Eager and Able to Learn (EAL) Baseline, 2008-2009

The developmental status of 2-3 year old children entering group-based settings in Northern Ireland

Study number (SN): 0064-00


Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation, Queen's University Belfast (2018). Eager and Able to Learn (EAL) baseline survey 2008-2009: the developmental staus of 2-3 year old children entering group-based settngs in Northern Ireland. [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0064-00. URL https://www.ucd.ie/issda/datasetsintheissda/eagerandabletolearnealbaselinesurvey2008-2009/





This study comprises of three datasets containing the findings of a baseline survey conducted as part of the evaluation of the 'Eager and Able to Learn (EAL)' programme, the pilot programme designed by Early Years, which is the organisation for young children in Northern Ireland.

The programme is targeted at 2-3 years olds in early years settings. The baseline survey was conducted between October 2008 and January 2009. The purpose of the baseline survey was to gain a 'snapshot' of the developmental stages of a large sample of 2-3 year old children in Northern Ireland. A secondary purpose was to find out the perceptions of children's parents and practitioners in the early years setting, about the developmental needs of 2-3 year olds and their associated actions and interactions with the children.



  • Child Development
  • Children






 Children aged 2-3 years in early years settings in Northern Ireland and their parents and practitioners at early years settings in Northern Ireland 


Observation units

  • Individual


Temporal coverage

From 10/2008 to 01/2009


Geographical coverage

Country: United Kingdom, Northern Ireland 


Methods of data collection

  • PAPI (Pencil and Paper Interview, Self-completion)
  • PAPI (Pencil and Paper Interview, with interviewer)


Sampling procedures

The children were accessed through the early years centres in which they were enrolled in October 2008. Ninety early year centres took part in the survey in total. Sixty eight were day nurseries and twenty two were Sure Start programmes. In total, six hundred and fifty five children participated; three hundred and forty one boys (52.1%) and three hundred and fourteen girls (47.9%). The mean age was two years and seven months.

The sample was not representative of the Northern Irish population of 2-3 year old children as it was confined to children who attended centre-based early years settings and did not include children who were looked after by relatives and child-minders, or by their parents during the day.

In total, five hundred and one parents and two hundred and thirty practitioners completed a questionnaire. 



Response rate

Of 82 schools selected 28 agreed to take part. In total 1081 pupils took part, 510 females and 571 males. 527 pupils were in Year 4 and 554 were in Year 7. Ages ranged from 7 to 12 years old. The mean age of Year pupils was 7.8 years old and the mean age of Year 7 pupils was 10.8 years old. 57 pupils did not give consent for their answers to be included in the study.




Data (available through ISSDA application process)

File name

File format/s

Contents of file

0064-00_ealbaseline_1_childbayley_2018 SPSS

Survey results for children

0064-00_ealbaseline_2_parentquestionnaire_2018 SPSS

Survey Results for parents

 0064-00_ealbaseline_3_practionerquestionnaire_2018 SPSS

Survey results for practitioners



Documentation (available for download)


File name


File format/s

Contents of file

 0064-00 EAL_Baseline_Summary


Background of study, data dictionary, values and labels for all variables and measures used




McGuinness, C., Connolyy, P., Eakin, A and Miller, S. (2012) The developmental status of 2-3 year old children entering group-based settings in Northern Ireland: Survey findings, Belfast: Centre for Effective Education, Queens University Belfast. https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/publications/the-developmental-status-of-2-3-year-old-children-entering-group-



Accessing the data

To access the data, please complete a ISSDA Data Request Form for Research Purposes, sign it, and send it to ISSDA by email.

For teaching purposes, please complete the ISSDA Data Request Form for Teaching Purposes, and follow the procedures, as above. Teaching requests are approved on a once-off module/workshop basis. Subsequent occurrences of the module/workshop require a new teaching request form.

Data will be disseminated on receipt of a fully completed, signed form. Incomplete or unsigned forms will be returned to the data requester for completion.

Please note that any reference to signature and date in this document can be read as meaning the typed name and date where such an application is forwarded electronically. 


Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation, Queens University Belfast 


This study was funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

The research team consisted of Professor Carol McGuinness, Professor Paul Connolly, Dr. Angela Eakin and Dr. Sarah Miller. 

Any work based in whole or part on resources provided by ISSDA, should  acknowledge: "Eager and Able to Learn (EAL) Baseline 2008-2009: the developmental status of 2-3 year old children entering group-based settings in Northern Ireland" and also ISSDA, in the following way: “Accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive - www.ucd.ie/issda”.

Citation requirement

The data and its creators shall be cited in all publications and presentations for which the data have been used. The bibliographic citation may be in the form suggested by the archive or in the form required by the publication.

Bibliographical citation

Centre for Effective Education , Queen's University Belfast. (2018). Eager and Able toLlearn (EAL) baseline 2008-2009 [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0064-00. URL http://www.ucd.ie/issda/data/readytolearnrtlbaseline2008/


The user shall notify the Irish Social Science Data Archive of all publications where she or he has used the data.