St Brendans College Killarney

Transition Year was introduced into St. Brendan’s for the 2010-11 academic year. This optional year had an immediate and very positive influence on life in St. Brendan’s. 

Transition year in St. Brendan’s from its outset has offered a diverse and beneficial range of learning experiences for the students.  At an academic level our students avail of the opportunity to experience tasters of each subject available to them as Fifth years, thereby allowing them the chance to make a more informed set of subject choices.

Students avail of a myriad of talks, tours, trips and co-curricular engagements which are designed to develop the spiritual, academic, physical, emotional and personal aspects of each student.

Transition Year offers students the opportunity to engage in a number of extracurricular activities including the Tidy towns efforts of the community in Killarney, fund raising, working with Killarney Lions Club, Life Saving Course, coaching with the GAA, FAI and Athletics Ireland, Occupational First aid and Microsoft Office Specialist courses.

At its’ core, TY is a one year programme enabling students to make the transition from Junior to Senior cycle. It encourages personal and social development and allows students take responsibility for their learning. It offers students the space to explore and develop how and who they want to become. It offers a time of reflective self-growth to our students, giving them multiple activities, opportunities and experiences which, if engaged with, will serve to develop every element of the young person. It also hands the locus of control to the young person in a controlled environment, allowing each student greater personal responsibility for his learning.

ESRI research shows that Transition year students retain their subjects at Higher level, or move up from ordinary to higher level, gain a better leaving certificate by 45 CAO points and develop greater initiative and co-operative skills.

Application for Transition Year follows the Parent Information evening in January of Third Year. Students complete an Application Form.


Why choose Transition Year?

Develop Mature, Independent Attitude to Learning

Transition year students learn how to work as part of a team and on their own.  The modules studied offer many opportunities to develop their individual learning styles.  Students can enjoy learning for learning’s sake as oppose to learning for an examination.

Increased Points in the Leaving Certificate

Students who complete Transition Year do better in their Leaving Certificate by an average of 40 points (research by ERSI).  Furthermore, Transition Year students are more likely to retain subjects at higher level and move up from ordinary level to higher level and from foundation to ordinary.

Improved Study Skills & Learning Strategies

Transition Year offers students a chance to learn-how-to-learn.  While all students studying for their Leaving Certificate will benefit from Study Skills classes and workshops the very nature of teaching and learning in Transition Year means that students continuously develop the skill they already have, without the pressure of state examinations, as well as acquiring new skills.

Self-Management Skills

Many Transition Year activities are student led not exam driven.  Students may be given themes of topics which they then plan, explore, investigate and present in their own individual way.  This process helps students to develop self-management skills in that they have to plan, organize, keep to deadlines and evaluate their work and progress.  Transition Year students are also more likely to be able to cope with the transition from Second Level to Third Level and stay on longer at Third Level as a result of having acquired such skills.

Improved Confidence & Self Esteem

The experiences outlined above will naturally improve a student’s confidence and develop their self-esteem.  Having tried many new activities and developed many new skills Transition Year students become confident in their ability to learn and to take on new challenges



Teaching & Learning Strategies

A key feature of our Transition Year is the use of a wide range of teaching and learning methodologies and techniques

  • Presentations
  • Problem-Solving
  • Activity based Learning
  • Experiential Learning
  • Negotiated Learning
  • Personal Responsibility for Learning
  • Group Work/Team Work
  • Discussion
  • Debate
  • Interview
  • Role Play
  • Project Work
  • Research & Investigation
  • Guest Speakers
  • Webinars
  • Study Trips/Field Trips


Assessment & Evaluation

Assessment is a vital part of the teaching and learning process, and as such forms an integral part of the Transition Year programme.

However, since the focus of Transition Year is student-centered, developmental learning as oppose to examination based learning, assessment takes many forms.

Continuous assessment in each subject/module may include:

  • Written tasks                                    
  • Practical tasks
  • Oral/Discussion
  • Aural/Listening/Understanding
  • Reports
  • Diary/Journal


Home-based tasks

Students will also be required to complete home-based tasks on a regular basis.  These tasks may take the form of written work, learning, reflection, creative activities, investigations and/or project work.


Reports and Exams

Transition year students will complete end of term exams at Christmas and in May.  These exams may be written, oral, aural or practical, depending on the subject/module.  These results will be combined with their continuous assessment throughout the module to produce a final grade for their report.


Transition Year Portfolio

Throughout Transition Year each student will compile a portfolio of work for assessment.  Students will be able to choose the pieces of work they are proudest of and which demonstrates their progress over the year.

