A POPULAR course providing alternative education for young people has been saved thanks to support from Cirencester College.

Stroud’s Waldorf College feared it would have to axe its Bridging the Gap course for 16 to 18-year-olds when Stroud College was forced to withdraw its support after an over-subscription of students meant it could no longer spare the funding.

But now Cirencester College has agreed to offer its funding and resources to partner the full-time, BTEC and OCN-accredited course for a year.

First launched in 2010, Bridging the Gap is specifically tailored for young people who failed to realise their potential in mainstream education as it allows students to focus their skills on a topic of their choice.

Studies begin tomorrow, Monday, September 10, with traditional blacksmithing and tree felling at Hawkwood College in Stroud but places are still available for prospective students to sample the course for a few weeks before committing themselves long-term.

A full programme of activities is planned for the year ahead, from wood working and land management, to drama, creative writing, music and leadership skills.

Kim Clifford, principle at Cirencester College said: "When I heard the course might have to stop I just thought it would be an appalling waste because those youngsters deserve a second chance.

"Some of the people on the course are former students of ours, so we are hoping, as partners, that if they do decide remaining in education is for them they may return to us.

"They do some great work at Waldorf College and to lose that in Stroud would have been really sad, so I hope it works out for the both of us."

Caroline Kelly, project co-ordinator at Waldorf College, added: "I felt huge relief and excitement that we could get started again.

"It really is an open course for anyone to try out, so if there are young people who are just hanging around at home they may as well come down and see if it is for them because they nothing to lose and possibly a huge amount to gain."

Anyone interested in joining the Bridging the Gap course should contact Waldorf College on 01453 840009 or email info@waldorfcollege.org.uk