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Childrens School Lives Reoprt

Children’s School Lives: Primary school children are mostly happy and positive about learning

Primary school children generally feel happy and safe at school and view it as a key component of happiness in their lives.

This is according to the (opens in a new window)latest report from the (opens in a new window)'Children’s School Lives' (CSL) study, a landmark UCD-led project following 4,000 children across 189 schools in Ireland.

Most children, it reports, expressed positive feelings towards school and that those at primary level most often feel happy, feel good about themselves, feel cared for, and feel safe.

These positive emotions however tend to decrease as they get older, particularly for girls, with a notable decrease beginning from 4th to 6th class.

Led by (opens in a new window)Professor Dympna Devine and Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds, and assistant professors (opens in a new window)Seaneen Sloanand (opens in a new window)Gabriela Martinez Sainz, from the UCD School of Education, and carried out on behalf of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the CSL study aims to follow thousands of children through their primary education to learn in detail about their experiences.

Its latest report found while most children report experiencing worry or anxiety at some point, these levels of anxiety overall appear to increase as children progress through primary school.


Children’s wellbeing is understood as developing through their school journey. Its trajectory is influenced by relationships, interactions, & experiences that shape feelings of self & engagement with learning.

Children in primary schools most often feel happy, feel good about themselves, feel cared for, and feel safe. These positive emotions tend to decrease as children move up through primary school.

Interviews with children suggest that the main sources of anxiety are friendship issues and worries about school success.

Teachers report low levels of emotional difficulties among children in their classes, and talk about their efforts to create a climate for wellbeing in their class.

Children reported very positive feelings about school and about learning, however this decreased from 1st through to 6th Class.

Friendships are a key source of happiness and support in school but also a source of stress. One-quarter of older children reported being a victim of bullying at least once.

2nd class children in 2023 report liking school more and having a more positive attitude towards learning than similar aged children in 2019.

Girls tend to report more positive feelings about school than boys, but also are more anxious about schoolwork & friendships. While this may suggest a gender difference, it may be that boys and girls differ in their willingness to report strong (positive/negative) emotions.

Other factors, including socio-economic background and ethnicity, mediate their experiences, as well as how specific school and classroom cultures and practices influence the range of wellbeing outcomes for children in primary schools.

Read the full report at: (opens in a new window)cslstudy.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/upl

Visit the (opens in a new window)#CSLstudy website at: (opens in a new window)cslstudy.ie

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