  1. Table of contents
  2. Calendar of events
  3. Diary of all events, courses, visits, etc.
  4. Projects
  5. Subjects and modular material.


The Curriculum is structured into 4 layers


1. Core Subject Layer

Irish and Cultural Studies

  • Experience “Gaeilge” as a vibrant spoken language
  • Experience aspects through Irish Cultural activities—Gaeltacht trip
  • Develop a sense of love and respect of the Irish language and culture


English, Communication and Language Skills

  • Written word
  • Poetry, Novels & Plays
  • Public speaking & Debates
  • Film studies, Publications such as magazines newsletters, Theatre studies and competitions such as the Fresh Film International Festival



  • Algebra
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Statistics
  • Area & Volume
  • Geometry
  • Arithmetic


Religious Studies and S.P.H.E.

  • Human Rights
  • Types of Prayer
  • Charity work and fundraising
  • Philosophy
  •  Personal development


2. Subject Sampling Layer

  • Science:

          Biology, Agricultural Science & horticulture, Physics & Chemistry, Sports Nutrition

  • Enterprise and Business

          Business, Economics, Accounting & Money matters (investment & financing)

  • Environment and Society

          History, Geography and Tourism

  • Modern Languages

          French, German and Spanish*

  • Applied Sciences

          Construction studies, Design and Communication Graphics, Computer science,                Architecture, Computer Applications

  • Activity for Living

           P.E. (to include swimming, gym, sport psychology)

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Music


*Spanish is taught in St. Brigid’s



3. TY Specific Module & Subject Layer

The response of young people to The President’s award illustrates not only the great wealth of ingenuity and talent which they have to offer, but, more importantly, their tremendous willingness to explore and expand their abilities in a positive and constructive way

The work of The President’s Award Leaders, PALS, in encouraging and motivating young people to achieve their full potential is central to the success of the Award programme. Quite often, through family circumstance, low-self-esteem, lack of encouragement, shyness or lack of confidence, many young people never reach their potential and never quite rise to the many challenges and opportunities that life can throw their way.  Through your work as Leaders, you are facilitating them in taking that initial step, which for many can be a daunting and frightening leap.

I commend all concerned with the Award, both participants and PALS, for your hard work and for your dedication to the very spirit of what the Award is about, and I wish you every success in your future endeavour.                

Michael D Higgins  PATRON

Uachtarán na hÉireann


Bronze Award

  1. Community Involvement 13 weeks
  2. Personal Skill 13 weeks
  3. Physical Recreation 13 weeks

          An Additional activity of 13 weeks in any section of your choice in consultation with your PAL.

  1. Adventure Journey:

          Plan, prepare and undertake a 2 day, I night adventure journey in a group covering a minimum total distance of:  Walking 25—35 km or Cycling 100—130 km                  over 2 consecutive days.

“By doing the Gaisce Award I feel that I helped my community and bettered my health”


Young Social Innovators

Young Social Innovators (YSI) invites young people between the ages of 15 and 18 to work together to make radical, innovative suggestions and actions for change that can make a real difference to people’s lives, including their own.

YSI asks communities to rise to the challenge of encouraging and supporting young social innovators in their quest to create a better world.  Guides, education institutions, parents, businesses and other organizations are asked to help provide supportive environments for these young people.

YSI is an opportunity for young people and their communities to get involved in something that can potentially change the way society thinks about certain issues. It nurtures active citizenship and encourages community/voluntary work.  Everyone has a part to play in meeting the YSI vision to fire young people’s passion to change the world for good.

It’s anything young people feel strongly about.  It’s issues they feel should be tackled such as the environment, human rights, integration, poverty, global issues, community concerns and everyone’s physical and mental well-being.  What makes life better for young people? What makes life better for their community?  Participants direct their own project, take their own initiative and produce their own results.

  • Transition Year students complete the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) ICT course which replaces the ECDL course previously offered in the school. This new course supports the roll-out of Office 365 in the school and provides students with recognised certification in Microsoft Office applications. 
  • The MOS course is delivered by teachers through a blended learning approach of self-directed learning in our computer labs using Microsoft courseware, GMetrix testing software and Certiport exam software. 
  • Some of the modules on offer to students include Microsoft Word, MS Powerpoint (Presentations), MS Excel (Spreadsheets) and MS Outlook with the opportunity to complete additional modules such as Expert in Word and Excel.  Students receive individual MS Certification for each examination successfully completed.  This certification will be very beneficial to students and provide them with valuable IT skills for future studies at third level and in the employment industry.



