In September 2017, St. Finian’s College began its first ever Transition Year programme. 46 young boys and girls embarked on a ‘bridging’ year between Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate to develop themselves in a range of different ways. The programme has been a fantastic success in its first year, with the students gaining maturity, learning new skills, getting involved with the community, discovering talents, and some even finding part time jobs!
The TY students have learned and developed key personal skills such as; public speaking, interviews, digital literacy, video making, group work, CPR, stage performance, fashion design, organisational skills, CV writing and many more. The old adage; ‘You get out what you put in’ has proven to be true in Transition Year, as students who have engaged well with the programme have thrived, and will enter into the Leaving Certificate Cycle this coming September with added maturity, motivation, self-awareness, personal skills, independence and direction.
What does it involve?
Transition Year 2020 will be slightly different from the previous year, as we always look to be improving our delivery of the programme, but the core idea is the same. The Covid 19 Pandemic has changed the landscape of trips/activities. Students are still taking a year away from the regular academic cycles to develop a number of key personal skills while trying new, unique experiences they may not have had access to had they gone straight in to the Leaving Certificate. Students will sample most Leaving Certificate subjects, while also entering competitions, starting mini businesses, going on various trips and days away ( Covid 19 compliant), completing three separate blocks of work experience ( where possible with Covid 19), staging a musical, raising awareness & money for local charities, organising a 5k run and so much more! Transition Year gives students a greater freedom of their personal time to develop themselves in terms of sport, music, academia and other personal interests.
The Department of Education & Skills defines the purpose of Transition Year as follows:
‘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.’
Components of Transition Year:
|All year – Core Subjects||Sample Modules||Sample Modules||Other Opportunities|
|English||Physics||Art||Young Social Innovators|
|Irish||Chemistry||Music||John Paul 2 Award|
|Maths||Biology||Golf||BT Young Scientist|
|Modern Language||Applied Maths||Road Safety||Junk Kouture|
|Religion||Geography||Spanish||School Digital Champion|
|Volunteering||History||Public Speaking||Quiz competitions|
|Musical||Equine Studies||Digital Skills||Work Experience|
|Student Enterprise (Making a business)||Environmental Studies||Technology||G.A.A Future Leaders|
|Computer Coding||P.E||Digital Media Production|
|Film Studies||Home Economics||Guest Speakers|
Our Transition Year Programme aims to:
St. Finian’s College Transition Year Applications & Admissions Policy
Please note: This document works as a supplement to, and is superseded by, the general St. Finian’s College Admissions policy
The St. Finian’s College Transition Year program was introduced in 2017. In the years since then the interest has grown quickly, with the number of classes rising from 2 to 3 in 2019. For the upcoming academic year (2020-2021), the number of classes will remain at 3, however, due to growing demand for TY, there will be on occasion years where the school must unfortunately curtail the number of students who can be entered into the program, meaning not all who apply may get in. This evaluation is based on the considerations of the Senior Management Team in conjunction with the Pastoral Care Team and the Program Coordinator, and is at all times ratified by the Board of Management. This decision is taken in terms of the best interest of the school and her students, both in terms of Learning & Teaching, and the physical resources available in the school. As the school continues to grow and evolve, the decision concerning the number of classes and number of students entered into the program will be continually evaluated.
The application process for Transition Year works as follows:
Queries regarding this or any other TY policy should be addressed in person or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transition Year - A Year Without A Schoolbag
When looking at all the various ways that we as a school could deliver this program, we realised the there was an opportunity to start from scratch. Having just completed their Junior Certificate exams, we were very aware that the students were coming from a pressurised academic structure. With that in mind, we wanted to set the Transition Year students apart and give them a unique learning opportunity. The introduction of Chromebooks allowed us to give students the unique learning experience we hoped for, while also improving their computer skills and allowing them a certain ownership of their learning environment.
A Chromebook is a fast, reliable laptop which runs Chrome OS. This means that you cannot download programs to the desktop. The device essentially serves as an internet machine, capable of browsing the web and running apps, but little else. This means that the students are able to do everything they need to in school, but cannot ‘slow the computer down’ by downloading memory-heavy files and programs. Well over halfway through their second year of intense, everyday usage, they are operating at the same high speed as when they were first turned on. The initial batch of Chromebooks were purchased by the school as an investment into the digital wellbeing of the students and the school, and repairs/increased number of chromebooks have since come from TY funds.
With the exception of their TY journals, students are not required to bring in any other materials. This saves a lot of money for parents, and it is great to see the children not burdened with the great weight of a regular schoolbag. Students are assigned a Chromebook each. These chromebooks are numbered, and their number and serial numbers are listed with us, attached to each student. Students have their own email address and password given by the coordinators, and students sign a declaration acknowledging that the chromebooks are the property of the school, and that every action taken on them is counted as official school work. Chromebooks are subject to random physical and digital inspections. To date there has been exceptionally good behaviour with these devices
Assessments & Feedback
Assessments & Feedback are crucial parts in the development of any student within the education system. This is especially true in the St. Finian’s TY program. Students are continuously reminded that although they do not have any state examinations during this year, this program is for their own personal and holistic development, allowing them to focus on both academic and extracurricular ventures which are not always available in other academic years. As such, all assessments and feedback given are crucially important to their development.
Every single element of the Transition Year program in St. Finian’s is assessed, from the Chemistry module to the participation in Volunteering classes. Students’ attitude, participation and academic efforts are all assessed by the relevant teachers, and included in some form of individual and group feedback.
Students and Parents receive two posted-home reports; one at the end of semester 1, at Christmas, the other at the end of semester 2, in May. These reports are modelled after the regular term reports that all other students receive. This helps keep the high standard of summative feedback consistent among students and staff. TY students also have a Parent Teacher Meeting towards the end of the first semester. Students receive regular feedback in class through their teachers, and outside class from their dedicated class tutors and coordinators. We as coordinators also seek feedback on the students as a group or as individuals from their work experience placements and the hosts of any of our excursions. Students are also encouraged to engage in self-reflection, and this forms a part of their work in the TY journal, wellbeing, and other areas of TY life.
In terms of general communication, TY communicates to staff, students and parents on a continuous basis. An online calendar is maintained and shared to staff and parents, allowing 24/7 access to the TY schedule. Coordinators are also available via email at all times.
Feedback was also crucial to us as coordinators in terms of building and improving the program. We were cognisant of the perception of some sort of exclusive ‘ownership’ of the program, and so worked hard to ensure that there are always open and encouraging lines of communication between staff, students and parents, to and from coordinators. Our initial program was developed based on feedback from staff, and changes where possible were made to the program in its second year are as a result of continued feedback sessions at the end of the previous academic year. This practice will be continued, in conjunction with the advice of management, as we go forward.
Feedback forms received from both students and parents of our first transition year programmes allowed us to identify our areas for improvement. This gave us the opportunity to present suggested amendments to timetabling and programming to management for their consideration going forward. As our transition year programme is still in its infancy, we shall continue to communicate with students, parents, teachers and management in order to continuously improve the Transition Year programme we offer here at St Finians College. Included in this folder is a list of suggestions and amendments, shared with management, which we compiled from this feedback.