and enhancement of its facilities, including the sports hall, with the aim of creating versatile spaces that can benefit the entire community.
Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Councillor Lis Burnett said: “I’d like to pass on my congratulations to Cadoxton Primary School and wish them every success as this exciting competition reaches its climax. Whatever the outcome there can be no doubt as to the significant and lasting impact the school’s community initiatives have had on those living locally.”
Meanwhile, Cardiff Sixth Form College has secured a spot among the top three finalists in the “Supporting Healthy Lives” category of the World’s Best School Prize. The college, known for its consistent top rankings in A-level performance, has been commended for its innovative approach in guiding its high-achieving students to prioritize both their mental and physical well-being. This emphasis on well-being equips them with the resilience and equilibrium necessary for a prosperous future.
The college has established the pioneering CREATE© Portfolio program to guide students in achieving this balance. This initiative empowers students to select areas of their lives they wish to enhance and rewards them with points for completing tasks, such as volunteering, that contribute to their personal growth over a two-year period.
This program has witnessed some students not only prioritising their own well-being but also actively aiding the local community. They have done so by providing tutoring assistance to underprivileged pupils and offering free guidance for applying to UK universities.
In the event of winning the $50,000 prize, the college intends to reinvest it in further developing the program and sustaining its commitment to nurturing the well-being of its students.
Welsh Government Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, commented: “It’s brilliant to see two Welsh schools as finalists for this prize. I’m so proud of the important work Cadoxton Primary School do to support pupils and families. The school has been a big part of helping the Welsh Government find the best ways to tackle the impact of poverty on educational achievement. Llongyfarchiadau to Cardiff Sixth Form College too, it is great to hear how their students have been focusing on their physical and mental health – an important priority for all schools in Wales. Pob lwc pawb!”