Children’s School Lives (CSL)

National longitudinal cohort study of primary schooling in Ireland.

Children’s School Lives (CSL)

Children’s School Lives (CSL) is an exciting new national longitudinal cohort study of primary schooling in Ireland. Launched on October 25th 2018, the study follows approximately 4,000 children across 189 schools through their primary school years. The study is now in year 3 and uses surveys and interviews with children, teachers and parents, as well as classroom observations. This ground-breaking study will provide rich and insightful pictures of children’s experiences in primary schools in Ireland. The study will also show how these experiences both shape and are shaped by schools as communities, institutions, and as a system.

Research plays a central role in all NCCA’s curriculum development work at early childhood, primary and post-primary. Children’s experiences, and the perspectives of their teachers, school management and parents on what happens in schools, are an important part of connecting practice with national policy. Aptly titled, Children’s School Lives, the study will inform the NCCA’s work in reviewing and updating the primary curriculum to ensure it continues to provide a strong foundation for teaching and learning. The findings will likely also be useful to schools in reviewing and further developing their own policies and practices.  

The study is being carried out by University College Dublin with the first wave on data-gathering begun in Q1, 2019.

To date, four reports have been published:

  • Report 1 (2020) introduces us to the children and schools behind Children’s School Lives
  • Report 2 (2020) is entitled Experiences of Remote Teaching and Learning in Ireland During the COVID-19 Pandemic (March – May 2020) and provides insights into the impact of the extended school closure earlier this year on children, parents, teachers and school leaders
  • Report 3 (2021) provides data on Children’s School Lives in Junior Infants and focuses on the youngest children in the study. The multiple perspectives gathered from the children themselves, their families, teachers and school principals, converge to provide us with a rich, detailed picture of the children’s first year in school.
  • Report 4 (2022) Children’s School Lives: Preschool to Primary School Transition was focuses on the transition from preschool to primary school, a significant event not only in the lives of the children, but also their families.
  • Report 5 (2023): Children’s School Lives: Primary Pedagogies: Children and teachers’ experiences of pedagogical practices in primary schools in Ireland 2019 - 2022 was published on 20 June 2023. This is the first multi-cohort report, and it draws on data from across the first four years of the study. It presents a unique, rich picture of life from junior infants to fifth class and responds to two central and interconnected questions: a) what is it like to be a learner in a primary classroom? and b) why do teachers do what they do in the classroom?
  • Report 6 (2023) Children’s School Lives: Curriculum and Assessment in Children's School Lives: Experiences from Primary Schools in Ireland 2019-2023. This report presents the findings from an in-depth exploration of how children experience curriculum and assessment in their everyday lives and as they progress through primary school.
  • Report 7 (2024) Children’s School Lives: Children’s wellbeing in Irish Primary Schools (2019 to 2023). This report captures an important picture of children and their wellbeing as they transition into, across and out of primary school.

Visit the Children's School Lives website here.