The advent of comprehensive schools in Redcar in 1975 was accompanied by the establishment of a dedicated Sixth Form College, for 16-19 year olds, most of whom sought an academic education preparing them for higher education.
Thus the first students consisted largely of senior pupils from Sir William Turner’s Grammar School and Cleveland Grammar School for Girls.
Advanced-level courses dominated the curriculum, which gradually expanded to include ‘new’ subjects such as Economics, Government and Politics, Design Technology, English Language, Computing and Psychology, alongside more traditional choices. S.G. Barker was appointed first Principal and its initial staff, including Miss Lorna Clish, the Headmistress of Cleveland GS, came largely from the grammar schools.
The SWT Foundation, suitably modified to acknowledge the presence of female students, continued its supporting role in the new college.
The college was established in a former small secondary school on Redcar Lane, and suitable accommodation, particularly of specialist science laboratories was a persistent problem for the c.450 students and staff that had to work there.
The background of Michael J. Wardell, the Principal from 1977 to 1988, was in comprehensive education, important as the College inevitably received students from the area’s comprehensive schools.
Each year c.50% of college leavers progressed to higher education.
One significant curriculum development came in 1987 with the establishment of a course in ‘Pre-Vocational Education’, for students seeking an alternative to examination courses.
This widened the student intake as well as initiating further modest co-operation with other local colleges.
Alan G.B. Old, appointed Principal in 1988, faced the challenges and opportunities created by the 1988 Education Act, particularly the concept of ‘incorporation’, a form of independence for colleges, which came into effect in 1993.
The relatively small size of SWT 6FC presented problems in this new era and led directly to the full partnership with Cleveland Technical College in 1994.