Cardiff county council is the biggest education authority in Wales, created in 1996 when South Glamorgan was split into Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan.
Since last year the council has been hung but led by Liberal Democrats.(Lib Dems 33, Lab 27, Con 12, Plaid Cymru 3) Population
Cardiff council serves a population of about 327,500. Many, especially in the north of the city, live in affluent suburbs, but one quarter of children aged 15 and below live in households receiving means-tested benefit. The city has the highest percentage in Wales of single-parent households.
Nearly 52,000 pupils attend 138 schools: 106 primary (five nursery), of which 11 are Welsh medium, 20 secondary, including two Welsh medium, and seven special schools, with 18 per cent of pupils from ethnic-minority backgrounds. and 19.1 per cent of primary and 16.7 per cent of secondary pupils qualifying for free school meals, slightly above Welsh averages.
Key stage results improving fast at KS1, more slowly at KS3. But GCSE results still trailing. In 2004, 48 per cent gained five or more A*-C grades (Welsh average 51 per cent). Nearly one in 20 pupils aged 16 leaves full-time education with no recognised qualification.
Secondary attendance poorest in Wales. In 2003-4, secondary pupils missed 3.7 per cent of school sessions through unauthorised absence, against Welsh average of 1.7 per cent.
The total schools budget is pound;180 million. Proportion council spends on education (38.5 per cent) among lowest in Wales. But individual school budgets are now close to average and improving. In 2004-5, total planned spending per pupil is pound;3,925 (Wales average pound;4,040), primary funding per pupil pound;2,713 (Welsh average pound;2,700) and secondary pound;3,284 (Welsh average pound;3,397).
Local education authority's strategic management judged "fair" with "good" prospects for improvement. Praise for school improvement and innovation, good leadership by senior officers, effective partnerships at local level, communication with secondary heads, sound financial management. Criticism of surplus places and poor funding.