A follow up survey of break and lunch times in schools

Most primary and secondary schools have a recreational break and these lunch and break times are a significant part of the school day. Two previous surveys conducted by Professor Peter Blatchford and Dr Ed Baines found that school break-times had reduced since 1990. Since then, there are signs of further changes to the nature and length of break times, as well as to school systems and children's lives outside school. However, there is little up-to-date and systematic information about the nature and organisation of break times and children's social lives.

This new project comprises a follow-up survey of break and lunch times in primary and secondary schools. It will focus on their timing and duration, supervision arrangements, changes to school grounds, rules for pupil movement during break times, views on pupil behaviour at break times, break time management, and the perceived value and function of these times. Combined with the previous surveys, it will provide an analysis of trends in break and lunch times over 26 years.

In Phase 1 of the new project, the researchers will conduct a national survey of schools, focusing on their arrangements for break and lunch times and their provision of social-educational opportunities during these times and outside of school hours. In Phase 2 they will carry out case studies of schools to explore different break and lunch time arrangements. They will also conduct a survey of children and young people to examine their social life in and outside of school.

The project's findings will contribute to policy and debate about the role and function of break times in school and in children's social lives.

Project details



Dr Ed Baines and Professor Peter Blatchford

Department of Psychology and Human Development, UCL Institute of Education

Grant amount and duration:


September 2016 - February 2019



School break and lunch times and young people's social lives: a follow-up national study, Ed Baines and Peter Blatchford, May 2019

Research briefing

Executive summary

Full report