Priestley College became a sixth form in 1979 and has grown in numbers and reputation ever since.
By 2009 the College had doubled in size thanks to improvements in performance, the introduction of new curriculum and significant investment in the campus.
Principal James Gresty said: “We have made great strides in recent years, but we are not a college that stands still. We are constantly looking for ways to improve in order to make the biggest difference to the most number of young people.”
There are now around 2,000 learners at Priestley with the latest investment a £1.5million technology centre that boasts more than 200 computers. The Crescent building has also been extended to provide extra café and study space whilst our Performing Arts facilities have been modernised.
More than £15million has been invested in the campus since 1999 on projects such as the new the Learning Resource Centre and an all-weather sports pitch.
Priestley’s growth in numbers has also gone hand in hand with increasing the range and scope of provision as well as significant improvements in quality.
By responding to student demand and national curriculum development, we have been able to broaden the choice by offering new curriculum lines.
Students now have the choice of 70 A-Level and BTEC courses with hundreds of possible combinations available.
Priestley was praised in its most recent Ofsted report for its high pass rates and how it prepares young people in Warrington for their next steps in life. Inspectors said pass rates were consistently high and above the national average.
It said: “Students who are targeted to ‘aspire high’ nearly all got a place at prestigious universities including the University of Cambridge. A high proportion go to Russell Group universities.”
The report also found that ‘teachers ensure students develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their qualifications and in their working life’.
Genius at work
Joseph Priestley was a man who made a difference to the world of science.
He is best remembered for his discovery of the gas that would later be named ‘oxygen’ but wrote famous papers on electricity and invented soda water.
In the 1760s he took up a post at the Warrington Academy where he became a tutor of modern languages and rhetoric and later became a fellowship of the Royal Society.
Fitting, therefore, that nearly 210 years after his death a college bearing his name has been awarded STEM assured status recognising the quality of teaching of science and maths subjects.
Speaking at the opening of our technology centre in 2014 Dr David Whan, a trustee of the New Engineering Foundation, also praised our record in these subjects.
“Joseph Priestley was a remarkable man and this is a college that is fit to bear his name,” he said.