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Welcome to our School Resources page

The census is a key source of information for everyone in our country. It provides information in relation to who we are, what we do and how we live our daily lives. This in turn provides the knowledge that we all need to make decisions and plan for the future. The Census is used by people all over the country including the government, local authorities, businesses, local communities and students who use it for a wide variety of purposes. The lessons below were designed with Census 2016 in mind but can be used as a learning tool to inform on censuses in Ireland in general too.  An added bonus is that the results from Census 2016 are now available to explore on the cso website.

General Information for Students and Teachers

Why is the census of interest to students?

The information that we get from the census pervades our daily lives. It provides us with:

  • the data we need to understand who we are and what we do, and
  • the ability to use the information to create knowledge about what we need and how to best go about acting on the information to achieve the best outcome for everyone.

It describes the society in which we live and helps us to understand that society better, whether in the make up of our ages, origins, activities or any of the other key attributes for which data is collected in the census.

Learning about the census and about how to effectively use census and other statistical data is a key part of our education. It helps us to understand our society and our role as responsible citizens in participating in that society.

You may not realise it but, as a student, the census is relevant to several different subject areas that you study in primary and secondary school.

It helps us to learn some very important skills. For instance learning how data is collected, analysed and reported in a meaningful way not only helps our maths, presentational and descriptive skills but it helps us to understand the data that is presented to us. It gives us the skills to ask questions to find the facts to support our understanding of what is happening in the world around us in a meaningful way. As students you will use these skills in many of your future studies whether these are in the areas of maths, business, economics, history, geography or in conducting scientific projects.

Census information is available for Ireland as a whole or by region, for our cities, by county, electoral division and since 2011 by small areas. This allows us to view and compare the results compiled for different geographical areas, whether we want to compare Ireland as a whole with our own local area or own local area with neighbouring areas. 

It also helps us to understand our past. The availability of old census returns from 1901 and 1911 on the National Archives website has been hugely popular with Irish people all over the world, who want to find out about their ancestors and about how we as a nation lived at the start of the last century. The availability of these returns provides us with endless opportunities to study and analyse our past, to view the development of our society at a national or local level over time, to view trends and to gain an appreciation of our past. Just think, the census forms that we completed in 2016, although they won’t be available to see until 2117 under the 100 year confidentiality rule, show us as we are in 2016 and allow our descendants to get to know us better and to see how things have changed over the course of the 21st century.

The census is also of course an important source of socio-economic data and provides the basis for the analysis of much other socio-economic statistical data that we see and use in our daily lives. The skills that students learn from studying and analysing the census will be relevant in their study of economics and business in addition to providing very useful information for their research into various aspects of these fields of study and in the decision making that they will make in their future careers.

Census data is available for everyone to use. The results of Census 2016 are published online on the CSO website at, where you can also find extensive interactive data from the census held in 2016, 2011, 2006 and 2002. All of this data is searchable and is free for use by anyone.

Primary Schools Resources

This series of topic-based lessons was designed by primary teachers for first to sixth classes to help children understand what the census is about and to learn how and why a census is conducted.

Each lesson has been developed specifically to incorporate the principles of the Primary School Curriculum.

The lessons resources were designed by practicing teachers and those involved in curriculum development and have been piloted in classroom situations. The Central Statistics Office wish to extend particular thanks to Carmel Burns for developing and producing this resource.

The Census Lesson Packs include:

  • Comprehensive teacher notes and lesson plans

  • Census information

  • Census flashcards/fact cards

  • Sample Census forms

  • Integration ideas

  • Assessment tasks

  • Home/school links

  • Extension activities


    Lesson Resources for First and Second Classes: 

Lesson Overview

  • Lesson Overview

  • Lesson 1

  • Lesson 2

  • Lesson 3

  • Lesson 4

    Extension Activities

    Secondary Schools Resources

    Resources have been developed for use in the following 2nd level subject areas:

    History Resource

    This history resource for secondary schools is aimed at both teachers and students of senior history. It addresses the use of old census records and the information these contain. The resources have been designed to be used by students at the following levels:

    Junior cycle students can benefit in two areas from the use of census materials. In first year, the work of the historian is introduced, and students should find that the 1901 and 1911 census material is easy to engage with. In third year, the census material can be used to illustrate changing life-styles in Ireland from 1900. The unit on the Brogan family in 1911 or the unit on Grace Gifford using the material from the 1911 census material are recommended for use in first or third year.

    Transition Year students can undertake a more detailed examination of census materials, prior to undertaking a personal project based in part or in whole on the 1901 and 1911 census. The full section on Evidence and Enquiry: Using the 1901 and 1911 census in the History classroom, incorporating material from John O’Connell’s family in 1901 and 1911, the four other individuals from 1911, as well as the unit on the Brogan family are suitable for use in whole or in part in the transition year classroom.

    Leaving Certificate students have the opportunity to use the 1901 and 1911 census materials for the research study report. Students can base their study on the 1901 and 1911 materials

    Download the History resources:

  • Enable students to understand a census.

  • Show students how census information is used.

  • Take part in a Census action Project

  • Duration 6-10 classes.

    CSPE Resources

    Geography Resource

    This material has been developed to enable Geography students and teachers to explore the use of the Census in the context of the geography curriculum.  The lessons are broken up by year – first, second, transition and sixth year. The first year material introduces the CSO and Census to the classroom and assigns a county based geography project to students, providing two sample projects for counties Meath and Donegal. The second year course guides students through the use of the SAPMAP mapping tool, which is available on the Census Publications page of the CSO website, to find census data geographically. This data can then be used to analyse, compare and contrast data and report on selected population attributes.  The transition year course further develops the skills involved in using SAPMAP to extract localised census data for students in their own geographical areas. The final course sets a project for students to examine population trends in a particular area and to use this information to make predictions and plan for the future.

    1st Year

  • 6th Year 

  • 2 summary reports giving highlights on a variety of topics

  • 11 profile reports each addressing a census topic in greater depth.

    The reports are made up of;

  • Easy to read commentary, interpretation and analysis of the data along with graphs, thematic maps and infographics

  • Statistical tables

  • Appendices which include explanatory information relevant to the report e. g. the 2016 Census form, notes on how the census was conducted, changes to census questions, definitions of terms and methodologies, listings of classifications and coding used. 

    Interactive Tables

    In addition, the reports are accompanied by a range of interactive web tables, allowing users to build their own tables by selecting the data they are interested in and downloading it in an easy to use format for their own analysis.

    Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS)

    The Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) are available for 14 different types of geographical area, including Small Areas comprising 80 – 100 households approximately. These are available online and can be searched and downloaded using an interactive mapping tool (SAPMAP). The complete set of results for a range of geographic areas – from the State right down to province, county, town, electoral division and  small local areas – can be accessed free online through an easy to use interactive mapping application on the CSO web site.

    Data Visualisation (in association with AIRO)

    Finally, in co-operation with the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) summary census data is also available in thematic maps for Electoral Districts and all Small Areas.

    Other Census School Resources.

    There are other schools resources available on the CSO website.  To view, click here.