Finchley Catholic High School

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Finchley Catholic High School
Motto Da Nobis Recta Sapere
(Grant that we may be truly wise)
Established 1926
Type Voluntary aided school
Religion Roman Catholic
Headmaster Seamus McKenna
Founder Rev Monsignor Canon C. H. Parsons
Location Woodside Lane
North Finchley, London
Greater London
N12 8TA
England England Coordinates: 51°37′19″N 0°10′55″W / 51.622°N 0.182°W / 51.622; -0.182
Local authority Barnet
DfE number 302/5405
DfE URN 101362 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1124
Gender Boys (mixed-sex 6th form)
Ages 11–18
Publication The Albanian
Former names Finchley Grammar School
Challoner School

Finchley Catholic High School is a boys' secondary school with a coeducational sixth form in North Finchley, part of the London Borough of Barnet.


Finchley Catholic High School, as its name declares, is a faith school; it is also - up to the end of Year 11 - exclusively for boys.

It is a school for boys aged 11–18, with a mixed-sex Sixth Form. The sixth form is increasing in size, and 25% of the intake is offered to girls since the 2007-08 academic year.


The school is situated to the west of Finchley's High Road (A1000), and immediately to the east of that stretch of the Northern Line which constitutes the school's western boundary. Lying adjacent to the postcode boundaries of Whetstone (N20) and Woodside Park (N12), it is roughly half-way between Woodside Park tube station and Totteridge and Whetstone tube station.


Finchley Catholic Grammar School was founded in 1926 by the redoubtable Canon (later Monsignor Canon) Clement Henry Parsons (1892–1980), parish priest of St. Alban's Roman Catholic church, Nether Street, North Finchley. He founded the Challoner School (a fee-paying grammar school for boys who had not passed their 11+); as well as St. Alban's Catholic Preparatory School ("The Prep" - now absorbed into Woodside Park International School) as a feeder primary for the Grammar and Challoner schools. 1971 saw its two institutional forbears, Finchley Catholic Grammar School ("Finchley Grammar") and the Challoner School, merge to become Finchley Catholic High School). It was the sister school of the all-girls St. Michael's Catholic Grammar School during the grammar school era.

The school started as a private initiative and parents were able to consider allowing their children to remain at school for longer. They were even willing and able to pay limited fees to the school. In a short time demand outgrew accommodation, the school had to extend. An appeal from the pulpit by Canon Parsons began the collection that by Christmas 1928 had produced enough money to purchase a building. Woodside Grange seemed an ideal site for the new school but it took the intervention of the Anglican Bishop of London to complete the purchase. The deal was finalised and the building taken over in September 1929. The changes in the education system led to the care of the house and grounds being split between the Governors, the Local Authority and the Archdiocese of Westminster. Each was charged with keeping one part of the house in good order. The school grew and the use of the house was restricted to the staff and A level pupils.

The decision to demolish the seriously deteriorated house was taken by two council workmen who, in 1972, when sent to repair the porch found that it was covered in valuable lead, and might require some skill to repair. By then the school had ceased to be a grammar school and become a comprehensive. A former pupil of the school saw the damage being done and wrote to the local and national newspapers, leading to a temporary preservation order being placed on the house. Reginald Maudling asked a parliamentary question on the matter. When asked about the removal of the building from the list of buildings of architectural merit, the Minister of the Environment, Anthony Crosland, replied that the member for Chipping Barnet had been misinformed. This was countered with a photocopy of the document being slapped onto the dispatch box and the government decided to put the building back on the list and listed Grade II.[citation needed]


Its motto, Da Nobis Recta Sapere (Grant that we may be truly wise) comes from the collect (opening prayer) of the Mass of Pentecost. The school newsletter, "The Albanian", is named after the school's patron saint, St Alban, Britain's protomartyr. It is sent out six times a year (every half term) to all parents, governors and other key members of the school community.


The school has a Catholic ethos. Religious education is taught twice a week in Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9); and, as in all Catholic schools in England, the GCSE is compulsory (Key Stage 4 - years 10 and 11), also being taught twice weekly.

Products with the Fairtrade Certification Mark are encouraged, and the school has an action group dedicated to making Barnet a Fairtrade borough. Every year, during Lent, pupils raise money for charities such as CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), and various local and national charities, including the neighbouring (and non-denominational) North London Hospice.


There is an extensive range of clubs offered in FCHS, including football and rugby teams. Facilities include a recently installed full size astroturf pitch and playing fields in nearby Southover, a street in Woodside Park Garden Suburb, the other side of Dollis Brook.

