St Columba's College, St Albans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For others colleges of this name, see St Columba's College (disambiguation).
St Columba's College
Motto Cor ad cor loquitur
(Heart speaketh to heart)
Established 1939 - establishment of college by Philip O'Neil
1955 - college acquired by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart
Type Independent day school
Religion Catholic
Headmaster David Buxton, M.Th, M.A
Chairman of Governors Jackie Harrison, B.Ed

Philip O’Neill (1939)

Brothers of the Sacred Heart (1955)
Location King Harry Lane
St Albans
United Kingdom United Kingdom Coordinates: 51°44′35″N 0°21′00″W / 51.743°N 0.35°W / 51.743; -0.35
DfE number 919/6136
Students 850
Gender Boys
Ages 4–18


Colours Black, Red and White
Publication Opus, The Columban
Former pupils Old Columbans

St Columba's College is an, all boys, fee-paying Roman Catholic independent school for boys aged 4–18. Located in St Albans, Hertfordshire, it was founded in 1939 by Philip O’Neill before being acquired by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1955, and is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of leading independent schools. St Columba's has a reputation for academic achievement as well as excellence in sport, particularly in rugby and basketball.

Facing St Albans Cathedral across the River Ver, the college is built around two historic houses, Watling House and Iona House. It is a day school with no boarding facility available.


School uniform badge
circa 1971

The school originally opened September 22, 1939, on Beaconsfield Road before moving to its current site in 1948. In 1955, the college was taken over the Brothers of the Sacred Heart (New England Province) in 1955. Subsequently, the school rapidly grew through the 1960s as an independent Catholic school for boys.

As the years have gone on, numbers have increased dramatically (to approximately 850) and the Brothers have played less of a role in the day to day organisation of the College, though they still maintain a small presence around the College in a variety of roles - residing in Watling House, at the top of the site.

The School has recently completed a major redevelopment beginning July 2012 and ending September-October 2013. This building project has been the first major building project of the school since the 1960s. It included the building of new classrooms and new changing rooms, as well as the creation of some new offices.

House System[edit]

The original houses at the founding of the school, were Swords, Kerry and Kells. (Not sure when this changes to the four houses listed below, edit required)

Prior to 2005, both the College and the Prep had the same four houses, named after four British martyrs:

At the start or the 2005-6 academic year, a new house system was introduced in the Senior School, to provide smaller tutor groups for greater personal development of students, as well as to cater for an increase in numbers of students entering. The Prep School kept the original houses. The new houses are named after other Brothers of the Sacred Heart schools in North America (given in brackets):

Current students were assigned to the new Houses by drawing balls from a hat. New students entering the College that year were assigned randomly and this practice continued for all new students afterwards, however students related to other boys already enrolled in the college in the school are usually placed in the same house.

Students houses are represented in the school uniform by the colour of their tie (taking the respective colours as given above). Prep and 6th Form Students have their own school tie, as do prefects.


The college sits on a hillside facing St Albans Cathedral across the valley of the River Ver. The main entrance is located on King Harry Lane. The school also has a pedestrian entrance from the Westminster Lodge car park (Coach drop-off/pick-up) and a Staff entrance on St Stephen's Hill.

There are 7 buildings on the site, including 2 residential buildings (for the Headmaster and the Brothers that are resident at the School).

The main block houses the majority of departments as well as the Canteen, Coindre Hall - the main School Hall, the Library and the School's Chapel. Iona House, in the middle of the site, is the main location for many of the staff offices, including the Headmaster's office, the School also has a Careers Advisor, again situated in Iona. The Xavier Centre houses all but one of the Schools English Classrooms, and is linked to Founders Hall - the 6th Form Common Room. The Science and Technology block houses all the newly redeveloped Science Labs and Design Technology Classrooms. Finally, there is a separate building on campus for the preparatory school.

2012-2013 Redevelopment[edit]

Summer 2012 saw the start of the biggest programme of building at St Columba's College since the 1960s. Costing slightly over £3.4 million the central core of the campus was redeveloped, providing significant extra space to enable a first-class modern teaching and learning environment for our students and staff. The new build was planned to take 50 weeks however it took over 52, with final touches, such as the newly paved playground and markings, still being installed and added well up to 80 weeks afterwards. The building site was closed in July 2012 and developed throughout the course of an academic year (2012-2013), and reopened in July - August 2013, with work still to be done in the interior. It was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of St Albans, Councillor Annie Brewster on Friday 20 September 2013, and blessed during the start of term Founders’ Mass, by Br José Ignacio Carmona SC, Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and Br Robert Croteau SC, New England Provincial. The College was also honoured to be joined by Mr Sylvester Chewe, Headteacher of Shitima School in Kabwe.

The Coindre Hall, the College's gym, theatre and assembly hall (large enough to seat the whole of the Senior School), has been the centre of the development. The hall has been given a facelift, including redecoration and installation of modern energy-efficient lighting systems to provide bright light for sport as well as mood lighting for evening events.

Wrapping right around the Coindre Hall and making a real visual statement is a new building containing a modern set of classrooms, meeting/syndicate rooms, offices and a redesigned locker area. There is also a new purpose-built weights and conditioning room. This includes a range of cardio training equipment and free weights area. Core PE lessons throughout the whole school have already seen the benefits, especially in the Health-Related Fitness (HRF) module taken by all boys in Forms 3-5. This is a great way for the PE department to identify talented and able boys in each year group, and provide a fun way for all even the staff to improve and maintain healthy fitness.

