Break times

during the COVID pandemic

Breaktimes during the Covid Pandemic

The COVID pandemic is challenging us all to adapt and do things in a different way. No more is this evident than in schools where many have had to make substantial changes to the way that they organise their school day and in particular in relation to break and lunch times. We know that schools have arrived at varied and interesting approaches towards the organisation of break and lunch times in the school day, and we are keen to collect an overall understanding of changes made and the challenges faced by schools across the country.


Possible changes may relate to the number, duration and organisation of breaks, the extent to which they are staggered for different groups of children and in terms of the ways that children are supervised and supported in these settings. It may be the case that children have different access to resources and materials, or different access to different areas of the school site and views may have changed about the value of breaks within the school day. It is likely that some adjustments will be seen as an improvement on previous practices and we would like to hear about these instances.


We are interested to hear about the experiences across different schools, primary, secondary and for the first time from special schools.

The surveys will be live from the 23rd April 2021.


Participation is voluntary and will involve completing a short 10-15 minute online survey. All information collected will be confidential and held in accordance with data protection regulations. Further information (including a data protection privacy notice) is provided in the following information sheets for mainstream schools or special schools. Results will be anonymous, for example, no identifiable details will be disclosed in the reporting of results.


We are keen for as many schools as possible to participate, as little systematic information on these times in the school day is officially collected by the Department for Education, or any other organisation. Results from this research will inform a national and international picture of the role of breaktimes in school in England and could potentially inform policy decisions and educational policy about school break times. As with previous studies, we hope to share key findings with schools, educational professionals and policy makers via a Research Briefing that will summarise the results of the surveys.


The researchers leading each of the different surveys are:

Jonathan Porrino

Abigail Gilbert

Emma Eynon