Chris Heemskerk

I am carrying out my DPhil research at the Department of Education, Oxford.

My research investigates physical education lessons and classroom concentration at Key Stage 2.

The study aims to modify the specific content of Physical Education lessons, to see if this influences children’s ability to concentrate in subsequent lessons. The intensive longitudinal data collected is analysed using multi-level models. The results will help to change teachers’ and school leaders’ perceptions of Physical Education, and inform timetabling and curriculum mapping in primary schools.

Prior to studying at the Oxford University Department of Education, I completed a BEd in Physical Education at the College of St. Mark and St. John in Plymouth. After graduating in 2007, I worked as a PE teacher and Head of Rowing in secondary and cross-phase schools in Berkshire until 2014. I completed the MSc Child Development and Education at Oxford University in 2015, conducting exploratory research into Physical Education at Key Stage 2 for my dissertation. Between completing my MSc and starting my DPhil research, I spent 1 year working as a PE and PPA teacher in primary schools in Oxfordshire, teaching reception through to year 6.


Thesis title
Maximising the benefits of Physical Education in the KS 2 classroom.

Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Professor Steve Strand

Research interests

  • Physical Education
  • Exercise and cognition
  • Concentration and executive functioning


  • Research student

College affiliation

  • Green Templeton College

Research groups

  • Quantitative Methods Hub