History of Our School

St James' Catholic High School was founded in 1934 by the Dominican Sisters at the behest of the Cardinal Bourne to provide Catholic secondary education for the children of the parishes of north-west London.

At the time of its foundation, St James' was the only mixed non-selective Catholic school. The other Catholic secondary schools were single sex, selective and generally fee paying.

St James'  was set in the heart of the new Watling housing estate built by the then London County Council (LCC) to provide quality accommodation. From the out-set, St James' set high standards for its students not only in dress and behaviour but most importantly academically. Students were entered for the School Certificate and encouraged to stay on beyond the school leaving age.

St James', always too small for the number of students who wished to enter its portals, has grown from an initial student population of 210 to over 1100 students.

The student intake of St James' in the early years generally reflected the status quo of the current immigrant Catholic community predominantly Irish but with significant contributions from Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Polish families and from the 60-s Afro Caribbean and Asian. This is still the case, but the numbers of second and third generation students are increasing.

From 1949 until 1996, St James' existed on two, sometimes three sites. The goal of the school community for decades had been to unite on one site. With generous backing of the Funding Agency for schools, the Archdiocese and the Dominican Sisters, consolidation on our Colindale site was achieved in September 1996. The amalgamation was a huge undertaking achieved by the tremendous hard work of staff particularly, but also governors, students, parents and friends of St James'. The transition went smoothly with relatively few hiccups - a tribute to the planning and hard work of all concerned.