Transition year must not be scrapped says McNelis

The proposal to scrap transition year is “one of the most ill judged of recent times” and Government departments looking for savings “should be careful in this culture of cutbacks” not to “cut off our nose to spite our face”.

This is the view of Labour city councillor Niall McNelis who said that transition year “is far from the ‘doss year’” it is often characterised as, “but rather a most useful and constructive part of the current curriculum”.

He also described as “absurd” the suggestion that transition year should be scrapped on cost grounds and replaced by ‘community service’.

“Community service conjures up some notion of punishment in lieu of imprisonment,” said Cllr McNelis, “and what young people and teenagers in particular need is our support and encouragement and not our admonishment.”

Cllr McNelis said the current second level syllabus is “too exam focused and in dire need of reform” and hence removing the “broad based educational elements” such as transition year “would be a terrible mistake”

“Transition year, when properly structured and applied, leads to an enhancement of life skills, a broader learning opportunity, work experience, exposure to more subject choices and cultivates an aptitude for better career choices in later life,” he said.

He said too many students are finishing second level at 17 and are “often forced into hasty third level and career choices”.

“Participation in transition year can help address this problem,” he said. “Elements of transition year should be broadened out into the mainstream curriculum prior to Leaving Cert.”

He said too many young people are leaving school without experience in some fundamental life skills such as being able to drive; operate a bank account; learn how to swim, and be taught coping skills in order to better handle the pressures and demands of everyday life.

“Transition year does work and yields dividends,” he said, “both in terms of exam results and even more so outside of the exam metric in terms of maturity for the vast majority of students. Transition year should be expanded and not scrapped as its benefits cannot be solely measured in grades.”

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