Schools & Education in Cayman

According to the 2018 Education Data Report, there are 2,106 children enroled in the 41 preschools, and a total of 8,137 children enroled in the 27 private and government schools spread across the three Islands with 731 teachers teaching these students. On this page you will find more information on Cayman's current school statistics and new developments.

In primary and secondary education there are 3,481 students in private schools, 2,425 in government primary schools, 2,231 in government secondary schools and 100 students enroled in the Lighthouse School, the country’s school for special needs, with 16 teachers teaching them. 121 children are home schooled.

The Cayman Islands have excellent schools all the way from preschool through to high school and university, but historically there has been a serious shortage of available spaces in these schools. For Grand Cayman’s top private pre-schools and primary schools, parents put their children on the waitlist shortly after birth, making it next to impossible to get your child a space if you are new to the Island. The last two years of high school are also at maximum capacity. The problem extends to government schools, which can only be attended by Caymanians, those with Permanent Residency and the children of Cayman Islands Government workers, as they are  likewise in desperate need of more school places. Thankfully, the problem is being addressed: in August 2019 the Education Council approved the licensing of four new schools and the green light has been given on completing John Gray High School.

Newly licensed schools as of September 2019 include: Footsteps School, which is a boutique primary school offering the English National Curriculum, small class sizes and an element of outdoor learning to encourage exploration and investigation; Island Montessori, which is now offering a Year 1 and Year 2 class that follows the English National Curriculum and has no shortage of beautiful gardens and lush outdoor space, Cayman Learning Centre in Pasadora Place which follows the English National Curriculum with a primary focus on supporting students with learning difficulties and Clever Fish on Walkers Road which offers full time education as an alternative placement for children with special educational needs. The latter is perfect for those with a recognised need and who would benefit from a smaller learning environment with very individualised attention. Finally, Cayman International School’s massive expansion will add close to 500 new school places by the end of 2020.

In the Government school field, the CI$40 million plan to complete the John Gray High School is a very welcome development. With extensive input from teaching staff, parents and pupils, the new design has the approval of those who will actually use it and they are excited for its completion in August 2021. The playing fields will then be completed by August 2022. All of these additions cannot come soon enough for the Cayman community!

HOW THE GRADE SYSTEM WORKS

AgeGovernment & Private
British Schools
Private American
Schools in Cayman
4-5Kindergarten
Pre-K
5-6Year 1KG
6-7Year 2Grade 1
7-8Year 3Grade 2
8-9Year 4Grade 3
9-10Year 5Grade 4
10-11Year 6Grade 5
11-12Year 7Grade 6
12-13Year 8Grade 7
13-14Year 9Grade 8
14-15Year 10Grade 9
15-16Year 11Grade 10
16-17Year 12 (Lower Sixth)Grade 11
17-18Year 13 (Upper Sixth)Grade 12
In the Cayman Islands compulsory education must start by 5 years of age.

Caymanian Children

Caymanian students have the option to go to a government school (it is decided by catchment area) or a private school. If a Caymanian chooses to send their child to a government primary or high school then the Government has an obligation to educate that child from the age of five to 17.

All three government high schools end at Year 11 (age 16), but because the Government mandates that education is compulsory to Year 12 (or the age of 17), all children who go through the government school system will officially be enroled in the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) for Year 12 where they can take CXCs, GCSEs or a BTEC work experience programme.

However, if your child wants to go to a private school (overseas or in Cayman) so that they can get sufficient external exams (SATs, A Levels, APs or BTECs) to get into an overseas university, then their move must be approved by the Director of Education Services and they will be given what is called ‘Dual Entry’. Without this designation, their previous time at a government high school will not apply to their graduation criteria.

Expat Children

It is the Cayman Islands Government’s stance that expatriates employed in the private sector who qualify to have their dependants on-Island with them (i.e. earn over CI$3,500 per month and have two dependants on their permit), should educate their children in private schools.

If the Government employs an expatriate, then the employee has the option of sending their children to a government school, if there is space. However, most government schools are at capacity and the Lighthouse school is completely full. Expats are advised to work out carefully what their budget plus buffer would be, and whether they can realistically afford to school their children in Cayman. Sending your child to a private school and then asking the Dept of Education if your child can move to a government school because you cannot afford the school fees is not an option. If you find you cannot afford to educate your child at your chosen private school then the only options are to choose a less expensive private school, ask the school for financial assistance, home school your child, or have your children leave the Island. If they are between the ages of five and 17 they cannot live in Cayman and not be in full time education.

