The school provides a day or residential education for hearing impaired children and young people. In the primary stage it uses the Maternal Reflective Method of language teaching, pioneered by Father Van Uden in the Netherlands at St. Michielsgestel school for the Deaf. Post-16 young people are provided with note-takers to support them when they attend local colleges, in particular York College and Askham Bryan College.
The school was subject to controversy in 2008, when compensation was awarded to seven men who were victims of a paedophile priest employed at the school between 1975 and 1980.
Gabby Logan (the school's patron) presented a BBC Radio 4 Appeal on Easter Sunday 2009 to raise funds for an Expressive Arts Resource (EAR) the school is building. Various fundraising activities have taken place since this appeal in the school, but St. John's is yet to meet its targets.
Catholic priest paedophile settlement controversy
In September 2008, the Diocese of Leeds agreed to out-of-court settlements with seven men who had attended the school in the 1970s, and had been the victims of abuse by a paedophile priest employed by the school. Controversially, the priest, Father Neil Gallanagh was not gaoled for the abuses which took place at the school from 1975 to 1980.
Ofsted inspected the school in 2008 and found it to be Grade 4, "Inadequate", stating that "Significant improvement is required to ensure the school's recruitment policies and procedures comply with all the legislative requirements for the safeguarding of pupils", however the "Effectiveness of the sixth form" (16 – 19 years of age) achieved grade 1 outstanding. Ofsted inspected again in January 2009, and assessed the school as Grade 2, "Good", stating "[T]he school has swiftly put matters right and all the procedures that are currently required to help safeguard children are now in place."
- "Maternal Reflective Method". St John's Catholic School for the Deaf. http://www.stjohns.org.uk/primary_department/maternal-reflection-method.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "Post-16 department". St John's Catholic School for the Deaf. http://www.stjohns.org.uk/post_16_department/. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "BBC Radio 4 Appeal". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jlwnz. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "St John's Fundraising and Appeals". http://stjohns.org.uk/fundraising-and-appeals-for-st-johns/. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- "Seven former deaf pupils win cash". Yorkshire Evening Post. 16 September 2008. http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Seven-former-deaf-pupils-win.4494260.jp. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- "Victims of paedophile priest to sue church". The Yorkshire Post. 7 August 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-09-09. https://archive.is/f0bS. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- "Inspection Report (14–15 October 2008)". Ofsted. 13 January 2009. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/oxedu_reports/display/(id)/104130. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "Inspection report (20–21 January 2009)". Ofsted. 11 February 2009. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/oxedu_reports/display/(id)/104922. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
Boston Spa : the story of St. John's Catholic School for Deaf Children, 1875-1975; Joselyn Taylor. Addlestone: British Deaf History Society Publications, 2007. vii, 132 p. ISBN 9781902427287