Transition Year – Why it Can be Brilliant for Students


September 6, 2019

Learning vs schooling transition year

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When I went to school, Transition Year or TY as it is known, was not available. So when my daughter announced she was definitely doing TY, I have to admit I was sceptical. We went along to the TY talk and I came away wanting to sign up for it myself! So if your child is considering TY, here are some of the reasons why transition year can be brilliant for students.

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Before I begin I must say that TY is not for everyone. If your child is mature and has a clear idea of what they want to do when they leave school, they may be better to go straight onto 5th year. Or if your child can’t wait to leave school and get working, TY is adding an extra year they may not want to be in school.

The merits or lack thereof for students to have a gap year away from study and exams divides both parents and students. It is something you need to talk about and inform yourself on. Get the facts as they say, be sure the TY program is well organised and not seen as a ‘doss’ year by students (and teachers). And if the program is well run in your school this year, check if it will be the same co-ordinator for the year your child is due to be in TY.

TY became an option for students in some schools in 1992. It is designed to give teens time to learn new skills, mature and discover what it is they want to do in life in a well-organised and informative way.

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Transition Year Show 2019, Punchestown, Dublin

Transition Year Show 2019

Transition Year Show 2019 takes place at Punchestown Event Centre on September 24th & 25th. TY, LCA,  LCVP students and their teachers are invited to attend informative talks, demonstrations & displays and meet some of Ireland’s top employers, companies, universities and colleges. It is the perfect way to begin TY for students and teachers alike. Some of the tips in this article are directly taken from their research.

Why Transition Year Can Be Brilliant For Students

Transition Year Projects

Transition year offers exciting opportunities for students to experience a more practical and different kind of learning. Here are some reasons why TY is a good idea:

Learn New Skills

Perhaps the greatest benefit of transition year is the opportunity for your child to learn new skills, beyond the books, and receive on-the-job training in jobs that they may one day become their career.

Most TY programs have work experience built in. Students should be encouraged to create a CV and apply for jobs that they feel they may like to do in the future. If I can urge you to do one service for your child, please don’t get the job for them.

Encourage them to look for work experience that interests them and not to go for the easy option or for a job that they hope will turn into part-time paid employment, unless it is truly something they want to do later in life.

Of course students will be nervous going for an interview and entering into a workplace, but by pushing themselves forward they will gain invaluable insights into their own personality and interests.

Their dream job may turn out to be nothing like they expected and they have the opportunity to explore other choices. Or they may love it and be motivated to do everything they can to ensure it is where they end up after school.

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Expand Their Circle of Friends

Many schools mix up the classes for transition year so students are taken out of their class groups, and comfort zone, and have to make new friends. While this fills them with dread initially, it is a reality check for the real world.

They have the opportunity to get to know others through working with them on projects, taking trips with them and getting to know them in a non-academic way.

They will still see their friends and get to spend time with them but they will have to make an effort to make new friends too, better preparing them for life in the workplace or at 3rd level where they will be the ‘new person’ in many situations.

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Mature & Develop As A Person

During transition year, your child will mature and develop as a person. Although it is a year away from the treadmill of exams, study, hours of homework, each student will only get out of transition year what they put in. They need to throw themselves into the projects and experiences offered and use the year to gain new skills.

Through researching, gathering and collating information for projects and presenting them to their peers, they will learn the skills needed for going into a workplace or to do college projects.

Without the stress of exams and constant study, teenagers will have the opportunity to enjoy more sports, arts, culture. You should encourage them to do some charity or community work, this all helps them to grow as a person and looks great on a future cv.

If they are involved in a particular sport, encourage them to look at undertaking some training to enable them to help with coaching younger children. If the school offers a school production encourage them to audition and take part, either in the limelight or back stage. These skills are invaluable for building confidence.

The extra year afforded to them by doing transition year is an opportunity to explore the subjects on offer for leaving cert and make a more informed choice of what subjects will best suit them. By picking subjects that interest them, they will be more likely to excel in them. It also means they will be a year older going to college or into the workplace.

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Travel & Trips

Most transition year programs feature travel and trips away. This is great for growing your child’s independence and broadening their horizons. Whether the trips are abroad or day trips to different places, they get to enjoy experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have had and to see places they may not have been before.

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The Cons Of Transition Year

study and homework student transition year cons

Difficult To Get Back Into Study

One of the main cons for students doing transition year seems to be the shift in gear back up to study and homework after a year working in a very different way.

It is important for your child to keep some sort of study regime going during transition year. Whether this be keeping up with their core subjects, or tying in some of their work experience or trips with the language they are studying or taking time to read more books on the subjects that interest them you need to ensure they stay motivated.

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TY Program Not Well Organised

If everyone says the TY program is not well organised in your school pay heed. All schools are not equal and when the program is poor, the students become bored and de-motivated and it is very difficult to keep them going for the year.


Transition year can be a financial burden for many. It really does depend on the types of trips organised by your school. If you think you may struggle, but your child really wants to do transition year, talk the school before you have to make the choice and see how they can help.

Students Get A Taste Of Freedom

For many parents the worry is that their child will get a taste of freedom be that from the burdens or study and exams or financially as they go for jobs that offer them part-time work throughout the year. And will find it very difficult to ramp back up to the levels needed to do well for their leaving certificate.

Every child in unique so you need to sit down together and have a frank discussion with your child on what it is they are hoping to gain from doing transition year, beyond the fact that ‘all my friends are doing it’.

If your child starts transition year and realises it is not for them, do talk to the school as early as possible to see if they can move onto 5th year.

All in all for me and my child the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to transition year. I know it may not be the same for all students, so do the research before signing up for it.

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Over to you now. Please add your thoughts and experiences on transition year in the comments box below. 

Transition Year Why it can be brilliant for students

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Published On: September 6th, 2019 / Categories: School / Last Updated: April 5th, 2021 / Tags: /

About the Author: Michelle

Michelle is a Mum to 2 girls and co-founded Mykidstime.

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