In 1878 the Intermediate Education Act was passed to fill the gap in education provision between elementary schools and universities. The Act permitted the distribution of public funds to run intermediate schools, on a payment-by-results basis and to award prizes to pupils. These schools opened up career opportunities in the civil service, the armed forces and provided access to the universities and the professions.

In Newtownards, a group of landowners, clergymen, businessmen and professionals decided to take advantage of this provision and established the Newtownards Intermediate School the same year. The school existed until 1895. The school was revived in 1919, teaching 34 pupils from Strean Hall in Mary Street.

In 1923 the school was renamed Newtownards Academy. In 1924, when the pupil population had grown to 89, it merged with the The Ladies' School which had operated since 1895, first in Victoria Avenue and later in Conway Square. When it merged, the new school had 129 pupils.

In 1927 the Board of Governors purchased Regent House, an imposing Regency mansion in Regent Street. It also passed ultimate control of the school to the education committee of Down County Council. The following year the school moved into Regent House, changing its name to Regent House School. Between 1924 and 1962, the school grew in size from 155 to 842 pupils.

In 1962 the school moved to its current site on Circular Road. 

Following an announcement in 2000, a major programme of rebuilding and refurbishment has recently been completed, providing a wealth of new resources, including a new block of 21 classrooms, a 75 seat lecture/drama theatre and a music block extension.