Transition Year: Yes or No?


March 10, 2021

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If you are a parent of a Junior Cert student, you and they may be 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 tips for parents about 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
  • crafts
  • ICT

Schools will challenge students to set their own goals and objectives for the year.

Will They Continue with Academic Subjects?

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Most schools will continue with core 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 Transition 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

Losing Focus Academically during TY

You might be worried that your teen 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.

The Expense of TY

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.


We have created this free Key Dates for the Leaving Cert download that you can print and stick on your fridge for reference.

Download your Key Dates Sheet in PDF format.

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Help With Your Decision

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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?

Other Useful Resources

You’ll find more useful resources about Transition Year programmes on the NCCA website and PDST website.

With thanks to Emer N, Secondary School Teacher.

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Published On: March 10th, 2021 / Categories: School / Last Updated: December 23rd, 2022 / Tags: , /

About the Author: Michelle

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

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