Transition Year, is an integral and compulsory part of the Glenstal educational experience. Transition Year in a boarding school offers unique opportunities for participation in a wide range of interesting, formative and entertaining activities.
The school believes strongly in the merits and benefits of this experience and Glenstal’s Transition Year is one where there is definite structure and content (with defined expectations of meaningful achievements for each boy ) . At the same time, it is not a year where every last detail of what will be studied or experienced will be prescribed in advance. It is a year where boys, staff and parents work together to allow varied and new experiences of learning and real wonder to take place, and where valuable skills for life and living are discovered and absorbed. Many boys join the school in Transition Year and go on to complete the Leaving Certificate with us.
Freed from the constraints of the exam curricula, Transition Year allows the school work more fully according to its Benedictine ethos. Though the Rule of St Benedict was written for monks, many of its key values, such as discretion, freedom, gentleness and self-control permeate the design of our Transition Year programme, providing opportunities for an holistic approach to education. Flexibility and freedom is incorporated in our programme so that our students may grow and develop the full richness of their unique potential.
Between September and December, academic subjects are presented in a more innovative manner. Emphasis shifts away from an examination-centred approach, towards what we term ‘active learning’, based on project work. The programme attempts to explore different educational aims and methods with, by and for our students. This is also the period when the students will have the most ‘off-site’ activities such as adventure weekends, leadership training, retreat and visits to cultural and artistic events.
Emphasis is placed on our students achieving real and useful qualifications such as E.C.D.L, Safe Pass, Sailing Certificates and Pre-Driving courses. A full week is devoted to the Social Awareness programme, in order to engage students’ empathy. During the week, each student volunteers with service agencies working with people with disabilities and the elderly in the greater Limerick area. This experience gives the boys powerful insights into the challenges faced daily by people with disabilities.
The month of January is devoted to Work Experience, challenging the students to participate in the real world awaiting them beyond school. Each boy spends a week working in three separate adult work environments. Placements are worked out in collaboration with each boy’s parents, according to the student’s interests and aptitudes. The aim of this programme is that one or more of his three placements will help the student in his subject/career choices, while also enhancing work and social skills.
During February and March we focus on teaching Leaving Certificate modules in all of the core subjects, using innovative and inter-disciplinary modes of teaching, as recommended by the Department of Education and Skills. A key aim of this part of the programme is to allow students to make an informed choice of subjects for the senior cycle. These three months are taken very seriously, and a high degree of consultation between school, boys and parents takes place in order to allow the maximum number of students do their preferred subjects for the Leaving Certificate.
Another important aim of this part of the programme is to reveal to students the complexity of the work they will face in 5th Year and thereby act as a bridge between the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate.
The final term is devoted to the Foreign Exchange programme – a unique feature of the Glenstal Transition Year experience. This is a long-established tradition in the school, and we cherish our connection to each of our European partner schools. Each student spends eight weeks in either France, Belgium, Germany or Austria, attending school, and sharing the lives of their host families. Their exchange partners come to Glenstal at different periods throughout the year. The exchanges are a vital tool in helping the students with their language skills, while also broadening their horizons and introducing them to the richness of other cultures.