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Written Answers - Transition Year Programme

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 214.  Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will provide in tabular form the number of students who are partaking in transition year in 2012; the number of students per year who have partaken in transition year since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16663/12]

 215.  Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will provide in tabular form the number of students as a percentage of the cohort of eligible students [785]who are partaking in transition year in 2012; the percentage who have partaken in transition years since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16664/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 and 215 together.

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. I have asked my officials to compile the information for the past five years and to forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

 216.  Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if his attention has been drawn to any Irish or international research that has proven education or social benefits resulting from participation in transition year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16665/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn An evaluation of the Transition Year Programme was published by the ESRI in 2005. A key finding from this study was that school principals and teachers see the Transition Year programme as broadly successful, especially in developing personal and social skills among students.

The evaluation showed that transition year students were 1.3 more likely to enter higher education, and achieved higher grade point averages in the Leaving Certificate that non transition year programme students. The advantage of this may be related to longer exposure to the various subjects, more maturity, better selection of senior cycle subjects, and experience of self directed learning leading to improved study skills.

The Transition Year Programme is designed to enable students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level, and provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative, self directed and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. Increased maturity, social awareness, social competence, and enhanced career awareness are important outcomes from the programme.

There are no formal examinations, but schools provide for assessment through a range of test, journal, project and portfolio approaches. Most schools offer a mix of academic subjects, a key focus on personal and social development, ICT and work related learning, taster programmes and civic, cultural, sport and leisure options. Mini-company, where students set up and operate a real business, enterprise and work experience are popular options in schools.

School musicals, fashion shows, participation in competitions such as the Young Scientist and the Young Enterprise and the Young Social Innovators Programme provide important opportunities for students to hone their research, planning, teamwork, evaluation, and critical reflection skills.

Some 28,500 students in 550 post-primary schools follow this option (approx 50% of cohort).

 217.  Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if his attention has been drawn to the average extra cost imposed on families who have a child partaking in transition year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16666/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Information concerning the costs referred to by the Deputy is not available to my Department.

The key aim of the Transition Year Programme is to provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. The programme is also designed to enable students to experience a wide range of [786]educational inputs, and sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level. It is a maturing process and a chance to engage in group work, project work and self directed learning.

Schools are free to devise a flexible modular programme within an overall framework set out by my Department. The cost therefore of the programme is dependent upon the particular circumstances in any individual school.

My Department provides specific teaching resources and additional grant aid to schools that offer transition year.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 197.

 219.  Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will indicate the level of resources which would normally be provided by him to a new post primary school for the purposes of establishing its first transition year programme; if he will indicate the best practice guidelines that are available to schools in relation to transition year including class and group sizes, admissions, policy admission appeals, programme content and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16690/12]

 220.  Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will indicate the resources, if any, sought by a school (details supplied) for the establishment of a transition year programme for the 2012/2013 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16691/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos 219 and 220 together.

The Transition Year (TY) is a one-year programme that forms the first year of a three-year senior cycle. It is designed to act as a bridge between the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate programmes. It is available to all second level schools.

Each school designs its own Transition Year programme to suit the needs and interests of its students. A Transition Year Programmes document is published on my Department’s website and provides overarching guidelines on the Transition Year.

The management authority of each school carries responsibility for making decisions regarding the Transition Year Programme in that school. In some schools, the programme is compulsory for all students. In those that offer it as an option, circumstances may arise where it is necessary to limit the number of students who can avail of it.

It is the board of management of each individual school that decides the number of places available to students on programmes such as Transition Year. In cases where restrictions apply, schools should have clear procedures regarding how places are allocated to students.

My Department has recently published Circular 0009/2012 setting out the staffing arrangements for post-primary schools for the 2012/13 school year. A proportion of posts allocated to post-primary schools are determined on the basis of ratios of recognised pupils to teachers for the various approved programmes including Transition Year. The pupil teacher ratio (PTR) applicable in respect of Transition Year pupils is equal to the PTR applicable in respect of pupils enrolled in programmes such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Leaving Certificate Vocational (LCVP) programmes.

The school referred to by the Deputy has projected that there will be 24 pupils in Transition Year for the 2012/13 school year. These pupils will be included in the overall enrolment of the school when determining the 2012/13 staffing allocation for the school. The school has been [787]provisionally allocated 3 additional whole time equivalent teaching posts in respect of its total projected enrolment figure (including its TY pupils) for 2012/13


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