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Education and Schools

Cayman Islands - Education and Schools

All children of compulsory school age living on the Cayman Islands must receive an education. Children are eligible for Year 1 if they have celebrated their fifth birthday by the start of September, although they can attend reception class a year earlier. Pupils may leave education at the end of Year 12, when they are 17, but many continue their studies.

The government has used worldwide research to establish that more successful education systems often introduce children to compulsory education at a later age. Therefore, while children can access childcare which builds skills in communication and social interaction before they are age of five, this new, higher age for the start of compulsory formal education was recently introduced. Parents may make an application for their child to access the education system earlier if they wish.

Cayman Islands Government Schools

The department of education services for the Cayman Islands has a well organised and useful website which sets out national policies, admissions procedure, and information about government schools, news and announcements.

The school year begins at the end of August, and closes at the beginning of July.

Government-run schools are only available to the children of Cayman Island citizens, and are based on catchment areas. If you move to the Cayman Islands you will be faced with the choice of private schooling or home-schooling. This is because there is a shortage of school places. The only exception is if an expat is working for a Cayman Islands government service, but the parent will then be asked for a set fee, although this will be a much cheaper option than a private school.

Before children are offered a place at a government school, parents must complete an application. The child must also undergo a health check as schooling starts.

Religious Teaching In The Cayman Islands

Religious education is a compulsory subject for government schools to deliver, although parents have the right to withdraw students from this. The national policy requires education about Christianity and other major world religions. Staff and teachers may not promote or discriminate against any religious denomination.

School Uniforms

The department of education services has a national policy regarding school uniform. It is compulsory and aims to increase pupils’ sense of pride, belonging and discipline.

Each government school can determine the style of uniform, as long as it complies with the national standards. These are specific. For example, black shoes or sneakers with no other colours, skirts no higher than an inch above the knee, no jewellery except watches and only plain stud earrings (except at the Light House school, where no earrings are permitted at all). Anything that suggests gang membership is forbidden.

All items must be comfortable, affordable, easy to maintain, and be anti-discriminatory.

Private Schools In The Cayman Islands

Private schools are attended by the children of citizens who have made an active choice to pay for education, which is common, as well as the children of expats who are unable to access the government school places.

Many children are sent away to boarding schools in the United States as they get older. Others access private education for A-Levels at CPHS and St. Ignatius. Since government high schools do not offer A-Levels, pupils can apply for state help with fees, dependent on their GCSE grades.

Due to the heavy demand for private education in the Cayman Islands, private schools have long waiting lists and normally include assessments as part of the application process. It is recommended that parents make applications to at least two schools as far in advance as possible. Each application will require a completed form, passport sized photographs, copies of the birth certificate, and a fee.

Applicants will normally be given preference if a sibling is already attending the school, or if one of the parents attended the same school as a child. Faith-based schools will also give preference to active members of the associated religion. A pre-kindergarten class is run for toddlers at St. Ignatius Catholic School and at Cayman International School. This further reduces the places available for older year groups.

The Health Screening

Regardless of whether a child is entering a public or private school in the Cayman Islands for the first time, they are required to undergo a health screening.

This series of checks is performed by public health department staff for free. They are offered between June and August depending on your area of residence.

Your child’s hearing and vision will be tested, they will have a dental check-up, their growth and development will be assessed, and their personal history examined. If any vaccinations are outstanding, they will be offered at this session.

Popular Schools In The Cayman Islands

The government schools of George Hicks and John Gray High School will only accept applications on behalf of the children of Cayman Island citizens or expats who work for the government. They are both in George Town.

Being a conservative and religious country, it is not surprising that many of the popular private schools are faith schools. These include the Cayman Preparatory and High School, the St. Ignatius Preparatory and High School, the Triple C School and the First Baptist Christian School, all of which are also in George Town. The Grace Christian Academy is based in West Bay.

Meanwhile, there are popular schools delivering the American system of education. The Cayman International School and the Hope Academy are located in George Town.

The small school Montessori by the Sea is on Prospect Road Point, Patrick’s Island.

Cayman Island Home-Schooling

It is legal for children to be home-schooled in the Cayman Islands. However, for the protection of the children, strict regulations are in place which must be adhered to.

You must formally apply to the department of education services for permission to home-school by 1st August. In the event that home-schooling starts part way through the school year, either because you move to the islands or because you remove your child from a school setting, you have 14 days to make the formal application. All applications need to be fully complete and you may be asked for supporting evidence. You will receive a decision letter within 10 working days.

When home-schooling, you must maintain attendance records. Each child is also required to have an individual home-school plan. This must include a wide range of details about the child and their location, the textbooks and syllabus to be used, and plan of instruction for core subjects along with details of the qualifications held by the home instructor.

There must also be a statement confirming that the home-schooling meets the educational requirements of the Education Law 2010 revised sections 13 & 14. This requires a minimum of 4.5 hours of study (excluding breaks) for 185 days each year.

You will be asked to submit reports to the department twice a year. In addition, a government inspector will visit you twice a year to inspect your home-school facilities and practice. One of these visits will be arranged, whilst the other will be unannounced.

If you are a home-schooling parent, you may find contact with similar families on Facebook useful. That way you can share the highs and lows of home-schooling with people who are in the same situation and who won’t judge your decision to educate your children at home.

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