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Teachers' union rejects Friends of the Elderly's Transition Year claims

Earlier today, the Friends of the Elderly said they wanted the “self-indulgent” year scrapped.

A SECONDARY SCHOOL teachers’ union has rejected claims by the Friends of the Elderly group that Transition Year is a “self-indulgent” gap year that should be completely overhauled.

“We certainly wouldn’t see it as an unnecessary added-extra,” Pat King of the ASTI told RTÉ Radio One, adding that he was “very disappointed” with the comments from the organisation.

“A society has to be judged on how well it treats its elderly and its young – and they are not in Opposition to one another,” said King.

Earlier today, spokesperson for the Friends of the Elderly Declan Kirwan told The John Murray Show that Transition Year should be replaced with a Community Service Year.

He said Ireland is currently in the middle of a massive crisis and a change of emphasis is needed in schools.

Kirwan described Transition Year as “unfocused” and “of dubious value”.

“We think it is a luxury,” he added. “We’re in such trouble in this country, the economy is in shatters and the care for the elderly in financial ruins.”

His group has proposed a Community Service Year with an aim to “produce good citizens who care for the vulnerable in society”.

Transition Year as it stands is about experiencing new things and personal development, he said, but it should be more about social development.

The Friends of the Elderly currently runs a Transition Year programme and King noted that there is ample opportunity for students to get more involved in the community as they are not involved in State examinations.

Refuting the claims by Kirwan, King also noted that recent analysis showed parents, schools and students are happy with current programmes, although he conceded that improvements could be made.

He added that Transition Year is a proven and effective way to build students’ confidence, knowledge of society and involvement in the community, as well as providing time to improve academic skills.

Addressing Kirwan’s claims that the Fourth Year can be a financial strain on families, King said that programmes are designed to suit the resources of each school and student.

The Irish Times earlier reported that Kirwan called for “scrapping” of TY but the spokesperson said that word was too “violent”.

I would change the emphasis completely, redesign it and call it Community Service Year.

Listen to more from Declan Kirwan on the John Murray Show>

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