St Katharine's School was established in 1916 by Mrs Ethel Fielding as a privately owned school in a house in Rhodes Avenue, Parktown. She had been trained at St Katharine's Teacher Training College in London, and came out to the dusty mining town of Johannesburg to teach. She was headmistress for 25 years.
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The South African Schools Act (SASA) of 1996 established a national schooling system and recognised two categories of schools: public and independent. Public schools are state controlled and independent schools are privately governed. All private schools were included into the independent school category.