St James' Independent Schools in London (UK) are three fee-paying schools for children aged 4 to 18. The Juniors' and Senior Girls' Schools are in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and the Senior Boys' School in Ashford, Surrey.
The School of Economic Science, through associated overseas schools, supports independent children's schools in a number of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland (John Scottus School), the West Indies and the United States.
The Education Renaissance Trust, a UK registered charity, was founded by the SES in 1998 with the aim of "[making their] philosophy of education based on spiritual values available more widely". The ERT provides support and funding for the St James schools worldwide, and currently runs inset training days for teachers in UK state schools. The Chair of this charitable Trust is Nicholas Debenham.
St Vedast's School for Boys, at Sarum Chase in West Heath Road, Hampstead, London, was sold in January 2005 for £9,300,000. The building is now a private residence.
Though St James' Schools are not academically selective upon entrance, pupils from both the Senior Boys' and Senior Girls' have been accepted to many of the country's leading universities including Oxbridge, Durham, St Andrews, Bristol, Exeter, UEA, as well as those in the United States: Stanford, UC Berkeley and Princeton have all accepted candidates from St James' Schools over the past few years.
Notable former pupils include:Clara Salaman, actress, The Bill
Emily Watson, actress, star of Breaking the Waves and Appropriate Adult
The St James' Schools are legally independent from the School of Economic Science. They seek to preserve the ethos of their founding philosophical principles which are derived from the Advaita Vedanta philosophical tradition, which the schools describe as encompassing the concept of unity, and of a multicultural approach which embraces all faiths – and no faith. Philosophy is taught and transcendental meditation is an optional practice in the schools.
In the early 1980s the London Evening Standard ran a critical series of articles focusing on the School's discipline regime and its links to the School of Economic Science.
An independent inquiry into mistreatment of pupils between 1975 and 1985 at St James' and its then sister school St Vedast's, which closed in 1985, was funded by the schools and chaired by James Townend QC. The report, published in January 2006, concluded that "mental and physical mistreatment" of some pupils had occurred, including "criminal assaults" by teachers, during the ten-year period considered by the inquiry. Townend's report also found that throughout this period the schools' management and governors were failing to the extent that they "were not in any real sense in charge of the Schools".
In his conclusion, Townend stated that there had been "a real change of ethos and conduct of the schools" since the period of abuses he identified in his report.