St Columba's College, St Albans

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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
Founder Philip O’Neill (1939)
Brothers of the Sacred Heart (1955)
Location King Harry Lane
St Albans
United Kingdom United Kingdom
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DfE number 919/6136
Students 850
Gender Boys
Ages 4–18
Houses      Charles


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

St Columba's College is a 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. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of leading independent schools.

Facing St Albans Cathedral across the River Ver, the college is built around two historic houses, Watling House and Iona House.


School uniform badge
circa 1971

The school originally opened 22 September 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. Currently, its student body numbers approximately 850.

House System

Prior to 2005, both the College and the Prep had the same four houses, named after four English Catholic 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 Sixth Form Students have their own school tie, as do prefects.


St Columba's College provides a broad curriculum 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.

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 a change 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.

Charity Work

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

House Charities

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

Pastoral Care

St Columba's College is committed to promoting and realising Christian 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

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.

Notable alumni

Old boys of the school are called Old Columbans.


  1. "Upper Sixth, 1979-80". Old Columbans. Retrieved 30 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Form 5S, 1973-74". Old Columbans. Retrieved 30 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Captain James Phillipson". Old Columbans. Retrieved 20 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "St Albans honours Captain Jim". St Columba's College. Retrieved 20 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  5. "Sandridge Parish Council - Meeting 14 June 2006". Sandridge Parish Council. Retrieved 20 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links