Transition Year : Yes or No ?

Are you the parent of a Junior Cert student, wondering whether they should go straight through to Senior Cycle or do Transition Year? Many are of the opinion that Transition Year is a “doss year”, and not beneficial, and although there are some pitfalls to the programme there are also many advantages. Here are some Guidelines to Transition Year in Secondary Schools.

What is Transition Year?

Transition Year is of benefit to students on many levels. The aim of a Transition Year programme is to promote the holistic development of the student. A well designed Transition Year course will teach students many valuable life skills which they won’t learn through the normal examination programmes.

A Transition Year programme might include modules like community involvement, work experience, charity work, personal development, politics, cookery and crafts and ICT.  Schools will challenge students to set their own goals and objectives for the year.

Will they Continue with Academic Subjects?

Most schools will continue with many of the academic subjects however, in general, assessment of these subjects might take a different form to the traditional written examinations.

Portfolios, oral exams, presentations and continuous assessment are often more practical and more effective forms of assessment. Students will be given more responsibility for their own learning and be encouraged to reach their own potential.

What can they Gain from the Year?

Students who attend school regularly and participate in the full range of modules and activities can gain a lot from the Programme.

Generally, on completion of Transition Year, students will have developed socially, academically and emotionally. As the students have matured greatly they are more able to handle the challenges which arise during the Leaving Cert Cycle, both academically and socially.

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Perceived Disadvantages to doing Transition Year

  • Parents may be worried that a student will lose focus and switch off academically during this year. It can take students a number of weeks to settle in after this break from study, however, this is generally short lived and many of the skills, knowledge and opinions which the student learnt will be invaluable during Senior Cycle.
  • Parents and students often chose not to do Transition Year because of the expense. The trips, activities, modules and competitions are often very costly. In recent years, schools are more aware of these cost issues, and have tried to limit the costs. Some schools will set out clearly at the beginning of the year all of the costs involved and when each payment will be expected, thus parents can plan and students can try to save for each event.

Help with your Descision

Generally schools invite parents to an information meeting before Easter of Junior Cert year. As each schools’ programme is individual and distinct, here are some questions to ask the Transition Year Coordinator or Principal:

  • What are the entry requirements for Transition Year?  Some schools limit the number of students who can partake in the year and thus ask students to apply for a place.
  • What modules are taught throughout the year and how are they assessed ? Is there a final assessment, a parent teacher meeting or regular communication with parents about the progress of the students?
  • What is the total cost of the year? Is there a budget plan laid out which is payable in instalments throughout the year and will costs be kept to a minimum?
  • What certificates or programmes will the students have completed by the end of the year?
  • Is there a system in place to monitor and screen absenteeism? Are parents advised of days and classes missed?

Related : Some useful resources here, ncca and for Transition Year students see Transition Year Help.

Marine Dimensions, Bray offer the opportunity of work experience for students, if you have completed their course.

With thanks to Emer N, Secondary School Teacher.

Do you have any tips for parents of teens who are considering Transition Year?  Share them with us in the comments below.

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.