Finchley Catholic High School
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|Motto||Da Nobis Recta Sapere
(Grant that we may be truly wise)
|Type||Voluntary aided school|
|Founder||Rev Monsignor Canon C. H. Parsons|
North Finchley, London
|DfE URN||101362 Tables|
|Gender||Boys (mixed-sex 6th form)|
|Former names||Finchley Grammar School
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!).
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
- Dom Aidan Bellenger, currently Abbot of Downside Abbey; former Head Master of Downside School
- Declan Danaher, rugby player, back row London Irish
- Tony Gallagher, former Editor of the Daily Telegraph
- Giuliano Grazioli, former striker for Swindon Town and Barnet
- John Griffin, co-founder of London-based minicabs company Addison Lee
- Martin Ivens, Editor, The Sunday Times
- Dennis Kelly, theatre and television writer
- Damian McBride, former adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown; worked for a time as Business and Community Manager but has since moved to CAFOD.
- Fr. John McDonald, former chaplain to the Catholic Stage Guild
- Seán Milligan, son of Spike Milligan (famous comedian, who as co-founder of the Finchley Society, helped to get the main school building its Grade II listing)
- Paul Rincon, BBC News, broadcast journalist, specialist in science & technology
- Chas Smash, backing singer and dancer in British band Madness, also co-wrote one of their trademark hits, "Our House".
- Robbie Hance, X Factor Contestant for the 9th Series made it to Boot Camp.
Finchley Grammar School
- Derek Edwin Berry FRICS ATII, Company Secretary of Racal Electronics Limited (1969 - 1986), Founding Director of Vodafone Ltd,
- Prof Christopher Bliss, Nuffield Professor of International Economics from 1992-2007 at the University of Oxford, and brother of Jill Paton Walsh
- James Bredin, former BBC news and documentary producer, Managing Director from 1964-82 of Border Television, and directed ITN's first broadcast in 1955
- Kevin Burns CMG, High Commissioner to Barbados and Eastern Caribbean States from 1986–90, and to Ghana (concurrently Ambassador to Togo) from 1983-86
- Air Vice-Marshal Robert Chapple CB, Principal Medical Officer of the RAF from 1991–94
- Tony Chanmugam, Finance Director of BT since 2008
- Sir Frank Claringbull, mineralogical crystallographer (who worked with Lawrence Bragg), Director of the Natural History Museum from 1968–76, President from 1965-7 of the Mineralogical Association, and President from 1972-90 of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain
- Terry Forrestal, stuntman extraordinaire; former soldier
- Sir John Hegarty, founder of global advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty
- Jerry Lordan, composer of hits "Apache" and "Wonderful Land" for The Shadows
- Prof David Luscombe, Professor of Medieval History from 1972-95 at the University of Sheffield
- Troy Kennedy Martin, screenwriter; co-creator of 1960s British TV hit series Z-Cars, scripted 1960s classic The Italian Job
- John Leslie Marshall, Conservative former MEP for London North and former mayor of Barnet London Borough Council
- Eric Merriman, radio comedy writer
- Lawrence Middleton CMG, Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 1986–90
- Declan O'Farrell CBE, Chief Executive (1994–2003) of Metroline
- Prof Patrick O'Sullivan OBE, Haden-Pilkington Professor of Environmental Design and Engineering at UCL
- Nicholas J. Phillips, UK hologram pioneer
- Sir Hugh Rossi, Conservative MP for Hornsey, then Hornsey and Wood Green, 1966–92
- Prof Thomas Wiedemann, historian, former Professor of Latin from 1995-2001 at the University of Nottingham
- Finchley Catholic High School website
- St. Michael's Catholic Grammar School website
- SNAAP Club's Website