The Team

Dr. Ed Baines

Ed was the co-director and researcher on the previous Breaktime project in 2006 and the main researcher on the Spencer Foundation funded project involving a longitudinal study of breaktime games and peer relations. His main research interest is in peer interactions and relationships in and outside of school and particularly in relation to school breaktimes and mealtime environments.

Prof. Peter Blatchford

Peter has an international reputation for his work on school breaktimes/recess, and has written many books and papers. He conducted the first national survey of breaktimes in England (also funded by the Nuffield Foundation), and (with Professor Tony Pellegrini) a Spencer Foundation funded project on the significance of playground games in peer relations and friendships in the UK and USA.

Helen MacIntyre

Dr. Jasmine Spence

Helen's research examines "School Eating Times as Contexts for Children’s Peer Relationships and Adjustment to School". This doctoral study of children in Year 5 (9-10 years) focuses on children's interactions during the time that they eat their lunches together at school. Helen is interested in the developmental value of this particularly informal conversational school micro-system (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1989) for children's relationships with one another and for their consequent adjustment to school. As with Blatchford and Baines (2010) breaktime research, this work makes a contribution to debates about adult structuring of children's social lives and concerns about a reduction in recent decades in the free time children have to spend with their peers. This mixed methods study is intended to provide a description of the interactions which take place during school eating times and to examine their connection with children's friendships and wider peer relationships. Quantitative data collection includes systematic observation of children's mealtime interactions and child completion of questionnaires about their relationships with one another and liking for school. Qualitative data collection includes video analyses of selected children's interactions with peer during eating times and interviews with these same children.


Jasmine undertook research on "The peer relations of pupils with and without special educational needs in mainstream primary schools: Interactions in the playground and in class." This study examined the nature of peer interactions within classroom and playground settings of pupils with and without special educational needs. It sought to examine the relationship between the provisions in place to support pupils with special educational needs (PSEN) and their possible connection with peer relations. The study also included the voice of the child to provide an in-depth account of the peer relations and breaktime experiences of PSEN compared to their non-SEN peers. Data drawn from systematic observations, sociometric rating scales, questionnaires and interviews with pupils suggested an important connection between adult interactions with children, peer interactions in the classroom and in the playground and peer relations measures. Whilst PSEN described a range of benefits that breaktimes provide for them, a number of challenges relating to peer relations were also identified. View her Thesis here

Dr. Simon Higley

Simon's research for his DEdPsy examined "The Social Lives and Friendships of Children with Special Educational Needs Outside of School: Parent Perspectives". A considerable amount of research has explored the social opportunities of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) during school time but there has been relatively little research that has focused on these opportunities outside of school and particularly in the UK. This exploratory study sought parents' perspectives on their children's social opportunities and friendships outside of school. The study involved a mixed methods approach, incorporating two phases of data collection as well as background data from the Millennium Cohort Study. In phase 1, 229 parents of children and adolescents with a range of different SENs participated in a survey and provided information in response to closed and open ended questions. In phase 2, 5 parents took part in semi-structured interviews focusing on their experiences and views of their children's social lives outside of school. Findings show that children with SEN saw other children less frequently outside of school and were less likely to have at least one good friend than children without SEN. This was particularly the case for children with statements or Education and Health Care plans. The majority of children were found to participate in at least one organised activity outside of school each week. In interviews parents raised issues related to their children's social opportunities, these related to both 'within child' factors and environmental factors and were reported to impact upon children's social participation outside of school. Findings are discussed in relation to the need for social interventions to be developed that bridge school and home settings.

View his Thesis here