An evaluation of the Transition Year Programme was published by the ESRI in 2005. A key finding from this study was that school principals and teachers see the Transition Year programme as broadly successful, especially in developing personal and social skills among students.
The evaluation showed that transition year students were 1.3 more likely to enter higher education, and achieved higher grade point averages in the Leaving Certificate that non transition year programme students. The advantage of this may be related to longer exposure to the various subjects, more maturity, better selection of senior cycle subjects, and experience of self directed learning leading to improved study skills.
The Transition Year Programme is designed to enable students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level, and provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative, self directed and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. Increased maturity, social awareness, social competence, and enhanced career awareness are important outcomes from the programme.
There are no formal examinations, but schools provide for assessment through a range of test, journal, project and portfolio approaches. Most schools offer a mix of academic subjects, a key focus on personal and social development, ICT and work related learning, taster programmes and civic, cultural, sport and leisure options. Mini-company, where students set up and operate a real business, enterprise and work experience are popular options in schools.
School musicals, fashion shows, participation in competitions such as the Young Scientist and the Young Enterprise and the Young Social Innovators Programme provide important opportunities for students to hone their research, planning, teamwork, evaluation, and critical reflection skills.
Some 28,500 students in 550 post-primary schools follow this option (approx 50% of cohort).