TY — a worthwhile experience that allows pupils time, freedom and space

Fourth Year in secondary school can be a topic of debate in some households. A school year between the end of Junior Cycle and Fifth Year in which attendence levels are low, out-of-class activaties are a regular occurence, study goes completely out the window and homework is practically nonexistent, may be seen to some as superfluous at best and a waste of time at worst.

There are disadvantages that arise from Transition Year. Many young people find it challenging to slip back into a heathly academic routine once the penultimate year of school rolls around. Others may simply find it boring and lacking in intellectual stimulation. The scarcity of structure in the school day can make it difficult to readjust.

A lot of students may feel ready to advance to the next step of their education, and do not feel the need for an extra year of secondary school in which very little schoolwork will actually be done.

Transition Year's reputation as being a "doss year" may be warranted. But that does not mean there is no value to be had from it.

Introduced in September 1994, TY was established with the aim of helping young people to improve self-confidence, enhance their ability to communicate and socialise and to develop work-related skills, all without the added pressure of exams.

Transition Year students across the country also get the chance to participate in events and intitatives such as the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, Junk Couture, Young Social Innovators Project and the Gaisce President's Award. These experiences can build creativity, encourage community involvement and spark interest in topics such sustainabilty development and social justice.

Work placement is another hugely important aspect of TY. Allowing students to undergo putting the skills they have learned in school into practice in a real-life work environment, affords them an experience that the vast majority will find beneifical.

From my perspective, as a student coming to the end of TY, I found this year to be highly gratifying. Between rehearsing for our school musical, going on trips and organising work placement, there was never a dull moment.

To quote John Lennon: "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted". I find that this statement to ring especially true for this time in our lives. Transition Year has its problems, students falling behind on work being the most critical one of these.

It is my opinion a greater emphasis should be placed on keeping up at least a semi-regular standard of work over the year in order to prepare pupils for the Leaving Cert.

However, it is also my opinion that allowing young people the time, space and freedom to enjoy themselves before progressing to the next stage of their lives, should not be seen as a disadvantage - but rather as a worthwhile experience.

Cate Faherty is a TY student in St Paul's Oughterard, who is doing her work experience in the Galway Advertiser.


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