10:00am Thursday 22nd August 2013
By Chris Warne
AUGUST is always a nerve-wracking month for students anxiously awaiting exam results which could determine what their future holds for them, whether it be sixth form, university or the world of work.
For those who don’t get the grades they want or were expecting, it is easy to think that the end of the world is nigh but nowadays there are a whole host of opportunities out there for youngsters, from engineering apprenticeships to higher education access courses.
Julian Heseltine is living proof that there are viable alternatives for young people who might want to take a different route, with less revision and fewer or no exams altogether.
The 19-year-old, who lives in South Woodchester, enrolled on a Bridging the Gap course at Waldorf College in Stroud after deciding mainstream education and academia wasn’t for him.
Bridging the Gap, which is for 16 to 18 year olds and run by Waldorf in partnership with Cirencester College, is a one or two year full-time course for young people who want to try out new things and learn new skills whilst earning a diploma or a BTEC in the process.
Students work on ‘independent projects', often combining science, art and practical skills, which give them an opportunity to learn crafts like blacksmithing, ceramic work, mosaic making and stone carving.
For Julian the chance to try something totally different turned out to be a life-changing experience.
"I found my previous school quite restricting, you had to know what you wanted to do and then choose the subjects accordingly," he said.
"Trouble is I never knew what I wanted to do and I think this is the case for a lot of students when they leave school."
That all changed for Julian though in the course of just one lesson at the college.
"Half way through the year we were assigned to do an independent project whereby we work on something in our own time to present at the end of the year," Julian explained.
"During one of our lectures, a truly inspirational stained glass and mosaic artist called Johannes Steuck gave us a tutorial on how to make little stained glass hangings."I was truly driven by it and really wanted to practice and make more so I took it up as my independent project.
"As the months passed I frequently went to his workshop in Ebley and he taught me all I needed to know.
"I went from making 10 small hangings to this big piece which I presented at the end of the year and I am now very keen to start making them to sell."
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