Institute of Education


Our staff

Head of department

Prof Peter Blatchford

Prof Peter Blatchford



UCL Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way


  • Professor of Psychology and Education
    IOE - Psychology & Human Development
    UCL Institute of Education

Joined UCL


  1. Support Staff in Schools Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) www.maximisingTAs.co.uk Recently completed a 5 year study of the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) in primary, secondary and special schools in England and Wales, funded by English and Welsh Governments (2003-2009). The largest study worldwide on paraprofessionals in education. Proposes radical rethinking of their pedagogical role – to make best use of valuable resource. Followed by: 1. Esmee Fairbairn funded project (2010-2011) developing and evaluating alternative ways of deploying and preparing TAs. 2. Nuffield funded project 'Making a Statement' (2011-2013). There is surprisingly little systematic information on the overall support experienced by pupils with Statements of Special Educational Needs(SEN)included in mainstream schools. The aim of this research was to answer the question: "which adults provide what inputs and provisions, and in what proportions, to pupils with a Statement of SEN in mainstream primary schools"? SENSE project (2014-17) follow up study of pupils with SEN into secondary schools, funded by Nuffield.
  2. Class Size Effects www.classzizeresearch.org Directed a pioneering UK longitudinal large scale research project on the effects of class size differences at reception, Key Stage 1 and 2 (i.e., 5-11 years) on pupil academic attainment and classroom processes. It was funded by the Government, Local Authorities and the ESRC. Of international significance, it was unique in its scale and methodology, and conducted by a large team at the Institute of Education. Many presentations and publications, e.g., 'The Class Size Debate', (Open UP, 2003) A further study at primary and secondary school level using data from the DISS project found that at secondary level low attaining pupils in particular were more likely to be off task in large classes.  Commissioned to write a major review of 'the three generations of class size research' for the new American Psychological Association Educational Psychology Handbook, published in 2011, and has given keynotes on small classes in Hong Kong. Current Leverhulme funded project 'Class Size and Effective Teaching' international network
  3. Group Work www.SPRinG-Project.org.uk Co-directed a major ESRC project on developing and evaluating a programme to improve the effectiveness of pupil group work in classrooms. (SPRinG project). This was one of the nine successful proposals to the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme, Phase 2. Responsible for work at Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 7-11 years). Despite teachers' worries it would take time from curriculum, found very successful effect of collaborative group work on science attainment. Earlier co-directed (with Prof Peter Kutnick) two Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded studies of the nature and uses of within class grouping practices in primary and secondary schools. Full account of this work in 'Effective Group Work in Primary School Classrooms: The SPRinG Approach' (Kutnick and Blatchford, 2013)
  4. Breaktimes/recess in schools www.breaktime.org.uk International reputation for work on school breaktimes/recess. Playtime in the Primary School, and Breaktime and the School: Understanding and Changing Playground Behaviour (both Routledge publications); Social Life in School: Pupils' experiences of breaktime from 7 to 16 years (Falmer Press). 'Peer relations' in school often overlooked but can be very important for learning and social development.

Peter Blatchford has been Professor of Psychology and Education at the UCL Institute of Education since 1999. He is also Honorary Professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. His main area of interest is social developmental processes in school settings. He has published 18 books and over 100 peer reviewed papers and book chapters. Research projects he has directed include those on class size differences; the deployment and impact of Teaching Assistants; group work in classrooms; and social life in schools (including peer relations and school breaktimes). Funders include ESRC, Government and Charitable Trusts including Nuffield, Leverhulme, Esmee Fairbairn and Spencer.

 Selected Publications

Blatchford, P., Chan, K.W., Galton, M., Lai, K.C., Lee, J.C.K.(Eds.) (in press) Class size: Eastern and Western perspectives. Book for Asia-Europe Education Dialogue Series. Series Editor Kerry Kennedy, Routledge

Blatchford, P., Pellegrini, A. and Baines, E. (2016) The Child at School: Interactions with Peers and Teachers (2nd Edition). Routledge

Webster, R., Russell, A., and Blatchford, P. (2016) Maximising the impact of teaching assistants: guidance for school leaders and teachers (2nd Edition), Routledge

Webster, R., & Blatchford, P. (in press) Worlds apart? The nature and quality of the educational experiences of pupils with a Statement for special educational needs in mainstream primary schools. British Educational Research Journal

Academic team