Tuesday/Wednesday Modules

  1. First Aid/Grappling/Science projects
  2. Photography/Animal care
  3. Construction/Positive psychology
  4. Gardening/Cooking
  5. Podcasting/Sports psychology
  6. Physical education
  7. Drama/Film Studies
  8. Car safety



Work experience

“Work Experience” involves spending time as part of a school course learning first-hand about life in a workplace.

The employer agrees to co-operate with the school in taking on a student for a work experience placement, 3 separate weeks during the school year.  The employer knows that he is taking on a person as part of a learning experience.

The student needs to be aware that: 

  • The placement is part of the school course and offers a great learning opportunity.
  • The employer—who has an enterprise to run—is co-operating with the student with limited direct benefit to the enterprise.
  • Both employer will complete an Employer’s Report at the end of the placement. The student will complete a daily record of his Work Experience. These reports will become important documents for future reference and assessment in Transition Year.


Getting the best from Work Experience: 

To get the most from a work experience placement, it is worth thinking in terms of three stages.  For a student to get maximum benefit, it is important that each stage goes well. The three stages are:

  • Searching for a placement which will suit your interests—do this during the Summer months.
  • Presenting yourself to the employer and making a good case for yourself.
  • Understanding what the employer expects from you.


  • Turning up in good time.
  • Presenting yourself appropriately.
  • Following the instructions given by your supervisor.
  • Performing the given tasks.
  • Getting on with the other workers.
  • Dealing with people in a friendly and courteous way.


  • Thinking about the placement
  • Talking about placement with your family—and friends, if you wish.
  • Writing a report on your placement.
  • Discussing your work experience in class and with your teachers.
  • Clarifying, in the light of your placement, your plans for further work experience, for studying and for the future



4. Calendar “once off” Layer

Car Safety – Students will be given the chance to complete a driver education programme in preparation for becoming safe and responsible drivers. Munster Driving Centre & RSA.

First Aid Training – All students will complete Certified Occupational First Aid Course.

Tours – A Tour which is optional- Skiing Tour and/or Dublin trip

Law Education for Schools – This course is aimed towards Transition Year students.  It gives the students an introduction to Law and the definition and sources of law.  It gives specialised training in the skill of advocacy with an emphasis placed on a mock trial competition as a classroom activity.

Visiting speakers – Speakers will be talking to the Transition Year students on various relevant topics as opportunities arise throughout the year –  where possible.

Volunteering in the Community – TY is an ideal opportunity for your son to get involved with Special Olympics– Kerry Stars, St. Vincent de Paul, “Celtic Football for All” and any of the local clubs under age training programmes.

Green schools – Green-Schools is Ireland’s leading environmental management and education programme for schools.

Promoting long-term, whole-school action for the environment Green-Schools is a student-led programme with involvement from the wider community. The programme is operated and coordinated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce.

UNESCO – The UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) schools around a common goal to build peace in the minds of children and young people. Through concrete actions member schools promote the ideals of UNESCO valuing rights and dignity, gender equality, social progress, freedom, justice and democracy, respect for diversity and international solidarity. The Network operates at international and national levels with three clear priorities: education for sustainable development, global citizenship education and inter-cultural and heritage learning.

App development and animation – The students begin each year by designing and developing a Website. After the completion of the Website they begin Animation and Game Visualization through HTML, this gives them a good understanding of Animation and Game development. Following on from this they begin app design.  This leads to the creation of many different and individual ideas for websites and apps.

School magazine

School Bank – The School Bank is an association with Bank of Ireland. Students volunteer for the bank and are interviewed by a Bank of Ireland representative.  The selected students are allocated a role in the bank (bank manager, assistant manager etc.)  TY students encourage students in Junior Cycle to open accounts, lodge money, encourage saving etc.

Model United Nations  – The Model United Nations is a series of programs run throughout this country and the world with the goals of furthering understanding about the United Nations, educating participants about world issues and promoting peace and the work of the United Nations through cooperation and diplomacy.

They embark on a life-changing journey that will help you develop confidence in leading others, a stronger awareness of global issues, and the chance to make new friends from around the world. Model UN is a valuable experience that can help you get into college, find your first job, and become inspired to change the world. And most importantly, M-U-N is F-U-N!

They get started with Model United Nations” as follows

  1. What is Model UN and how do I sign up?
  2. How do I prepare for my first conference?
  3. What will a typical day in committee look like?
  4. Attend a 101 Workshop
  5. Attend a conference

This helps you to get started for your first conference. It’s important to dive right in because Model UN is an activity that can only be learned through participation.