There are three Government high schools in the Cayman Islands: two in Grand Cayman (Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound and John Gray High School on Academy Way in George Town), and one in Cayman Brac (the Layman E. Scott Snr. High School).
Clifton Hunter and John Gray serve Years 7–11 for students aged 11–16, while Layman Scott Snr. serves Years 7–12, for students aged 11–17. In addition, Clifton Hunter and John Gray students complete a mandatory Year 12 offsite.
All three high schools offer the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) programme which caters to students who are performing above their age academically. These students can take GCSE's in Years 9 and 10, as well as Year 11, meaning that some kids will leave Government schools with additional external exams.
Public High Schools
All three government high schools follow the Cayman Islands National Curriculum from Years 7-9 and do CXCs or GCSE from Years 10-11. Even though they do not have a Year 12, that year must be spent in full-time education.
Clifton Hunter and John Gray serve Years 7-11 for students aged 11 to 16, while Layman E. Scott serves Years 7-12, for students aged 11 to 17. In addition, Clifton Hunter and John Gray students complete a mandatory Year 12 either at the CIFEC (Cayman Islands Further Education Centre), UCCI or at a private school where they do A Levels.
Students follow the Cayman Islands National Curriculum up to Year 9. In Year 10, students begin their preparation for internationally accredited external examinations by following the relevant syllabi. All students complete a two year programme of classes (Years 10 and 11) in the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, Physical Education and Life Skills and have the option of taking three additional subjects of their choice. Students then take exams set either by a UK exam board (GCSE), the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam (CAPE) or they can take the USA Advanced Placement (AP) level exams at the end of Year 11.
All students are then automatically enrolled in the compulsory Year 12 (one academic year) programme at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC), where they can take an array of business and technology courses (BTEC), get involved in work experience and internships, or retake CXC and GCSE exams to improve their grade standing. There is also the option for students to enrol in a Dual Entry programme such as A Levels at St. Ignatius or Cayman Prep and High School, an approved accredited school overseas (this option at the student’s expense), or attend the University College of the Cayman Islands and work on an Associate's Degree.
After completing their Year 12 programme, students graduate from their respective secondary schools at the compulsory school leaving age of 17. Students who do not have the minimum five external passes (at CSEC or GCSE) after graduating from high school, may have the opportunity to be admitted to UCCI’s Pre-College Matriculation programme, where they can obtain transferable college credits. This programme allows students to take foundation level courses in Maths, English and college skills in order to prepare students to transition into an Associate's Degree programme.
It is worth noting that whilst all education is free for Caymanians (at Government schools), parents are still liable to pay for exam entry fees. This means that they have to pay for every CXC, GCSE or BTEC course (British and Technology Education Council) that is taken. Fees are approximately CI$25 per subject for CXCs, CI$50 per GCSE and between CI$110 and CI$250 per BTEC Vocational Qualification, depending on the subject and the level.
To graduate with a High School Diploma, all students leaving a Government high school must attain one of four academic levels (Level 2 with High Honours, Level 2 with Honours, Level 2 Diploma, Level 1 Diploma – the highest being Level 2 with High Honours). In addition, during their last three years (Years 10-12) they must have at least a 90% or more attendance record, have less than 15 days of suspension and have completed 10 hours of community service.
According to education officials, the aim in standardising the graduation criteria is to recognise and inspire excellence in achievement, and to make clear to both students and future employers what academic level has been attained at high school. It also helps everyone in the community understand how qualifications are ranked, and how they then match up to skills and knowledge levels. The new graduation standards will also have an important added benefit for lifelong learners, who will now have a route to gain a graduation diploma or improve the level of their diploma, once they meet the required standards.
The different levels are as follows:
Level 2 diploma with high honours:
> at least 9 subjects passed at Level 2 or higher, at grades I-II/A*-B or the equivalent standard (grades I or II for CXC, CSEC, A*, A, or B for GCSE/IGCSE; Level 2 BTEC qualifications with Distinction; or the equivalent standard for other externally awarded qualifications) > must include English and Mathematics
Level 2 diploma with honours:
> at least 7 subjects passed at Level 2 or higher (i.e. grades I – III for CXC, CSEC; A*-C for GCSE/IGCSE; Level 2 BTEC; or the equivalent standard for other externally awarded qualifications) > must include English and Mathematics
Level 2 diploma:
> at least 5 subjects passed at Level 2 or higher (i.e. grades I – III for CXC, CSEC; A*-C for GCSE/IGCSE; Level 2 BTEC; or the equivalent standard for other externally awarded qualifications) > must include English and Mathematics
Level 1 diploma:
> at least 5 subjects passed at Level 1 or higher (e.g. grades IV-VI for CXC, CSEC, D-G for GCSE/CXC, Level 1 BTEC; or the equivalent standard for other externally awarded qualifications) > must include English or Literacy Functional Skills, and Mathematics, Numeracy or Mathematics Functional Skills.
For those who then go on to Level 3 (International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement diplomas, ‘A’ Levels or an Associates degree at UCCI) after leaving high school, the passing of this level indicates suitability for pursuing tertiary education.
For exams, a minimum of five passes at CXC or GCSE, including Maths and English, are considered necessary for entry to the A Level programme at either St. Ignatius or Cayman Prep. However, both of these schools do not count Early Childhood Studies and Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM) as access courses. Further requirements include a minimum grade pass at A*-C or 1-3 are essential if applying for a government scholarship.
For those in the US system, a 2.75 GPA is considered necessary for entry to a university course, but a 3.0 GPA is necessary to qualify for a Cayman Islands Government university scholarship.
For those who go on to Level 3 (International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placements, A Levels or an Associate’s degree at UCCI) after leaving high school, the passing of this level indicates suitability for pursuing tertiary education.
Options for Year 12 Students
Students attending a government high school have various options for their 12th and final year of high school.
Students who have earned at least five external exam passes (CXC/GCSE/IGCSE) inclusive of Maths and English, with a grade of no less than III/C, are given “Dual Enrolment” approval for Year 12 of high school. “Dual Enrolment” gives the Year 12 student the opportunity to either enrol at UCCI, or participate in an A Level programme at a local private school (as discussed on the previous page). Year 12 “Dual Enrolment” students at UCCI, have the opportunity to complete their last year of high school, while obtaining college credit towards an Associates degree.
Government high school students that do not achieve five external exam passes in Year 11, are given alternative options at CIFEC for Year 12.