The reception area has been reconfigured and greatly extended providing an impressive and welcoming space with beautiful panoramic views across the sports fields to the St Albans Cathedral. The new building has had the a knock-on effect of freeing up extra space across the site as some departments and offices have been relocated Particular beneficiaries are the Pastoral and Ministry team who now have a suite of rooms near the Chapel. This includes a meeting room, office and quiet prayer room.[1]


St Columba's College provides a broad curriculum, created so as to not limit student potential. Their curriculum is linked to the national curriculum and also to Diocese of Westminster rules - mandating the teaching of Religious Studies for a set period every week. At GCSE, core subjects include English (Literature and Language), Mathematics, Double Science and Religious Studies. It is also compulsory for Key Stage 4 students to take a modern language for at least one out of their three GCSE options. Students who joined the college prior to 2010 had the option to study either French language, Spanish language or German language, however due to extreme lack of demand, the choice to choose a German GCSE was boycotted. There are no core Subjects at A-Level, allowing students to develop personal interests and consider university options.

Since September 2012, the College introduced a new timetable of 7x 50 minute lessons, designed to give students more teaching time during the week. This was an update, from the previous 7x 45 minute lessons, plus a 20 minute tutor period. This change resulted in the school day ending at 3.45pm, instead of 3.40pm.


The School operates an extremely vast extra-curricular programme. Known in the School as the ECCA Program, the School encourages all students to take part in at least one activity each term.

Activities offered encompass a wide range of areas, activities are provided by both current School staff and Professionals that come in from out of School. A list of activities offered can be found here, St Columba's College - Activities.

Charity Work[edit]

St Columba's works closely with CAFOD to raise funds for their overseas projects.

House Charities[edit]

Each House, has its own House Charity, which it sponsors and aids throughout the academic year.[citation needed]

CAFOD - World Record Attempt[edit]

On March 14, 2012, students and staff at the College, attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the most football passes, completing 580 consecutive passes between different players. The recored was not however broken, following verification of evidence by Guinness World records

The fundraising challenge came on the back of a visit by two students from the College who travelled to Kenya last summer with the Catholic aid agency CAFOD. They visited Korogocho, one of the largest slums in the country. Emet Halkin from Enfield and Theo Spyrides (former Head Boy), both aged 16, visited the St John Sport Society, the charity's funded project that brings together children and young people living in the slum, providing them with vital access to sports lessons, clubs and other activities, and offers thousands of young Kenyans a lifeline out of violence and poverty.

Sixth former students also spent time volunteering at the local special needs school, Watling View.[2]

Pastoral Care[edit]

St Columba's College is committed to promoting and realising Gospel values in an environment of academic endeavour and personal discipline. The College works in partnership with students and parents and in accordance with the traditions of the Catholic Church and the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

Columban Fayre[edit]

The Columban Fayre is one of the main events in the School Calendar. The annual fundraiser, held every November, is used to raise money to fund projects, redevelopments or the purchase of new equipment for the coming year.

Held every year, the event attracts a wide variety of stalls, including merchant stalls raffles and games and competitions. Many shops purchase stalls to sell their goods at the event, which is held in the run up to Christmas. As the Fayre doubles up as an interhouse competition in both the Prep and Senior Schools, there is a great rivalry between houses to make the most money through their own stalls.

Some of the main attractions at the Fayre include:

  • The 1000 bottle stall - this aptly named stall is a tombola. Bottles are bought in to School by students to be placed in the tombola. The money raised at this stall is split proportionally between the houses based on the number of bottles bought in. There is normally at least 1 bottle of champagne (the main prize), and at least 1 bottle of milk (as a bogey prize)
  • The Grand Raffle - Raffle Ticket books are sold by students up to the day of the fayre (they can also be purchased on the day, though not counted towards house totals). Prizes vary every year, but 1st prize is normally £1000.
  • The Auction of Promises - Student, Parents, Houses or Organisations offer or donate gift & services to be auctioned off. Lots in the past have included tickets to sports matches, signed jerseys, meals out, the rental of villas and other services (such as laundry services). Many lots are affiliated to house, with the money raised by that lot contributing th the specified houses total.

Other stalls include "the stocks", where students can exact revenge on their teachers through medieval style punishment as well as numerous other raffles and other merchant stalls. In the prep, student have a "secret room", where they can buy presents for their families. The students are given the password to get into the room in an assembly before the Fayre.

Funds raised from the Fayre, pay for extras such as new school branded mini buses, IT software, equipment and PE equipment. There was no fayre in November 2012, due to this being the year of the new build.

Notable alumni[edit]

Old boys of the school are called Old Columbans.


  1. ^ The Columban. YUDU |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Upper Sixth, 1979-80". Old Columbans. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Form 5S, 1973-74". Old Columbans. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  5. ^ "Captain James Phillipson". Old Columbans. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  6. ^ "St Albans honours Captain Jim". St Columba's College. Retrieved 2008-06-20. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Sandridge Parish Council - Meeting 14 June 2006". Sandridge Parish Council. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 

External links[edit]