A COUNTRY house in Dorset will open as a specialist college for young people with special needs following a £2.5million refurbishment.

Boveridge House, in Cranborne, will become Aurora Boveridge College and offer 16-to-25-year-olds the opportunity to learn and develop skills to prepare them for the world of work.

The first intake of 14 young people will start when the college opens in September.

Youngsters at the college will have the opportunity to learn a wide range of skills which will help them to find meaningful employment on graduation.

Principal Kim Welsh said the new college would be “life-changing” for the students.

“We are thrilled to be opening Aurora Boveridge College. Students will get real hands-on experience in many areas of work so they can identify the things that truly connect with their individual passions,” she said.

“So many youngsters with Asperger’s, autism and other related conditions are unable to find work once they leave education.

“We want to change that and empower our students to follow their passions so they can achieve meaningful employment once they leave us.”

During their time at college, students will put their skills to use in real-life situations and plan to offer services to the local community.

In time, they will transform the 16 acre gardens into a working ‘mini farm’ and kitchen garden, which will be run as a business.

Students will create and run a digital studio as part of their IT course, which will print marketing and promotional materials for local businesses.

They will operate a catering and events business (planned to include weddings and private events) as part of their hospitality and catering course.

The students will also restore the gardens and offer guided tours. The gardens were famously designed by influential British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. Using her original drawings the students will be part of an ongoing project to recreate her vision.

Alongside their vocational training, students will be able to work towards exams.

They will have access to small class sizes, therapeutic support and specialist teaching.

The renovation has included the creation of 17 bedrooms in the main house as well as a cinema room, a gym, kitchen and lounge areas. There will be an education centre in a converted stable block next to the main house, which will include therapy rooms, specialist sensory rooms, and food tech and science labs.

The college will provide places for 60 students on a residential and day placement basis.

The college is currently recruiting staff. Anyone interested in joining the team should contact recruitment@the-aurora-group.com.