Finchley Catholic Grammar School was founded by Father (later Canon, then Monsignor Canon) Clement Henry Parsons, Parish Priest of the local Roman Catholic parish of St. Alban's, Nether Street, North Finchley. He also founded the Challoner School (a fee-paying grammar school for boys who had not passed their 11+); as well as St. Alban's Catholic Preparatory School ("The Prep" - now absorbed into Woodside Park International School) as a feeder primary for the Grammar and the Challoner Schools.
The School newsletter, "The Albanian", is named after the School's patron saint, St Alban, Britain's protomartyr. It is sent out six times a year (every half term) to all parents, governors and other key members of the School community.
The school has a Roman Catholic ethos. Religious Education is taught twice a week in Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9); and, as in all Catholic schools in England, the GCSE is compulsory (Key Stage 4 - years 10 and 11), being taught three or four times a week.
Every year, during Lent, students raise money for charities such as CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), and various local charities, including the neighbouring (and non-denominational) North London Hospice.
Finchley Catholic High School is a school for boys aged 11-16 accommodating years 7 - 11. However, a large percentage of boys who gain the required grades are happy to stay on at the school's sixth form, which also admits girls from nearby St. Michael's Catholic Grammar School.
The sixth form is increasing in size, and 25% of the intake will be offered to girls as of the 2007/8 academic year.
There is an extensive range of clubs offered in FCHS, including the highly successful Football teams, Rugby teams that often win County cups and league cups. As well as Football and Rugby teams there is a hockey team, a rowing team, and many more teams. With the new full size astroturfed pitch, and playing fields nearby, the School has a lot to offer and has produced some professional sportsmen.
The standard of Performing Arts at FCHS has increased dramatically over the past few years. The show "Remember" written by Mark Sell and Lena Santos, and performed by students of FCHS and St.Michael's, has been a major success. It is about the remembrance of the Holocaust, and has been to Poland, where it was the first-ever performance in the Auschwitz camp itself. Music includes Partisan music, and other music with Yiddish and Hebrew lyrics.
As well as "Remember" the school has performed many other plays, including 'Twelve Angry Men' and other classics.
The School offers a government-funded Engineering Club to Key Stage 3. It is currently working on making a Green energy supply to run an oxygenating system for the school pond, in the form of a wind turbine. Students are enthusiastic about this opportunity and it is run by two physicists with plenty of scientific experience.
The SNAAP club (St. Nicholas Academy for Autism Project) is held on the School premises under the auspices of Barnet. Pupils from FCHS help there every Wednesday 13:30 - 18:00. Activities are I.T. based, but sports and art are also practised commonly as well. It is a strong base with linking people on the autistic spectrum and the School. Over 200 families affected by autism attend the club.
The School's buildings vary in age and quality.
The 'White House', built around 1870 by Cubitt, is the School's oldest building. Grade II listed, it houses the School's reception, main offices, a small chapel and a medical centre.
The Bourne Block, completed in 1936, is the largest building and houses most of the classrooms, as well as the Sixth Form common room and a newly-built business centre.
The Challoner Block, completed in 1954, originally housed the separate Challoner School, until it became part of FCHS in 1971. It contains the second largest number of classrooms.
Bampfield House, a private residence built before 1920, was acquired in the early 1950s as a dormitory block for the Challoner School. FCHS used it as a music and drama centre until the construction of the Performing Arts Centre (see below).
The School Hall, built in 1956 and originally used solely as a chapel, now functions as an assembly hall.
The Stephenson Block, also known as the '1971 Block', houses the ICT and art rooms, a small library and the recently-renovated cafeteria.
The Performing Arts Centre, built in 2004 and opened by local girl Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), replaced Bampfield House as a multi-purpose music and drama centre, including three music rooms and a drama studio. It also houses a seminar room for conferences.
There are two other buildings of note. Challoner Lodge, built around 1930 as a house for the Founder's aged widowed mother, is now the School Keeper's residence. Parsons Lodge, originally the coachman's lodge for the 'White House' and also Grade II listed, was recently converted into two private flats. There is another structure, which could be mistaken for a neglected gatehouse, but is in fact the School's very own electricity substation (strictly out of bounds).
The School is made up of 5 (sometimes 6) houses, which are represented by each year's form classes, which in turn are represented by the colour of stripes on their ties. These are named after prominent catholics (mostly with some personal connection to Finchley): Bampfield (green), Bourne (blue), Feckenham (gold), Fisher (white), Challoner (red), More (purple) and Alban (orange). Purple is not always included, but sometimes another form is made to accommodate more students, typically every other year.
The forms (houses) each have their own letter, which together make up the initials of the school. This is FRCHSB, standing for Finchley Roman Catholic High School for Boys, and each letter is for a different form.
At the beginning of the 2006/07 school year, another tie colour, orange, was introduced due to a complication about the number of students admitted that year.
As stated by the School:
F(inchley) is Green Tie
R(oman) is Blue Tie
C(atholic) is Yellow Tie (often referred to as Gold - Yellow and Gold being heraldically equivalent)
H(igh) is White Tie
S(chool) is Red Tie
B(oys) is Purple Tie
A(lban) is Orange Tie
F,R,C,H and S are the only ties which appear in each year group. Once every 2 years, it seems a new year 7 group get purple (B).
When the school celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2006, it was decided to have a house to commemorate this special event, for one year only. The new house was named 'Alban', after the school's patron saint.