History of St Anne's Catholic School

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St Anne's Catholic School was founded in 1904 by the Sisters of La Sainte Union des Sacres Coeurs for the education of young women. It's stated aim: "The education it provides is firmly Christian. Its aim is to communicate Christ to its pupils and to form them as mature persons who will value their Christian responsibilities in life".

The LSU Congregation had been founded 55 years earlier by Fr Jean-Baptiste Debrabant, a French priest, in Douai, France. Education had been sadly neglected in the post-revolutionary world into which he was born. In 1826 he enlisted the help of a group of young women who shared his ideals and aspirations. These he later formed into a new congregation approved by the Catholic Church and gave it the title of "La Sainte Union des Sacrès Coeurs de Jesus et Marie (The Holy Union of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary).

Over the following decades the mission of the LSU to provide education spread across France and Belgium and in 1858 through their association with the Benedictine monks they were invited to England to set up a religious community and start La Sainte Union School in Bath. This first school later merged with another local school to became the present-day St Gregory's Catholic College. A few years later, in 1861, the Sisters were invited by Cardinal Wiseman to establish a boarding school in London which went on to become the present-day La Sainte Union Highgate. Around the same time as the Sisters were inaugurating the Convent High School in Southampton, the Sisters were establishing schools across England and Ireland, including Our Lady’s Bower in 1884 and Gray's Convent School in 1899. Later, the LSU opened St Catherine's Catholic School for Girls in 1953.

Alongside our sister schools, St Anne's Catholic School has gone from strength to strength since our inauguration, increasing in pupil numbers, teaching staff and accommodation. Notable moments being the wing containing the hall, library and about a dozen new classrooms built in 1938, the resilience of the staff and pupils during the evacuations in the Second World War, and the subsequent rebuilding that was needed, the opening of South Block in 1961, going comprehensive in 1967 (the first Direct Grant Grammar School in the country to do so), the opening of North Block in 1971 (at a cost of £180,000!) becoming a Science Specialist College in 2004, opening our sixth form to boys in 2006, double Ofsted outstanding judgements in 2016 and 2022, and an outstanding judgement for our Catholic School Inspection in 2017.

As the World has changed unrecognisably over the previous century, St Anne's Catholic School has successfully remained "Always Faithful" to its core values and ethos, while at the same time providing an education for generations of young people which reflects the original vision of Fr Debrabant and the call of La Sainte Union to be at the heart of our rapidly changing world, revealing God's love.

When the school turned 50, it celebrated its Golden Jubilee. At the time, the bishop of the diocese, Archbishop John Henry King said: "The school has grown and grown, but it is still young. The glory behind it is nothing compared with the glory that is to come." We believe those words, spoken over 50 years ago, still hold true today, and we are committed to, and excited about, ensuring St Anne's Catholic School remains a world-class school for the coming century.

Catholic Life at St Anne's