TY Students Are Better Prepared for the Leaving Cert

More than 50,000 students received their Leaving Cert results today. Roughly 40,000 of those students participated in transition year. Research shows that transition year students for various reasons are better prepared for the Leaving Cert. One might say that because there’s little focus on studying and academic subjects in TY that students will find it difficult to return to previous learning habits from 3rd year when they start 5th year. This is one of few misconceptions about transition year and here’s why:

1. Classroom Interaction

In transition year, teachers often volunteer to organise a variety of activities and classes for students. In fact, teachers’ participation in the year is just as important as students’ participation. However, the role of a teacher in TY is quite different from one in academic years. Teachers tend to share more of their interests to students and because there’s no pressure to get students ready for an important exam, they can be more…well…fun. Because of this students find it easier to talk to and get to know a teacher leading to a better classroom environment. If a student who was in TY is finding a LC subject difficult they might find it easier to ask a teacher, who they have now known for a year, for help. Research on transition year performed by Aidan Clerkin states:

“It is not uncommon to hear teachers say that they can tell which students did TY and who did not, based on their classroom behaviour and their interactions with teachers. Student–teacher relationships are often reported to improve as a result of TY, with students appreciating the chance to engage with their teachers on a less formal basis (e.g. discovering that their teachers have their own interests and personalities).”

2. Independent Learning

Transition year endeavours to provide students with independent learning skills through competitions and other extracurricular activities. For example in competitions like AIB Build a Bank students get a great insight into banking and financial institutions, BT Young Scientist rewards students for their research in STEM and the Student Enterprise Awards offers students a plethora of skills extending beyond setting up a business. However, there is no “How to set up a bank” class or “How to win BTYSTE” module. Students have to learn on their own initiative. This enthusiasm to independently learn follows them when preparing for the Leaving Cert.

“Teachers often describe TY participants as being more mature and focused in subsequent years, better able for the Leaving Certificate examinations and more able to manage themselves and their own learning.”

3. More Defined Goals

Deciding on a career path can be difficult. Luckily TY students have multiple opportunities available to help them in choosing a career. Talks from older and third-level students, subject focused competitions and activities, sampling subjects, and perhaps most important, work experience, all aid students with what they want to do in the future. These opportunities are seldom presented to students in other years making it rather difficult for students to select Leaving Cert subjects yet alone a career. But being exposed to not only what Leaving Cert subjects will entail but real world applications of them is incredibly beneficial to TY students. Obviously not every TY student will have an exact idea of what they will do by the end of the year but they should know what they don’t want to do, making it easier to select from a shorter list of subjects and options. Because TY students will have more defined goals during Leaving Cert years they will be more motivated to work towards those goals whether it’s through focusing on the Leaving Cert exams or going through another process.

“TY is also claimed to help students make a more informed choice of subjects for the senior examination cycle. This may be related to one or more features of the programme, including having the opportunity for self‐reflection in a low‐stakes environment, engaging in active sampling of varied subjects during the year, or by gaining insight into one’s vocational aspirations through work placements and other community‐based or out‐of‐school activities.”


Filling in the gaps: A theoretical grounding for an education programme for adolescent socioemotional and vocational development in Ireland

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