Cayman has a selection of excellent private schools, each following either the British or American curricula. In both systems the main student intake is for Kindergarten/Reception (British) and Pre-K (US).
The most popular schools have very few places available in Year 1, so think carefully if you are offered a place and decide to delay your child's entry for a year. Students can then remain in their chosen school up to Year 13 (UK system) and Year 12 (US system).
Schools following the UK system take GCSEs and A Levels and the US system offers either the IB programme or prepares students to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and attain a US High School Diploma.
Some schools also offer Advanced Placements (APs) and the Government's Further Education Centre (CIFEC) offer BTEC courses.
British Education System
Children entering the British school system have to be four years old by 1st September. They enter Kindergarten/Reception and then stay in primary school until the end of Year 6 or the year they are turning 11 (a total of seven years). They then go to high school for Year 7 through to Year 13. In Year 11 (when they are 16) students take GCSEs or IGCSEs and all students are required to take a science, a language, as well as Maths, English Language and English Literature. Many international schools that teach the British curriculum often offer IGCSEs, which is widely considered to be more rigorous than the GCSEs.
After finishing GCSEs, the two-year A Level programme commences in Year 12 and is completed in Year 13 when students are turning 18. However, students studying in Cayman are expected to take AS Levels in Year 12 and their results are used as a benchmark for universities to predict how the student will do in their A Levels. Since government high schools in Cayman finish at 16, and do not offer A Levels, Government students will often move to the British system for the start of year 12.
Students usually take between 8 and 11 GCSE subjects and they need to have passed Maths and English and get three A Levels with grades A*-E to get into a university. Students will often start doing four A Levels and then drop their weakest subject at the end of AS Levels. Exam passes at A Level are graded A*, A, B, C, D and E.
(Note: Most Montessori schools that extend into Primary follow the Montessori philosophy, whilst aligning with UK curriculum standards).
American Education System
Most American schools in Cayman offer a Pre-K3 programme, so your child can start at the age of four. These children will be given preference for Kindergarten places when other children start at the age of five. Children then move up to Grade 1 when they are six and stay in school for a total of 13 years, graduating at 17 or 18, when they are in Grade 12. They usually graduate with an American High School Diploma and students are taught the ins and outs of sitting SATs (Scholastic Assessment Test). Cayman International School (CIS) also offers the International Baccalaureate diploma (IB) for students in Years 11 and 12. Triple C School offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
To graduate with an American High School Diploma, students need to obtain at least 20 credits, split between English (4), Social Studies and a Foreign Language (6), Math (6), Arts/Drama/Music (1) and Physical Education (2). Credit requirements for graduation are different for every school, and will depend on how a school’s curriculum is structured. Having said this, all have standard requirements for core subjects such as English, Math, Science and Social Studies, and then elective credits for other classes.
Parents should familiarise themselves with the credit requirements of their child’s school, keeping in mind that some will require a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) for graduation. The GPA is the grade (number/percentage) representing the average value of the accumulated final grades and ranges from 0.0 to 4.0. For example, 4.0 = A, 3.0 = B, 2.0 = C, 1.0 = D and 0.0 = F.
Most universities in the United States will require a specific High School GPA before a high school graduate can even be considered for admittance, so it is very important for parents to be aware of what the requirements are for any college or university to which their child may be applying. Students should also be aware of this, if hoping to secure a scholarship. See pages 109-110 for more information on this.
The International Baccalaureate at CIS
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is offered at CIS (Cayman International School). The curriculum is made up of three core components a) Theory of Knowledge (TOK); b) Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) and c) Extended Essay – plus six subject groups. Students must participate in all three core subjects and also choose one course from each of the six subject groups. The six subject groups are: language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, maths and the arts. Three or four of these are taken at Higher Level, and the rest at Standard Level.
Students sit exams for the Diploma Programme in May. They are graded from 1 to 7 (7 being the highest) for each of their six subjects. Additionally, the Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay are also graded, and together can add up to an additional 3 points. The maximum score one can therefore achieve is 45. The pass rate is 24, and anything over 34 is considered very solid. Universities will also publish the IB scores they require for the subject you want to study. For example, if someone wants to study medicine at university, they need to get an IB score in the 40s. Architecture would be in the high 30s.
Montessori Education System
There are two Montessori schools in Cayman who offer the Montessori schooling system beyond preschool. Village Montessori and Montessori By The Sea teach children up to the age of 12. Both implement an enriched Montessori elementary curriculum that is geared to meet Cayman Islands National Curriculum Standards. Also included are life skills education along with specialised instruction in Spanish, ICT, Physical Education, the Arts and Music.