Dr Kristina Konstantoni

Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies


  • PhD in Education (University of Edinburgh)
  • Froebel and Childhood Practice (University of Edinburgh)
  • MSc in Childhood Studies (University of Edinburgh)
  • BA (Hons) in Sociology (University of Crete, Greece)

Responsibilities & affiliations

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Recognition Award 2016 for ‘Excellence in External Engagement'

I am a member of the Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group , a member of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) , a member of RACE.ED and an associate researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR). 

Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group  

Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland

Centre for Research on Families and Relationships

Undergraduate teaching

Previous Programme Director of the BA in Childhood Practice 

I am currently the course organiser and teaching on :

  • Children and Childhoods (Year 2, Undergraduate)

I have course organised and taught on the below courses:

  • Children, Education and Social Justice (Year 3 Undergraduate)
  • Children's Health and Well-Being (Year 3 Undergraduate)
  • Children's Rights (Year 3 Undergraduate)

Postgraduate teaching

I currently course organise:

  • Froebel, Social Justice and the Early Years [ a core course on the MSc in Education (Early Childhood Practice and Froebel pathway)

I have contributed to:  

  • Listening to Children course ( PG which was offered within the MSc in Childhood Studies programme). 
  • Nature of Inquiry (PG)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I would be happy to supervise research under the areas listed in the research tab.

Current PhD students supervised

  • Jane Malcolm- Love, passion and professionalism: The Early Years Professional
  • Carol Smith- Supporting transitions from pre-school into primary 1: issues around play-based and active learning in the transition process
  • Liz Latto- The Politics of Professionalisation: the changing roles of practitioners within Early Learning and Childcare
  • Anastasia Kalokyri-‘ADHD’ students, complex social identities and school experiences in Scottish context: Moving beyond deficit labels
  • Katherine Westwood-Participation in inclusive extracurricular activities constructed by the perspectives of children with disabilities 
  • Serif  Ali Cakiray- Refugee children with disabilities' experiences of barriers and facilitators in Scottish Primary Schools: An intersectional perpsective
  • Gizem Silistire- Exploring young children’s daily experiences in the nursery classroom
  • Sara Abahussain- The Drive Towards Neoliberalism: A Critical Exploration of Saudi Arabia’s Early Childhood Education

Past PhD students supervised

  • Stuart Dunbar- Young People's Perpsectives of Public Engagement with Science: a collaborative, integenerational case study (2020)
  • Krystallia Kyritsi- Creativity in Primary Schools: Investigating Perpsectives on Creativity and Equity within Scottish Primary Education (2018)

Research summary

My main research interests are in:

  •  children’s rights and intersectional inequalities   
  • diversity, equity/fairness/social justice 
  • children and young people’s human rights and participation in research, practice and policy-making
  • intersectionality
  • social justice and participatory methodologies and pedagogies
  • play 
  • partnerships between research, policy and practice
  • methodologies of research with children and young people
  • ethical issues in research with children and young people
  • children’s human rights in informal learning public play spaces like community and business play-cafés

I would be happy to supervise research under the above headings.


Project activity

  • Froebel Trust Hub and Spoke’ (2021-2024) (£450.000) Dr Konstantoni, K. (Co-I, with lead role in international research training in Greece and outreach and community engagement through the 'mobile hub' ) Funded by the Froebel Trust (PI Dr Lynn McNair). This international project sparks a long-term, national and international learning journey - spearheaded by early learning and childcare educators/practitioners-as researchers and change-makers – to mainstream participatory and child-centred policies and practices, both locally and globally. This international project focuses on Scotland, Greece and the Czech Republic. Kristina will be leading international research training in Greece with practitioners and co-lead with community partners (practitioners, children, families and policy-makers) outreach and public engagement (including with the third sector and a Mobile Hub). Kristina also will co-lead on research and evaluation and co-author a comparative study of international Froebelian practice.
  • ‘Safe, Inclusive Participative Pedagogy: Improving Early Childhood Education in Fragile Contexts’ (2020-2024), (£1.8 million), Dr Konstantoni, K. (Co-I with lead role in knowledge exchange strategy and implementation across international partners) Funded by the UK Research and Innovation-Global Challenge Research Fund (PI Prof Kay Tisdall) with partners from Brazil, Eswatini, South Africa, Palestine, an international research project which aims to identify and develop safe, inclusive participative pedagogy that is implementable in fragile contexts and sustainable for governments, communities and families. The project is undertaken with partners in Brazil, Eswatini, Palestine, South Africa, and Scotland using a mixed-method approach. This includes: qualitative community case studies in each country; policy and systems analysis at country and community levels; and developing the economic case for safe inclusive pedagogy. Community engagement and participation underpin the project, where children and their families play an integral role and there is a strong focus on knowledge exchange and collaborative learning. Project website here
  • The play-café project: What would Froebelian play cafés look like?(2021-2023) (£43,306.32)  Konstantoni, K.  (PI),  McNair, L. (Co-I),  Kustatscher, M. (Co-I) and The Network for Children’s Rights (NGO, Greece). Funded by the The Froebel Trust.

