Transition Year (TY) offers students a broad educational experience with a view to the attainment of increased maturity, before proceeding to further study and/or vocational preparation. It provides a bridge to help pupils make the transition from a highly-structured environment to one where they will take greater responsibility for their own learning and decision making. TY students participate in learning strategies which are active and experiential and which help them to develop a range of transferable critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Transition Year also provides an opportunity for students to reflect on and develop an awareness of the value of education and training in preparing them for the ever-changing demands of the adult world of work and relationships.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) provide guidance on TY via a handbook that is available on their Website: ncca.ie/en/senior-cycle/programmes-and-key-skills/transition-year/ However, the structure of TY programmes, including the balance between classroom and non-classroom based units, is a matter for individual schools.
As the Deputy will be aware, between 2016 and 2020 the NCCA undertook an extensive review of senior cycle programmes and vocational pathways. The NCCA’s Advisory Report on the Senior Cycle has been submitted to my Department for consideration.
The Advisory Report, which includes consideration of the TY Programme, maps out, in broad terms, an ambitious programme of work, which would enable the development and construction of the components that would make up a Framework for Senior Cycle and will involve further ongoing stakeholder engagement and consultation. Research published during the review by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) revealed that students, teachers and parents all viewed the TY programme as a positive feature of senior cycle, with the year perceived as enhancing maturity and personal development among students, providing them with a variety of learning experiences and allowing them to reflect on their pathways for the future.
I am currently focusing on what the implementation of the NCCA Report would involve and what we can do to best ensure the further evolution of Senior Cycle. My officials and I have been considering the Report carefully, with a view to delivering a Senior Cycle programme that meets the needs of the students of today and the future, and the Report will be published once those considerations are complete.