Alexandra Hennessey

Alexandra Hennessey


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I looking to take PhD students interested in social and cognitive development in children, as well as school-based projects exploring social and emotional wellbeing in students and teachers.

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Personal profile


I am Programme Director on the Masters Psychology of Education programme in the Manchester Institute of Education at The University of Manchester.

My research spans the development and application of social cognition in children and young people. My particular interests include: school-based social and emotional wellbeing; the impact these areas have on education and achievement; the role they play in supporting children in school; as well as how we can facilitate and support the development of these in education settings. I have led and contributed to numerous large-scale  quasi-experimental intervention trials and school-based evaluations, using mixed-methods approaches to assess the impact of education initiatives on academic outcomes and pupil social and emotional wellbeing, including those funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, DfE, the National Institute for Health and Care Research, Education Endowment Foundation, and the Youth Sport Trust.


I am programme Director for the Master's in Psychology of Education . The degree is externally accredited by the British Psychology Society to confer Graduate Basis of Chartered Membership (GBC). 

I am unit lead for:

  • EDUC60771 - Research Principles and Practice
  • EDUC60772 - Research Analysis and Evaulation
  • EDUC60742 - Cogntion and Education

Research interests

My main research area is developmental and educational psychology, and in particular the development of social, emotional and cognitive skills, such as theory of mind, emotional intelligence, loneliness and executive functioning, and how they impact on education and academic achievement and student wellbeing.

I am part of the Education and Psychology research group at Manchester Institute of Education.

Further information

Research projects:

Understanding Growth Areas: Access and engagement in sport and physical activity in children and young people. Youth Sport Trust, 2023-2024.

Playful learning and adoption of XR – a focus on psychology of education and possibilities for teaching. SEED New Horizons Research & Scholarship Fund, 2022-2023.

Designing and developing school profiles to support communication and dissemination of the Well Schools approach. SEED Impact funding, 2022-2023.

A UK evaluation of the Well Schools whole-school approach for supporting teacher and pupil wellbeing. Youth Sport Trust, 2021-2023.

Evidence on the relationship between socio-economic disadvantage and the attainment gap in the English education system. EEF, 2021-2022.

Dissemination of children and young people’s views on supporting social, emotional and mental wellbeing in primary and secondary education. SEED Impact funding ,2021-2022.

Recruit and facilitate focus groups to inform the development of NICE guidance on social, emotional and mental wellbeing in primary and secondary education. NICE, 2020-2021.

A randomised controlled trial of the Nextdoor Kind Challenge: Evaluation of Nextdoor Campaign. Nexdoor,2020-2021.

Universal school-based prevention: examining the impact of the Good Behaviour Game (GBG) on educational and health-related outcomes for children. Funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), 2014-2019.

Evaluating the efficacy of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum in promoting social and emotional wellbeing among children in primary school: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), 2012 to 2017.

A scoping review of the access to secondary school counselling. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), 2012-2013.

Evaluation of Achievement for All: Improving outcomes for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. DfE, 2009-2012.

Supervision information

Joanne Tabener - The Relationship Between Personality and Mental Toughness Among Early Career Teachers. 2021- present, second supervisor with Dr Sarah MacQuarrie

Jia Song - Effect of Working Memory Training on Children’s Literacy Skills: A mixed methods study. 2021- present, second supervisor with Dr Sarah MacQuarrie

Aysenur Gucbilmez - The impact of the primary to secondary school transition on self-identity: A case study investigation into the experiences of students with and without dyslexia. 2018-2023, present, second supervisor with Prof Garry Squires

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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