St James Catholic College has been built upon the traditional lands of the Merlukerdee people.
In 1896 the Sisters of St Joseph arrived in Cygnet to teach at St Mary’s School on a site adjacent to the present school. In 1921 the Sisters moved to new premises on the current school site but under the name of Sacred Heart School. Twenty three years later the Christian Brothers were invited to develop an Agricultural College for the boys in the Cygnet community. This was named Lourdes Hill Agricultural College and its classrooms were those which had been used until this point by the Sisters for the Sacred Heart School. These same classrooms remain in use today.
After the arrival of the Brothers, the Sisters moved to a newly built block of six classrooms and continued a school for the junior boys and all the girls through to leaving certificate. It was now known as St James School in line with the new Spanish style Catholic Church, built in 1939 and named after the apostle St James. Right through until the mid 1970s the Sisters and the Brothers continued to operate the two separate schools divided only by a paling fence.
The amalgamation of the two schools began tentatively with some classes shared in a co-instruction model. As the numbers of religious teachers began to decline the school moved to a lay Principal in 1976. The school now took on the title of a College and was known as St James College. The College was fully co-educational. From 2008 the school name changed to St James Catholic College.
From humble beginnings the College has continued to develop across the years as buildings have been added and refurbishments undertaken.