Music & drama[edit]

The standard of Performing Arts at FCHS has increased dramatically over the past few years. The show "Remember" written by Mark Sell and Lena Santos, and performed by students of FCHS and St. Michael's, has been a major success. It is about the remembrance of the Holocaust, and has been to Poland, where it was the first-ever performance in the Auschwitz camp itself. Music includes partisan music, and other music with Yiddish and Hebrew lyrics.

Science & engineering[edit]

The school offers a government-funded Engineering Club to Key Stage 3. It is currently working on making a green energy supply to run an oxygenating system for the school pond, in the form of a wind turbine.


French or German or Spanish are compulsory throughout Key Stage 3, and optional at GCSE. French is also taught up to A2 level. There are after-school lessons in Latin, which is available up to GCSE.


The SNAAP club (St. Nicholas Academy for Autism Project) is held on the school premises under the auspices of Barnet. Pupils from FCHS help there every Wednesday 15:30 - 18:00. Activities are I.T. based, but sports and art are also practised commonly as well. It is a strong base with linking people on the autistic spectrum and the school. Over 200 families with members affected by autism attend the club.

School buildings[edit]

The school's buildings vary in age and quality:

  • The 'White House', built around 1870 by Cubitt, is the school's oldest building. Grade II listed, it houses the school's reception, main offices, a small chapel and a medical centre.
  • The Bourne Block, completed in 1936, is the largest building and houses most of the classrooms, as well as the Sixth Form common room and a newly built business centre.
  • The Challoner Block, completed in 1954, originally housed the separate Challoner School, until it became part of FCHS in 1971. It contains the second largest number of classrooms.
  • Bampfield House, a private residence built before 1920, was acquired in the early 1950s as a dormitory block for the Challoner School. FCHS used it as a music and drama centre until the construction of the Performing Arts Centre (see below).It was demolished in 2013 and is now home to the Canon Parsons Sixth Form Centre which opened in 2014
  • The School Hall, built in 1956 and originally used solely as a chapel, now functions as an assembly hall.
  • The Stephenson Block, (named after the late chemistry teacher, "Mo" Stephenson), also known as the '1971 Block', houses the ICT and art rooms, a small library and the recently renovated cafeteria.
  • The Performing Arts Centre, built in 2004 and opened by local girl Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), replaced Bampfield House as a multi-purpose music and drama centre, including three music rooms and a drama studio. It also houses a seminar room for conferences.
  • Canon Parsons Sixth Form Centre bulit in 2014 and opened by Bishop John Sherrington it cost £3 million to bulit.It replaced the former music and drama centre Bampfield house

There are two other buildings of note.

  • Challoner Lodge (originally 'Feckenham Lodge'), built around 1930 as a kind of dower house for the founder's aged mother, is now the school keeper's residence.
  • Parsons Lodge, originally the coachman's lodge for the 'White House' and also Grade II listed, was recently converted into two private flats.
  • There is another structure, which could be mistaken for a neglected gatehouse, but is in fact the school's very own electricity substation (strictly out of bounds!).

School houses[edit]

The school is made up of 5 (sometimes 6) houses, which are represented by each year's form classes, which in turn are represented by the colour of stripes on their ties. These are named after prominent Catholics (mostly with some personal connection to Finchley): Bampfield (green), Bourne (blue), Feckenham (gold), Fisher (white), Challoner (red), More (orange) and Alban (purple). Purple is not always included, but sometimes another form is made to accommodate more pupils, typically every other year.

The forms (houses) each have their own letter, which together make up the initials of the school. This is FRCHSB, standing for Finchley Roman Catholic High School for Boys, and each letter is for a different form.

At the beginning of the 2006-07 school year, another tie colour, orange, was introduced due to a complication about the number of pupils admitted that year.

As stated by the school:

  • F(inchley) is Green Tie. Bampfield
  • R(oman) is Blue Tie. Bourne
  • C(atholic) is Gold Tie (often referred to as Yellow - Yellow and Gold being heraldically equivalent). Feckenham
  • H(igh) is White Tie. Fisher
  • S(chool) is Red Tie. Challoner
  • B(oys) is Purple Tie.
  • A(lban) is Orange Tie.
  • F, R, C, H and S are the only ties which appear in each year group. Once every 2 years, it seems a new year 7 group get purple (B).

In 2006 many secondary-transfer applications were lost in the post. After appeals by many parents, the school decided to take an additional class. As the school was celebrating its 80th anniversary, it was decided to commemorate this house to Alban hence the 'More Alban'. This event has only happened once.

Notable old boys[edit]

Finchley Grammar School[edit]

External links[edit]