School History

St Sophia’s School was first founded in 1922 during a campaign on the part of the Greek community in London to raise money for refugees of the Asia Minor disaster. Archimandrite Ilarion Basdeka of St Sophia church, one of the driving forces behind the fund-raising, decided to set up a Saturday school as part of his desire to help not only the children of refugees but also all poor Greek children living in London. The archimandrite and two assistants would gather their pupils in the church’s crypt every Saturday morning and teach them Greek.

The school that we know today was set up at the end of the 50s with Father Aristarchos (Mavrakis) as headmaster. The churchwardens of the time agreed that the church should provide the school with £250 annually. There were 100 pupils, divided into 5 classes, three in the Crypt and two in the Vicarage. One of the teachers, Kostas Alatopoulos, who assisted Father Aristarchos greatly in the restructuring of the school introduced Modern Greek GCE (O-Levels, today’s GCSEs and A-Levels) thus ensuring that pupils stayed for longer than the original primary school level of education. St Sophia’s school was the first Greek community school to offer these external examinations.

As the school improved, so did its requirements: proper classrooms, desks and of course more funds. In 1963 Archimandrite Timotheos (Katsiyiannis) became headmaster and a governing body was set up. The crypt was divided into three smaller spaces and housed 9 classes and over 150 pupils. Moreover during the 60s the school took children to summer camps in Greece. Within two years there was a choir, a Greek dancing group who performed at various fetes and celebrations of the Greek community and in 1966 the school gave an unforgettable performance at London’s Palace Theatre, inaugurating a golden age for the school. In 1966 the school opened an annexe in North Haringey which met on Mondays and Wednesdays and which lasted till 1977.

In the late 70s, the Inner London Education Authority allocated classrooms in two schools, Hallfield and College Park, to house St Sophia’s School.

In September 1997, Nicholas Voliotis was appointed headmaster to replace Father Timotheos and in the following year the school moved to Holland Park Comprehensive. In July 1998 Bishop Timotheos resigned from the governing body due to his retirement from the church and sadly passed away just six months later. In his memory, the governors decided to award prizes to four pupils who showed all round progress and contribution to the school. The prizes continue to this day and are in the form of book vouchers with a certificate presented by the Chairman at the annual 25th March celebration.

The school moved to its present premises in January 2010 and Dr Voliotis retired at the end of that academic year. He was replaced by Alexandra Samara, his deputy, as interim head for the duration of the Autumn Term. The school moved to its present premises in January 2011, with Mrs Samara as headmistress and Dr Olga Fakatseli as deputy head.