St John’s RC Academy came into existence with the merger of St John’s RC Primary School and St Columba’s High School in 2009, and was officially opened by local MSP, John Swinney, in December 2011 shortly after the primary department moved into North Inch Community Campus.
This chapter in the story of Catholic education in Perth is particularly fitting as it marks the coming together, again, of our primary and secondary schools under the patronage of St John the Baptist, who is also patron of the city of Perth.
In 1832, St John the Baptist Church was opened in Melville Street under the leadership of Fr James Mackay. To serve the needs of the Catholic poor, he established a school for the children with himself as the first teacher. It wasn’t until 1860 that a permanent school was built under the management of Dr George Rigg, who later became Bishop of Dunkeld. With two teachers, Miss Douglas and Miss Cattanach, and a roll of 250 pupils, St John’s RC School was established as a parish school to serve the growing Catholic population of Perth. Initially for children aged 5–12, it expanded to serve pupils aged 5–14.
In 1947, the school became St John’s RC Junior Secondary, eventually extending the age range from 5–15. With the establishment of St Columba’s High School in 1966 (officially opened in 1967), there was a separation of the primary and secondary schools. St Columba’s eventually expanded to include pupils aged 12–18, while St John’s Primary School also expanded to include nursery pupils. Our Lady’s RC Primary School was also established in Letham in 1968 to accommodate Catholic pupils in the north of Perth.
With the merger of St John’s Primary and St Columba’s High School under the name ‘St John’s RC Academy’ the school became a 3–18 all through school, and has since expanded to include two year olds as part of our Strong Starts programme.