Another problem which many expats are facing is that they cannot get a place for their children in any of Cayman’s private schools. If this is the case, and there is evidence to validate this, then your options are either to home school your children, or if you cannot do that then ask the Dept. of Education if there is space in a government school for your child. They will try and find a space for your child if it is possible.

If you are an expatriate on a work permit, the process is as follows: 1) apply to your chosen school; 2) get confirmation from the school by letter that your child has been accepted “pending Immigration approval”; 3) take this letter to Immigration along with your work permit application; 4) take a copy of the letter verifying that your child has been added as a dependant to your work permit to the school prior to attendance.

Reserving a place

If you would like to send your child to a government school you will need to fill in an official ‘Student Registration Form’ available from the Department of Education Services (DES).

If you would like to send your child to a private school then go directly to the school with a copy of your child’s birth certificate, a passport photo and money for a deposit. As mentioned previously, waiting lists for schools, particularly KG and Year/Grade 1, are very long and putting your child on the waiting lists of your two preferred primary schools by their first birthday, if not at birth, is essential. The same applies to preschools. The really popular ones are also full to capacity. Having said this, Cayman is a transient place and places do become available with patience and time.

Please note that siblings, children of alumni, and members of the affiliated church (if it is a faith‐based school) are usually given priority at private schools, so even if your child is on a waiting list, enrolment is not guaranteed. Do not overlook enroling your subsequent children. The additions of a few new private schools, as mentioned above, in the 2019-2020 school year will, hopefully, create more primary school places.

School Standards in Cayman & School Inspection Reports

All schools in the Cayman Islands are regularly inspected by a dedicated team of education experts who are part of the Office of Education Standards. These school reports rate schools by various criteria but their overall grading falls into either a Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Weak category. We highly recommend you read the reports and make a bee line for the schools with an Excellent or Good rating. Failing that, require your child’s school to improve their standards! Your children deserve the best education they can possibly get!

Office of Education Standards

School inspections carried out by the Office of Education Standards (OES) reveal that, broadly speaking, the majority of children in Cayman are not achieving at the same standard as their peers in other countries. Weak teaching and lack of parental involvement have been identified as some of the contributing factors to students’ below international average performance. The OES’ Annual Report 2019 entitled ‘Every School a Good School’ found that only one school (Little Trotters) scored at the ‘excellent’ level, and only about one quarter of all schools inspected to date are performing at the ‘expected’ level (good or better). They also found that almost all of the institutions performing at the expected level are private schools or privately operated early years centres.

Enrolment Age & Requirements

In the Cayman Islands it is compulsory for all children from the age of five years to 17 to attend school or be home schooled. For preschool, your child can usually start at age two or sometimes as young as 18 months. A handful will take infants at six weeks if they have a dedicated nursery room.

For primary school, the starting age depends on whether you will be educating your child through the British school system (Cayman Prep and High School (CPHS), St. Ignatius and government schools) or the American school system (Cayman International School, First Baptist Christian School, Grace Christian Academy and Triple C). In the British system, your child can enter Kindergarten if they are four by September, while in the American system, your child must be five by September. Please be aware that many of the private schools now have Pre-K years (e.g. St. Ignatius Catholic School and Cayman International School) which means that their students can start at two or three years old and will automatically move up to Kindergarten, leaving less space for incoming students. If you intend to send your child to one of the major private primary schools, make sure to secure and accept their place in Kindergarten or you will find it very difficult to get them into the school in Year 1.

Most private schools in Cayman will only test your child for placement if they are entering after Kindergarten (or Pre-K4). If your child is transferring from another school, they will likely need official school records from the previous school(s), if transferring at the high school level. An up-to-date medical record, that includes vaccination details, is also required.

Health Screenings

All students entering government or private schools in the Cayman Islands for the first time are required by law to have a health screening. The Education Department mandates that these screenings must be completed before the new school year begins in September. The screening includes a growth and development assessment, screening for vision and hearing, a dental assessment, the administration of necessary immunisations and obtaining a student’s personal medical history. Public Health Department staff will conduct the screenings, which are free to all students. For more information, please contact Nurse Carvell Bailey on (345) 244 2734 and (345) 244 2648.

