Belvedere College - Transition Year

Transition Year

Transition Year

Transition Year Programme

1. Overview of the Transition Year Programme

1.1 Introduction
Transition Year (TY) in Belvedere College is a compulsory programme. It is designed to act as a bridge between junior and senior cycle. It provides students with an opportunity to experience a wide range of educational activities, including work experience and community care, over the course of a year that is free from formal examinations. The aim of TY is to educate students for maturity with an emphasis on personal development, social awareness and skills for life.
1.2 Benefits of Transition Year
Research indicates very high levels of satisfaction among teachers, parents/guardians and students with TY and how it supports learning and the all-round development and maturity of students. TY is valued for the variety of learning experiences, often in ‘taster’ subjects and new areas of learning, that it offers students. It is seen as contributing in significant ways to the broad skill development of students; in this context, skills in personal and social development and life skills are often mentioned. Work experience and community placement are highly valued elements of the TY.
The diverse assessment and reporting methods and the opportunity for the student to gain additional qualifications are viewed very positively. Above all, the future orientation of the TY and the contribution it can make towards students facing the future with a more mature, capable, confident and assertive outlook are seen as successful features of the programme. In their feedback on TY, students frequently cite how TY helps them grow as a person, how they get to experience a great diversity of learning through TY activities, and how they learn a lot about skills that prove useful in study and in life after school.
In addition, students taking TY generally perform better in Leaving Certificate examinations, and make better choices when selecting their Leaving Certificate subjects.

2. Designing the TY Programme in 2020/21

As Belvedere College re-opens, much of what is most valued by teachers, parents/guardians and students can continue to be central features of the school’s TY programme. Continuity in TY as experienced in previous years can be maintained and sustained in many ways. It is, of course, recognised that planning for TY in this school year will need to take account of some areas where the impact of the pandemic may be felt, for example, in the area of work experience or in the scale of external visits and external learning activities.
Our Transition Year programme is designed at school level and based on a multi-layered approach that includes:
• A core layer: this includes English, Irish, Mathematics, Relationships and Sexuality Education (delivered within the SPHE programme) and Physical Education (PE)
• A subject sampling layer: for example, the sciences, languages, classics, history,
geography and other option subjects.
• TY specific modules: Tuesday and Thursday pursuits and activities
• A calendar layer: this includes work experience and/or community care.
A key to a successful TY programme is the use of a wide range of learning, teaching and assessment methodologies and educational activities. Curriculum content is a matter for selection and adaptation by the individual subject departments having regard to the TY guidelines, the requirements of students and the views of parents/guardians. Content and methodology is decided upon in the light of the ability levels and needs of the particular students. The needs of students in the coming school year will relate in part to re-engaging them fully with learning following the school closure period, monitoring and observing that re-engagement, and discussing with them the inclusion in TY of those curriculum areas and aspects of learning they may have concerns about following the closure of schools in March.

3. Planning for TY 2020/21

In planning for TY in this academic year, it has been important to:
• Plan for teaching, learning and assessment in a way that builds on and progresses students’ learning from junior cycle. Given the likelihood that the school closure period will have impacted on students’ learning in variable ways, subject departments may focus on missed work laying the foundations for progression through the senior cycle.
• Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Physical Education now form part of the core programme.
• Ensure that learning for students in this year’s TY, as in a typical TY, involves a strong engagement with knowledge, the development of personal, social and learning skills, a focus on wellbeing and a strong emphasis on creativity; all of these components should feature through a variety of learning areas and activities
• Identify priority areas for knowledge and skills development for students entering TY in September 2020 that bridge the learning between junior and senior cycle
• Build on the recent experiences of remote learning during school closures to include opportunities within TY courses and modules for a mix of teacher-led, student-led, self-directed, and inquiry-led learning that will support progression to Senior Cycle
• Subject teachers will engage with pupils on developing digital learning skills relevant to their subject.
• Plan for alternative school-based or on-line activities to replace co-curricular and extracurricular programmes that may not be possible or which may need to be cancelled at short notice
• Work with parents/guardians and pupils to facilitate work experience where possible. If work experience is not possible, plan for school provision of alternative equivalent learning. This may include:
  • the non-experiential aspects of work experience such as careers investigations (guidance department)
  • modules in employment skills including, for example, online courses/modules on Health and Safety in work
  • Pupils can organise virtual tours of workplaces, businesses and companies
• Continue the existing good practice of planning TY programmes that are creative and innovative and not three-year Leaving Certificate programmes.

Planning and implementing TY in 2020/21 is challenging in a context where public health requirements restrict some of the normal activities associated with TY. Providing continuity and progression in learning for TY students is a planning priority, especially in the context of the need to re-engage students who have not experienced the normal milestones of completing the certificate examinations and receiving their Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA).

TY Coordinator
The TY coordinator (Stuart Colohan) has a central role in leading planning. Building on established planning practice, the co-ordinator has planned a programme that reflects the new and changing circumstances, with specific consideration of aspects that are especially challenging such as work experience, school trips and engagement with external speakers.

Teachers' Planning 
Teachers are best placed to review all aspects of their current programmes and to adapt those programmes as necessary. Much of what is in existing TY programmes can be built on and, for the 2020/21 school year, the main additional task involves establishing continuity with Junior Cycle and monitoring student re-engagement with learning so that skills can be built upon for further senior cycle learning.

4. Planning for teaching, learning and assessment in TY

4.1 Wellbeing 
The impact of the Covid pandemic on all aspects of life has heightened awareness of the importance of supporting wellbeing within school communities as students return to school. Transition year provides a particular space where students’ wellbeing needs can be addressed.
The start of transition year is an important opportunity for building relationships and connections. Bonding activities can continue to be a part of the TY programme, provided they adhere to health and social distancing guidelines. In this context, outdoor activities continue to merit consideration.
Transition year also provides an opportunity for students to build upon and develop the strengths and skills they need to support their wellbeing now and for the future. Students should use the pastoral systems in place in Belvedere College (from tutors, chaplains, etc) to address any concerns they may have regarding their well being.
4.2 TY Specific Modules (Pursuits and Activities)
The Pursuits and Activities emphasise the key skills of TY including:
  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Digital technology.
These modules may be subject to change as the Covid pandemic evolves. Pupils need embrace the ideals if TY and engage with the modules they will be allocated.
4.3 Calendar Layer
4.3.1 Co-cirricular Activities
One of the key features of our TY programmes in Belvedere College is the extensive co- curricular and extracurricular activities. These aspects often involve students travelling to locations outside schools on private or public transport to participate in the activities. However, restrictions that may exist in the context of COVID-19 could place considerable constraints on these aspects of the school’s programme. In planning for these activities, alternative arrangements have been considered. For example, many of the usual providers of these activities/experiences have adapted to providing online access if required.
4.3.2 Work Experience and Community Care
The block release dates for work experience and community care have been pushed out to March 2021 and May 2021. In cases where it is possible for students to safely complete their work experience in the first term in accordance with public health advice and social distancing requirements, they should do so. We ask that the TY coordinator be informed at least two weeks prior to the placement through filling on a “request for Leave of Absence” form which is available in the TY office.
4.3.3 Visiting Speakers/Group Talks
A common feature of TY programmes is the involvement of visiting speakers or outside agencies in delivering talks or programmes to students. In this regard:
• ‘Virtual Visits’ rather than face-to-face visits may be considered and appropriate arrangements put in place
• Visits to the school during the school day will be by prior arrangement
• Prior to a visit, speakers should comply with any advance health requirements in place at the time

Please click HERE to download the 2020-21 Transition Year Programme

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