About Us

St James is an independent primary school with a distinctive spiritual ethos of inclusion and unity.  Our highest purpose is the constant search for Truth and it’s our love for wisdom that helps us see everything and everyone as interdependent.  We welcome children of all faiths and those of none.

Our commitment to the school motto of Truth ~ Love ~ Service, shapes our characters and values, which in turn, shapes how we perform on the playground, sports field, stage, and yes, even in tests and exams.

Every child is acknowledged as pure, perfect and complete, as they share the same divine nature which is full of vitality, happiness and knowledge.  From the tender age of four, the children learn to cultivate an inner stillness, which prepares them steadily for meditation from the age of twelve.

As part of a worldwide education community with international recognition, students and parents can be confident that Cambridge qualifications will be understood at home in South Africa, and abroad. St James’ track record in the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint Exams in the three core subjects, i.e. Maths, Science and English, is nothing short of stellar, with 100% achievements being regularly attained.

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"An important pillar for any school is its cornerstone beliefs and principles, its mission and vision. The school has a deeply flowing spiritual current that feeds and nourishes all its programmes and activities, its teaching and learning."

Mission Statement

- The provision of good material and good company, for the children learn and copy most from real examples

- Avoidance of pressure is essential, as for children, practice and pleasure, learning and enjoyment go together

- Through love and discipline establish respect for authority and an understanding of the relationship between duties and rights, and teach good manners so that the children may conduct themselves with dignity

- To produce people of strong character who are self-reliant, self-disciplined, upright and truthful.

The St James Schools were founded in 1975 in the United Kingdom.

The vision is to give disciplined practice in spiritual, mental and physical fields, including training in appropriate skills. The children are given information of the simple principles of spiritual knowledge, knowledge of the universe, man and the individual’s relation thereto, in the belief that the child really knows, and, if the information is given simple and accurately enough, it will connect with that inner knowledge and make it available to the child. They are reminded of their human duty.

Students at St James are presented with the best scripture, literature and music, including the Bible, the Gita, Shakespeare, Mozart and Plato. They are presented with the great languages at the heart of civilisation, like Sanskrit; they are also given a real insight into Mathematics and Science so that they may grow to understand how the universe is ordered and governed.

Every subject is used to expand the child's view of creation, so that an appreciation arises of the great Creator itself.

The school provides a carefully balanced education to encourage the unfolding and development of the whole person. In order to preserve this wholeness, the spiritual, mental and physical aspects of instruction are presented as interconnected and interdependent.

Love and discipline are not opposites, but are seen as key ingredients to a happy and wholesome childhood.

At St James we all strive to live up to the school motto:

Truth - Love - Service

Leon MacLaren was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1910. His father Andrew MacLaren was a Member of Parliament and taught his son from a young age to value truth and justice. Leon trained as a barrister and was admitted to the Bar in 1938.

He believed natural law and universal principles were paramount and that the best way to share his knowledge, thinking and practice was to start a school of philosophy for adults, which he did during World War II in London. He subsequently founded a number of schools for adults around the world, which were flooded with enthusiastic students, each decade seeing interest and numbers growing.

Over the years, Mr MacLaren met great thinkers, educators and spiritual teachers from Britain, Europe and the East. He and his students were challenged and inspired by the commonality of principles and theories shared by East and West. He constantly challenged his adult students to transcend their limitations, to lay aside their ideas and opinions, and to search for and apply natural law and universal principles. In the mid-1960s Mr MacLaren met Sri Shantananda Sarasvati who taught him about Vedantic knowledge and meditation as practised in India. By combining study and meditation, Mr MacLaren realised that a student could move from theory to deep understanding. Sri Shantananda Sarasvati and Mr MacLaren met regularly over a period of thirty years, during which time much knowledge was communicated about education.

Mr MacLaren dedicated his working life to exploring a broad range of subjects including philosophy, economics, law, calligraphy, education, science, art, architecture, language, renaissance music, theatre and dance. Many of the adult schools which he founded have gone on to establish day schools for children. Subjects offered today for adults and children continue to emphasise, magnify and instil a love of fineness and purity of both mind and action.

Source: A Celebration of the Life of Leon MacLaren 1910-1994

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St James is a multi-cultural independent school with a very distinctive ethos based on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. It is a philosophy of unity where the essence of every child is recognised and acknowledged as divine and perfect. We all have different individual characteristics, but behind these differences, we share the same divine nature which is full of happiness, vitality and knowledge.

This ethos makes for a school where divisions and separations of culture and social background are easily transcended.

"We chose St James because the school's ethos aligns to our values as a family. We've stayed with St James because we've found the environment to be nurturing for both of our children."

Yumna Keraan

What past students say about St James...

St James is a truly special school as it gave me a solid foundation in life from which to build. From the teachers who ensured classes were always interesting and fun, to the kitchen staff who prepared our amazing lunches, we wanted for nothing. This combined with St James' unique approach to education gave me the best possible primary school experience.

Alumni Robert Petzer - Class of 2003

St James had a great influence on the person I am today, I am a resilient, strong-willed and positive individual. I am able to overcome any challenge. Thanks to St James.

Alumni Preshani Penta - Class of 2008

I believe all the spiritual learnings and practices helped me to become the person I am today, from pausing before each activity to serving your neighbor first. Academically I was always motivated by my teachers to achieve my very best and as a result, I excelled in my later years.
Alumni Jagriti Prema - Class of 2004