For those entering schools in West Bay and the Eastern districts, health screenings usually take place between the 3rd and 28th of June. For all other students, health screenings will take place at John Gray High School Medical Centre (Nurse’s Office) from approx. 4th July to 16th August each year. Appointments can be made at the school the child will be attending. Parents and guardians need to accompany their children to the health screening and they should also bring the child’s immunisation record. Vaccines will be offered to children whose immunisations are not up-to-date. Parents may have their child’s health screenings done by a private doctor, as long as that doctor completes the school health screening forms provided by the Public Health Department. The completed forms should be handed in at the John Gray High School Medical Centre (Nurse’s Office) from 4th July to 16th August, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Once the record has been received, the child will be issued with a health screening certificate, which they must then take with them to school in September.

For those attending schools in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, appointments can be arranged through Public Health Nurse Kedine Hyde at Faith Hospital on (345) 244-2648.

School Uniforms

While most preschools do not have school uniform, all primary and high schools in Cayman have specified uniforms, as well as shoe and hat policies. Read more to find out how to organise your child’s uniform correctly.

School Fees & Scholarships

School fees quoted on this page are for the 2019/20 calendar year and are subject to change.

Caymanian students do not pay school fees to attend government schools although they do pay for all external exams (GCSE, BTEC etc). All non-Caymanian students attending one of the public schools pay CI$750 per year for primary school, CI$900 per year for middle school and CI$1,200 per year for high school. This is considerably less expensive than current private school fees.

The fees for private schools vary widely from school to school. The top preschools charge in the region of CI$850-$1195 per month, but you can find many daycare centres and nurseries that charge CI$650 per month (for keeping your children from 7.30am to 6pm). The top primary schools charge between CI$9,250-CI$18,050 per year and the top high schools charge between CI$10,700-CI$21,550 per year, but lower fees can be found at other schools. Some schools offer a sibling discount. Most private schools also prefer fees to be paid per term or annually.

All Caymanian students accepted at a private school to take A Levels or an Associates degree at UCCI, can apply for a scholarship to help pay for their school fees, although there is means testing for this. However, if a student is accepted from a government school, they get the first year’s fees paid in full (plus text books) and then either CI$7,000 or CI$5,000 paid for the second year (it is decided on a points system based on the student’s GCSE results). They also must have higher passes in GCSE and/or CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) English Language and Mathematics to secure funding. Current Caymanian students of either CPHS or St. Ignatius can apply for funding when they enter Year 12 (and 13). All students must obtain a minimum of 2 Cs and a D passes in their AS levels at the end of Year 12 in order to get the funding for the second year of 6th form. The application period for local scholarship funding is March 1st to April 30th. Late applications will not be considered. For more information please see the Scholarships section of www.education.gov.ky.

Switching Schools

Many Caymanian students leave the public school system and go to a private school for A Levels. At the same time many expat children leave the private schools in Cayman and leave for boarding schools in England, Canada and the USA. The three main years of entry into a private school in Cayman, or a boarding school overseas, are at the beginning of high school (Year 7), at beginning of Year 9 (a year before GCSE’s start) or at the beginning of Year 12 (for the start of A Levels). Since many parents in Cayman send their children to boarding school we have been reliably told that equal numbers of children leave for the start of years 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, the final push being the year before children start GCSE’s. When these pupils leave, places in private schools in Cayman are freed up and the places are quickly snapped up by Caymanian students leaving the government high schools.

Places at Cayman’s two private schools which do A Levels (CPHS and St. Ignatius) are few and highly sought after. On average, there are no more than 10 places available for the start of 6th form (Year 12) and each child is expected to get an A or a B grade in the GCSE subjects which they have chosen to do at A Level. More public school students can gain a place at either of these private schools if they are willing to enter in years 7, 8 or 9. In all instances, the child will be interviewed and expected to meet the school’s evaluation criteria.

If you do want to enter your child into either of these private schools, you must apply no later than January of the year in which your child wishes to start. By the start of the Easter term they will have effectively closed their lists to new applicants.

Quite a few students also switch between the private schools, but before a switch can take place, and in addition to the normal paperwork (assessments etc.), there is a transfer form, designed and managed by the Private Schools Association (PSA), that must be completed by the current school and forwarded to the new school. As well as a standard report on the child’s performance and behaviour, this form clearly states whether financial commitments have been met. It is an essential component of the acceptance process for students transferring within the private school system.

Libraries

Cayman’s public libraries are a great place to inspire your child to read and to encourage their love for books.