Transition Year

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Not everyone decides to go straight onto the Leaving Cert following the completion of the Junior Cert. Some students feel like they need a gap between going from one set of exams straight onto another, while others feel like an extra year between Junior Cert and Leaving Cert is ideal for gaining crucial work experience and learning new skills to help them in their personal and professional lives.

Transition year gives students the opportunity to do this. Though it is not a compulsory year, used well it can be of great benefit to students. However, it is an option that should be thought about carefully. You can help your child make an informed decision about whether to take a transition year or not by discussing their reasons for doing it and what they hope to achieve from doing it. Encourage your child to seek advice from teachers and past transition year students.

There are pros and cons of doing a transition year and some students are more suited to doing it than others. For example, a child who responds better to practical, hands-on education rather than classroom-based teaching methods may well get a lot more out of doing a transition year than going straight onto the Leaving Cert. As a parent you should talk through the options with your child and try to understand their reasons for opting for or against it. Below you will find information about the purpose of transition year programmes.

What is Transition Year?

The transition year is designed to help students develop not just on an educational level but also on a personal, social and vocational level. The transition year option has been available since 1992 and was introduced as a means to provide students with an education for maturity – in other words, it was designed to help students develop as individuals and acquire the problem-solving, critical thinking and life skills necessary for adult life. It aims to help develop self-reliant and independent learning skills that can be applied to both study and work. Transition year encourages students to develop personally and socially and grow in independence with more awareness of the world outside of school. Team projects working within the community or carrying out environmental field work, for example, help students to grow in awareness of these issues.

Transition year focuses on the practical teaching of subjects to provide students with  transferable and usable skills such as learning a language from the angle of ‘getting by’ in a foreign country or learning about business by actually setting up and running a small business, a project that is frequently undertaken in many transition year programmes. Transition year programmes also focus on personal development and how students relate to and communicate with others. The emphasis is on building healthy relationships and an appreciation of others.

A big part of the transition year centres around preparing students for adult life and their careers – from preparing students to write a good CV to developing their skills in teamwork, communication, planning, organisation and time management. Transition Year usually gives students ample opportunity to gain useful and worthwhile work placements too in areas as varied as hospitals, schools, offices, prisons, government offices, radio stations, carpentry, sales, and hairdressing.

Many transition year programmes also implement a scheme of community placements which involves helping the disabled, elderly, and disadvantaged in the community. This can be a rewarding, challenging and very insightful experience which enables students to use their people skills to the full. Many schools also operate a system of having visitors come in to talk to transition year students. These people are usually from a diverse range of career backgrounds and they offer advice to students about getting into their career industry. Not only does the transition year help students learn new skills and develop an independent approach to learning, it also provides them with an extra year to think carefully about which leaving cert subjects they want to pursue.


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