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Should TY be retained - see what the students think

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 27/05/2014. Should TY be retained - see what the students thinkTags: Education And Politics Teachers Parenting Secondary School News

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., has welcomed the publication of a new report on Transition Year (TY) compiled by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU).  The ISSU undertook this quantitative and qualitative study “Transition year: exploring the student experience” at the request of the Minister. 

The study shows 89% of those surveyed took part in Transition Year in their school and the same percentage were happy that they did so.  The overall consensus of students and TY co-ordinators is that the year should be maintained, although there are suggestions on how to improve it. 

* 85% of students felt they learned new skills
* 85% of students agreed that their Transition Year Programme was well promoted in their school
* 83% of students agreed their TY Co-ordinator was good overall
* 82% of students enjoyed their experience
* 80% of students either agree or strongly agree that their TY year was well organised
* 77% felt that it was a worthwhile experience

Minister Quinn said, “This is a very valuable survey and will inform policy in this area.  I believe it is important that we hear the voice of students in relation to matters that directly affect them such as Transition Year.”

Transition Year is made up of four set layers: core subjects, subject tasters, Transition Year specific layers (which comprises of classes specifically designed by teachers to fit students’ needs and experiences such as entrepreneurship) and calendar layer such as work experience or An Gaisce. 
Students surveyed reported that the core subjects, such as English, Irish and Maths are taken very seriously; they believed that less emphasis could be placed on subjects as they already did them in Junior Cycle.

Subject tasters were deemed to be helpful as were the specific layer subjects where subjects of interest to students such as entrepreneurship can be undertaken. 
An Gaisce is perceived as a lot of hard work but the medal awarded at the end is seen as a recognition of that.  Some students believe that not enough time is given to work experience (2-4 weeks) and some difficulties are reported in organising it.

Incoming ISSU President, Craig McHugh said, “We were tasked by Minister Quinn to explore the perceptions of Transition Year on a national level. Students embraced the opportunity to share their thoughts on Transition Year. I believe this report provides an objective view about this worthwhile programme.”
“Students enjoyed the short courses and dynamic feel of real world learning, which echoes the concepts reinforced in the new Junior Cycle. Young people benefit from the space to mature, and the opportunity to learn and test real life skills. The Transition Year programme is a hallmark success of the Irish Education System, and I am delighted to see a report of this nature supported by the Department, and let it be the first step in real engagement with students as stakeholders in their own education”. 

Trips are the most popular element to TY, from day trips to foreign exchanges or holidays. Students claim they are fun and good from an academic and learning basis.  Many of the students surveyed request more group work and that they would like teachers to use different teaching methods and styles in the classes. 
Students also report that TY is an expensive year with the average contribution being €300 but ranging from €150 and €900.  The Department gives an extra grant of €95 per student to schools who have a TY programme. 

Teachers were also surveyed as part of this report.  Overall, they perceived the strengths of TY to be the sampling of subjects, changes in assessment to a more student centred approach, the acquisition of new skills and the space for young people to mature.  Teachers had a mixed opinion on work experience and also cited lack of funding for TY as a weakness of the programme. 

Recommendations contained in the report include maintaining the optional nature of TY, introduce information session for third year students, costs of TY to be made clear to students and including students in decision making on activities, trips and classes. 

The full TY report can be viewed here


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