In 1953, a fire erupted at what was at the time, Thornes House, a Grammar School which contained campuses within Thornes Park. This fire was suspected to have been caused by a cigarette within the costume area controlled by the Wakefield Amateur Theatre Guild for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The newer presently used buildings were constructed in 1956. In 1972, Thornes House renamed to Thornes House High School.
In 1992, it was proposed to merge Thornes House High School, which had by this point lost its sixth form status, with what was at the time, Cathedral Middle School (initially founded in 1987). This was done in order to form a Church controlled High School on the site of the former, Upon closure of Thornes House High School, the remaining campuses within Thornes Park were handed over to Wakefield College as their Sports and Fitness educational centre, with a Swimming Pool and other athletic facilities provided on-site.
On 31 August 1993, Cathedral Middle School became Cathedral High School, and remained under this name until 2007, when the school rebranded under the leadership of headmaster Paul West, as Cathedral School of the Performing Arts. In 2012, they were awarded Academy status for their Performing Arts achievements within high-school ages. It was at this time, which CAPA opened to students aged 16–18 and became renowned across the UK as one of the leading schools for Performing Arts. Once again, on 1 January 2012, the school was renamed as Cathedral Academy under the leadership of then Principal, Tay Warren.
The school is set out across two floors, and has facilities such as a gymnasium and stage, which is used for the school's assemblies, CAPA performances and rehearsals and other major functions. The school also offers special technology rooms, with specialist woodworking and metalworking machines such as sandbelts, lathes, benchsaws, jig-saws and CAD-CAM machines, in addition to computer suites, including several banks of laptop computers to be used as required. The school also contains smart boards and projectors in every classroom for visual learning styles, specialist facilities for educating in Science, Resistant Materials with the aforementioned machinery, textiles, at least six different computer suites, five of which are dedicated for ICT and business classes, cooking, and another for technology usage such as CAD-CAM, as well as facilities and staffing for disruptive and violent children. In addition, the school has a large outdoor area used for both physical education and break times, consisting of two full sized tennis courts housed within cages on tarmac, the equivalent of three football fields of empty grassland in addition to a large tarmac play-area surrounding the rear of the school. Within the CAPA buildings, the school contains a performance and conference centre, studio theatre, two dance studios, two drama studios, two rehearsal rooms, a singing studio, a music room, several practice rooms, a creative media suite, production design centre and also a costume workshop.
Cathedral Academy, as both a High School and a Performing Arts Academy, contains several different curriculum pathways designed to suit the needs of every single student. Students aged 11–13 are required to learn English, Maths, Science, PE, French, History, Geography, Art, ICT, Music and Drama, in addition to lessons provided by one of three pathways, including Technology (Cathedral pathway), Dance, and Performance Workshop (CAPA Juniors Pathway). Students aged 13+ are required to study for GCSEs in Maths, English (x2), Science (x2 or x3 depending on academic status), Religious Studies in addition to either History/Geography (Humanities), or French (Modern Foreign Languages). Students can also choose two to three optional subjects to study at GCSEs, including options from Dance, Drama, Music, ICT, Finance/Business, Art, Food, Textiles, Sociology, PE or ECDL.