The school was opened in 1879 at the Wesleyan school chapel adjoining the Girls’ Boarding School, Katukele – Kandy, under the management of Mrs Langdon. Miss Payne, the next principal arrived in Colombo on 31 July 1879 but left the school in 1880. In May 1880 Miss Hay came from England and the school, which had 10 on the roll at its inception, increased to 70 and was registered to obtain a grant-in-aid from the government.
As numbers increased, in 1881 the school shifted to the more commodious precincts of the Mission in Brownrigg Street, but boarders remained at Katukele. Classes were held behind the church. Long desks and forms without backs and heavy pews from the church were moved weekly when classes had to take turn in writing. There were no games, Guiding, debating or netball, not even a library.