St Michael's Catholic High School

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Saint Michael's Catholic High School
Motto Veritas (Latin: "Truth")
Established 1955
Type Academy
Religion Roman Catholic
Headmaster Mr Edward Conway
Chair of Governors Mr K Rylett
Location High Elms Lane
WD25 0SS
England England
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Students 1068
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Houses Fountains, Iona, Kells, Lindisfarne, Rievaulx, Whitby
Colours Blue, White, Black

Saint Michael's Catholic High School is a secondary school with academy status located in the town of Watford, Hertfordshire. A Section 5 Ofsted inspection in December 2014 and a Section 48 Inspection by the Archdiocese of Westminster in February 2007 both judged the school as outstanding. In September 2010, headteacher John Murphy was succeeded by Edward Conway.


Saint Michael's Catholic High School was founded by the Dominican Sisters in 1955, opening its gates for the first time in September of the same year. The choice of location was a direct result of an influx of families moving out of Central and North West London to South Hertfordshire, many of whom were of Irish and/or Italian descent. Before Saint Michael's opened, there was no Roman Catholic Secondary School in the county. This caused considerable challenges to the existing Holy Rood Primary School, which provided education to the age of 14. The opening of St Michael's was planned in conjunction with new feeder primaries.[citation needed]

The school became a comprehensive school in 1966, thus catering for the full range of student abilities. This brought with it the first significant enlargement of the facilities. The science laboratories and new classrooms supplemented the original main corridor as part of the restructuring. In the 1990s the school spent a period of time under grant-maintained schools status. This led to the construction of the current administration block. Since 2000 there has been considerable upgrading of existing buildings in addition to construction of completely new wings. The first of these was the Saint Martin de Porres wing which houses the English department and Drama Studio. Next came a floodlit astroturf, providing all-weather outdoor sports facilities. Then came Saint Mary's wing, housing the Geography department and a media centre.[citation needed]

In September 2005, Saint Michael's Catholic High School became a Humanities specialist college. A new Sixth Form block, the Aquinas Centre, was opened in September 2008, followed by the new Saint Bernadette Sports Hall in March 2010. The additional funding that came with this accolade was primarily used to construct the Saint Mary's wing. The school is now an academy, part of the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust.[citation needed]

In January 2015, William Hague (leader of the House of Commons) visited the school.

Pastoral structure

The school standard intake number is 168, but can accommodate up to 180 students per annum in six tutor groups. Each tutor group is named after a monastic institution of learning, namely: Fountains Abbey, Iona Abbey, Abbey of Kells, Lindisfarne Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey and Whitby Abbey. Students generally remain with the same tutor group throughout their education and year groups are therefore crossed vertically by house groups. Assemblies are conducted in year groups whereas school Masses are celebrated in house groups. Each year group is led by a Pastoral Academic Learning Co-Ordinator (PALC), who is in turn supported by six tutors and additional staff. Students aged 16–18 progress into the Sixth Form.[citation needed]


Saint Michael's Catholic High School is held in high esteem by the local community in Watford, The Archdiocese of Westminster and Hertfordshire County Council (Children, Schools and Families). As a Catholic community the school is Christocentric and emphasises, through its ambitious Mission Statement "Bringing Christ to All and All to Christ", excellence in all things, particularly in relationships and care for the most needy.

The community choir regularly sings in neighbouring parishes, both Roman Catholic, Anglican and other denominations. The orchestra regularly performs at Saint Mary's Church in central Watford. Both the choir and orchestra are regularly involved in Archdiocesan liturgical celebrations. The school regularly produces its news magazine, The Word. Since September 2007, this has been sponsored by the Watford Observer newspaper, which publishes the magazine on a termly basis a supplement to its newspaper.[citation needed]

Other awards

In October 2007 Ofsted acknowledged Saint Michael's as a "particularly successful school" and the Specialist College Trust hailed the school at BAFTA as one of England's "High Performing Specialist Colleges". This success was repeated in February 2009 when Ofsted judged the school "outstanding" in every category during a focused inspection on Literacy and Numeracy. The Physical Education Department has a philosophy of inspiring the athlete in all, which contributes to Sport England's awarding of Sportsmark gold to the school. There is an annual Gym and Dance Display. In March 2010, more than 250 students took part. In March 2010, the school was designated a Centre of Excellence in Geography, one of only eighteen in the country.


The Garston Campus partnership involves Saint Michael's Catholic High School and Parmiter's School, both of which are situated on High Elms Lane. Inter-school departmental meetings take place twice per academic year. The 14-19 St Alban's Consortium comprises St Michael's Catholic High School, Nicholas Breakspear School, St Albans Girls' School and Loreto College. The Consortium was formed in response to the government's Extended Schools initiative. Saint Michael's Catholic High School is the hub school for this group.

Notable former pupils

Notable former staff

External links