Independent councillor Richard Finn told a VEC meeting last Thursday that Transition Year ‘costs parents a fortune’ and should be scrapped.
Although the Transition Year programme is supported by the majority of educationalists, Cllr Finn said as far as he was concerned it was a ‘doss year’ that places a financial strain on parents.
“Transition Year costs is costing parents a fortune to keep their children in class and whatever benefit they get from the course, it is a lot less in terms of cost from a parent’s point of view. I would support the Minister 100 per cent if he decided to abolish Transition Year. It is a luxury that we can not afford in this country, and as far as I am concerned I regard it as a doss year,” he said.” he said.
Cllr Finn made his comments in light of reports in August that suggested Transition Year may be scrapped if the Minister of Education raises the school going age from four to five.
His comments at the meeting led to a robust exchange of views between the councillor and committee members who support the TY programme.
The CEO of Mayo VEC Dr Katie Sweeney was one of those who spoke in favour of securing the future of the TY programme in schools around Mayo which she said is of academic benefit to students.
“I am a big supporter of the TY programme and I base that judgement on evidence. We had a school who introduced TY for the first time two years ago and this year was their first Leaving Cert class since then. The academic achievement was far higher as a result of going through Transition Year, particularly for boys,” she said.
Sinn Féin councillor Therese Ruane told the meeting that from her experience as a secondary school teacher she could see the benefit the programme had for teenagers.
“I was a TY co-ordinator and I could see the benefit it had for teenagers. Education is so narrow and points-orientated … [TY] is one year where a more holistic education is developed. It is in third level where you can see the benefits. TY is unique to Ireland and is the envy of Europe,” she said.
Gerry King, Deputy Principal of Davitt College explained that the benefits for students were enormous particularly in terms of personal development. He said that not everyone is mature enough at 15 years to get into the Leaving Cert cycle and the benefits outweighed the disadvantage.
Committee member Pat Kilbane said that while TY was beneficial in developing the maturity of pupils before the go onto third level education, it was not ‘universally accepted by parents’.
He said TY’s success depended on enthusiasm for the programme in the particular school, and the post of TY Coordnator was a very important one.
What is Transition Year?
Transition Year is an optional one-year school programme that can be taken the year after the Junior Certificate in Ireland. It is intended to make the senior cycle a three-year programme. The mission statement of the Transition Year is: ‘To promote the personal, social, educational and vocational development of pupils and to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society.’