High-flying Wigan college celebrates 50 years

A Wigan college is celebrating its gold anniversary.

What began as a grammar school, St John Rigby in Orrell, became the first Catholic sixth form college in the country in 1972.

It bares the name of Blessed John Rigby who was canonised by Pope Paul IV just two years earlier.

Since then, it has grown and developed into an outstanding, inclusive learning community serving students from across Wigan, Merseyside and West Lancashire.

A picture of the college from a 1980 prospectus

The educational institution has a a proud heritage, strong foundations and an innovative and progressive future.

In its 50th year bosses are building a new dedicated technical education centre to meet the emerging skills needs of some of the students and develop a hub for the new T-Level qualifications.

They are also working closely with employers, where these qualifications will complement the many outstanding courses already on offer.

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St John Rigby College students, principal Peter McGhee and staff celebrate the 50th anniversary.

A spokesperson for the college said: “We are a welcoming, caring and supportive community for students of all faiths, enabling young people to flourish so that they may pursue lives that will serve to create a better world.

"Our mission is to value each individual, celebrate learning and raise ambitions so that our students grow into compassionate and responsible adults.

“While fashions may have changed, our catholic values remain central to our mission.

"We live out these values and have a particular focus on the faith, commitment, courage and integrity of St John Rigby and his belief in freedom being based on being true to one’s beliefs.”

Their most recent Ofsted report stated that: “The Catholic mission and values permeate the college and are highly effective in developing students’ positive attitudes to learning.

“Students’ academic and recreational achievements are celebrated regularly, and this creates a sense of pride among them and in the college community.”

The college would like to thank those who have been a part of their fifty year history.

Former students, staff and friends of the college are invited to join current staff and students in a celebratory 50th Anniversary Mass at 11am on Sunday July 3. Details for how to reserve places in the congregation can be found by visiting www.sjr.ac.uk.