During 1968 meetings were held to consider the possibility of establishing a new Catholic College for boys in order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing parishes of Bentleigh, East Bentleigh, Cheltenham, Highett, Moorabbin East and Ormond. Within eighteen months, approval was given by the Archbishop of Melbourne and plans were developed to establish St James Regional College in Bignell Rd on land purchased from James A. Kennedy. The acquisition of this property was providential as the former extensive market garden area gave way to the fast spreading residential thrust of the 1960s.
Classes began in 1970 in temporary accommodation at St Peter's Parish while the first stage of building was being completed. At the invitation and request of the Cardinal Archbishop, the De La Salle Brothers undertook the task of establishing and developing the new College. This was most fortuitous as the Brothers gave an assurance for the final two years of Secondary schooling by entry either to De La Salle College, Malvern, or to St Bede's College, Mentone. And so was established a bond among the three Colleges to ensure a full secondary education for boys in the Catholic and Lasallian traditions.
Stage 1 of the building programme was ready for occupation in February 1971. This comprised an Administrative and Staff Centre, six classrooms, a Science laboratory, provision for Art and Craft as well as playground and toilet facilities.
The initial enrolment was open to boys from the parishes involved in the planning and financing of the new College. Expansion of the member parishes took in Murrumbeena (1977), East Brighton (1978), Oakleigh South (1979) and Clayton South (1984).
By 1974 Stage 2 of building was completed, enabling the four Year levels to be housed in excellent accommodation. The Parents and Friends Association undertook the initial development of a sports oval at the rear of the College.
Towards the end of 1980, tenders were called for the construction of a permanent Library/Resource Centre as well as extended staff facilities. This was a Centre providing a learning environment for individual research as well as catering for group interaction and discussion. It gave open access to printed, audio and visual media as well as online resources with appropriate technology for students to copy, store and transfer information.
Next, the College Board and Staff directed attention to providing a multi-purpose building. The plan of two years materialised in the construction of the Gymnasium - a general sports area with change facilities, a College assembly auditorium, a location for Drama productions, students' displays and Parents' Association functions.
The advances in Information Technology was embraced by the College management and staff resulting today in five special equipped laboratories and the introduction of 1 to 1 iPad technology for staff and students in 2012 & 2013. Provision has been made for computers in the Visual Communication & Design and Media Studies areas, as well as in the Learning Support Centre.
Most recently, upgrading the outdoor sports facilities has resulted in a first class Soccer pitch and provision for Cricket on a new synthetic wicket. A multi court hard surface has the facility for Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball and Netball.
2004-6 saw the replacement of the original temporary classrooms of 1970 by a modern Open Education area incorporating Graphic Design, Industrial Arts, Media Studies, and a College Chapel. The renovation of the main classroom buildings occurred 2007-2010.
Following the formulation of our College Masterplan in 2013, a number of building and development stages have been proposed. The initial stage for development is a Visual and Performing Arts Centre to be constructed on the site of the former Brother’s Residence at the front of the College. This facility was completed in mid 2016 providing much need contemporary educational spaces for our students including: performance theatre, music and drama areas, visual arts spaces, hospitality areas and a gallery space, as well as significant landscaping at the front of the College to complete the project.
Other stages include the redevelopment of the College Courtyard areas to provide an all-weather outdoor area, and then the redevelopment of the Science laboratories, Library/Resource Centre and Staff areas in later years.
St James College has maintained its standing in the local educational community having strong links with the Southern Independent Schools Association and the Lasallian Schools in Melbourne. St James College provides an ideal opportunity for young men to grow and mature in a safe, nurturing and encouraging environment.