The college was established in 1976 as the Rockingham College. In 1979 it opened a construction block, used for construction, motor vehicle, and engineering courses. In 1996 it was renamed Dearne Valley College. This coincided with a new £7.5 million pound development on the site of the old Manvers Colliery. In 1999 a sports centre and health club were added, with a synthetic football pitch; these facilities can be used by both students and members of the local community. In 2006 the college celebrated its 10th anniversary of the new buildings.
The college specialises in vocational qualifications (NVQs), and does not currently offer full time A-level courses. In the 11 years that the college has been open they have added several HE programs and vocational programs for under 16's.
In 2002 the college was awarded CoVE (Centre of Vocational Excellence) a special status for Leisure Service Industries, and has held TTENTO (Travel Tourism and Events National Training Organisation) Centre of Excellence status since 1999.