St. Michael's Catholic High School

St. Michael's Catholic High School

Infobox UK school
name = St Michael's Catholic High School
latitude = 51.703
longitude = -0.389
motto = "Veritas" (Latin: "Truth")
established = 1955
type = comprehensive, voluntary aided
religion = Roman Catholic
president =
head_label = Headmaster
head = John Murphy
r_head_label =
r_head =
chair_label = Chair of Governors
chair = Mr T McKinlay
specialist = Humanities
specialist_pl =
street = High Elms Lane
city = Garston
county = Hertfordshire
country = England flagicon|England
postcode = WD25 0SS
phone = 01923 673760
fax = 01923 680511
LEA = Hertfordshire County Council
ofsted = 117589
enrollment = 1068
gender = Mixed
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 18
houses = Fountains, Iona, Kells, Lindisfarne, Rievaulx, Whitby
colours = Green, White
publication =
free_label_1 =
free_1 =
free_label_2 =
free_2 =
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website =
website_name =

St. Michael's Catholic High School, located in the town of Watford, Hertfordshire. A Section 5 Ofsted inspection in October 2007 and a Section 48 Inspection by the Archdiocese of Westminster in November 2007 both judged the school as "outstanding". It is led by Head Teacher John Murphy STB MA.


St. 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 Irish immigrants to Watford who came to construct the M1 Motorway. Prior to the school's opening, 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 Catholic High School was planned in conjunction with new feeder primaries.

Originally a secondary modern school, St. Michael's Catholic High School became a comprehensive school in the 1970s, 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 St. 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 the St. Mary Wing, housing the Geography department and a media centre. Currently a new Sixth Form block, the Aquinas Centre, is under construction. This will be immediately followed by a new sports hall in July 2008.

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, Kells Abbey, 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.

Specialist Status

In keeping with current government policy that schools in England and Wales should adopt a specialism, since September 2005, St. Michael's Catholic High School has been a Humanities specialist college. The additional funding that came with this accolade was primarily used to construct the St. Mary Wing. Lead departments are under the title of Theology and Philosophy, English and Geography. All three departments have a lasting track record of excellence in examination results.


St. 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. There is a longstanding tradition of excellence in musicals, going back to the earliest days of the school under Sister Francis O.P. The most recent of these has been Les Misérables School Edition performed in January 2008. The community choir regularly sings in neighbouring parishes, both Roman Catholic, Anglican and other denominations. The orchestra regularly performs at St. 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.

Further afield, the Rwandan Partnership encourages students to think on a global Christian scale. Having already equipped a clinic in Mbuga, through sponsored walks and enterprise initiatives the school went on to purchase a four wheel drive ambulance. It is now building houses.

Other Awards

In October 2007 Ofsted acknowledged St. Michael's Catholic High School as a "particularly successful school" and the Specialist College Trust hailed the school at BAFTA as one of England's "High Performing Specialist Colleges". 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 which typically 150 students take part.

The Investors in People Award has been a feature of the school for the last five years. This recognises the importance of staff training as well as students and is seen as an integral part of the school as an active Christian community.


The school is involved with several partnerships, all of which seek to share good practice with other schools.There has been a long standing partnership with the Catholic Junior schools in the Deanery. The One World Festival in October celebrates shared Catholic values through music, dance, drama and prayer. The Annual Sports Day with Junior Schools cements mutual commitment to a healthy life style and healthy eating. The Annual Master Classes in Philosophy and the laboratory National Curriculum Science Days mean that the most able budding scientists from the Junior Schools can benefit from senior school facilities.The Garston Campus partnership involves St. 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. St. Michael's Catholic High School is the hub school for this group.

Notable Former Students

* Paul Robinson currently plays for West Bromwich Albion F.C.
* Adam Bowden is a member of the England Athletics Team
* Roisin Skehill danced with Michael Flatley in Riverdance and now runs her own dance school
* Stephen Davis sang the part of "Bill Bobstay" in The New D'Oyly Carte recording of H.M.S. Pinafore. He is currently playing the parts of "Combeferre" and The "Bishop of Digne" in the West End production of Les Misérables.
* Christopher Holt is a regular performer in the West End, having appeared in Les Misérables and The Lion King.
* Sean Sonner played for the England Under 18 Football Team
* Gary Phillips played for and then managed Barnet F.C.
* Graham Martin-Dye competed in the Manchester Commonwealth Games as a member of the England Water Polo Team
* Nigel Callaghan played for Watford F.C., Aston Villa F.C. and Derby County F.C. He also represented England at Under-21 level.
* Caroline Wright played for the England Women's Cricket Team
* Gareth Brady is a clarinetist of international fame
* Kevin O'Connor is an internationally known Irish violinist. His C.D. recordings are released on the Malgamú label.
* Colin Goldie is world known for his Overton Irish Whistles (as used in "Riverdance")

Notable Former Staff

* Eryl McNally was Member of the European Parliament for the East of England
* Kate Rainsford is a noted authoress of children's books and a local magistrate
* Father Desmond Cantwell became Provincial Head of the Salvatorian Order
* John Ridgewell was coach to the Under 16 Girls' England Basketball Team
* Laura Brown joined the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta under the leadership of Mother Teresa
* Amanda Morgan became England's first Advanced Skills Teacher

External links

* [ School website]
* [ Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster]
* [ Watford Observer]
* [ Official website]
* [ Hertfordshire Direct]
* [ BBC]
* [ FREdome]

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