A project exploring the potential of Froebelian principles in new environments, like play cafés, to provide opportunities for high quality learning and education in informal settings.This project builds on the work of two successfully funded projects: (1) that explored young children’s everyday lives and the realisation of their rights in times of crisis in Greece and (2) that explored family and staff experiences of play cafés in Scotland and Germany. This project responds to priorities identified by children (0-8) and their families linked to: a) inequalities that children faced accessing and playing in public spaces, like community and business cafes, and b) the lack of high-quality play spaces for children and social spaces for families in informal public learning environments. Building on the second project, which mainly focused on parent and staff perspectives, this project will focus on young children’s experiences and perspectives of play café spaces and will include a larger number of diverse families and staff.  The project will also include the perspectives of children and families that may also face barriers in accessing public play spaces. This international project (Scotland and Greece) will investigate in more depth the current opportunities that children have to play in community and business play spaces and children’s families’, practitioners’ and staff experiences of these play spaces and their underlying principles and philosophies.The project is interested in exploring the potential of Froebelian principles for new environments like play cafés and provide opportunities for high quality learning and education in informal settings. It will work with children, families and practitioners to co-design what Froebelian play cafés may look like in two contexts: Scotland and Greece, in order to respond to the diverse needs of each country and to support children’s play expressively and creatively. This project addresses a significant gap in our understanding of children’s experiences of emerging play spaces in informal learning environments beyond the early learning and childcare institution.

  • We Play Festival [The Play-Café Festival: Pop up play-cafés as radical public spaces for community engagement, learning, research and impact] A Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant (2021) (£5000) Konstantoni, K. (PI) and Bateson, S. (Co-PI)   Funded by College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Edinburgh

    A College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant has been awarded to Kristina Konstantoni and Simon Bateson for: “The Play-Café Festival: Pop up play-cafés as radical public spaces for community engagement, learning, research and impact" .This project aims to prototype a radical new public space which will inclusively combine play, seminars, workshops and community development through a week long pop-up play café festival. The work builds on previously funded research projects linked to young children’s rights and play café spaces in Greece, Scotland and Germany, and a previous one day pop-up play café (Fire Starter Festival). Interfacing research findings, knowledge exchange and community engagement the project will co-produce a new multimodal resource to provoke and develop new ideas and audiences, linked long-term to the establishment of a multi-partnership research-policy-practice early years centre.

  • How can business and public play spaces and cafes be reimagined and reclaimed as socially just rights-reinforcing spaces for children? (The Play-Café project) (2019) (£5000) Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI), Prof Kay Tisdall (Co-I),  Dr Lynn McNair(Co-I), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-I), Luke Addison (Co-I), Kurt Cleary (Photographer), Simon Bateson (Research Assistant). Funded by Edinburgh Futures Institute Research Awards. A participatory ethnographic research project which reimagines community and business play café spaces as spaces that reinforce social justice and children’s rights, by engaging very young children and their families (around 30), play café business and community staff and practitioners (around 11 in a process of collaborative design. The project adopts an interdisciplinary approach which combines ideas from education, childhood studies and business

  • 'A pop up play café ' (2019) Dr Konstantoni, K. (PI) a community engagement and research event as part of the Fire Starter Festival https://firestarterfestival.com Funded by the Institute for Continuous Improvement, Partners included: Cowgate Under Fives, Riverside Cottage Nursery, Let Me Eat and Community Playthings. Please find video here: https://vimeo.com/326591656 This was a community engagement event which also included research to explore children and families’ experiences and perspectives about play cafes. A growing number of community and business play spaces seek to provide ‘child-friendly’ spaces. To what extent are these adult designed spaces relevant for young children and their families, and constitute environments that promote children’s rights and high quality education and learning?

  • Re-Imagining the Civic University: Towards an Interactive Research-Policy-Practice Centre for the Early years (2018-2019)  (£3000) Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI), Dr Lynn McNair, Dr Kustatscher Marlies and Luke Addison (Co-Is).Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council Business Booster Funding, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. A series of  retreat days, community engagement events and meetings with Scottish Government, Social enterprise business and third-sector stakeholders, practitioners, academics, community engagement professionals, activists, architects, children and families, to initiate the preparation work for re-imagining a civic early childhood research, policy, practice centre. This work involved coordinating a multidisciplinary team (senior academic staff, high profile government officials, early career researchers, practitioners, artists, third sector representatives, children) to enable strategic meetings, which led to collaborative visioning, the production of  vision papers, a centre overview chart and a pop-up play-cafe community engagement event. 

  • Young Children’s Rights in Humanitarian Crises. (2017) £1482.8  Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI) with project partners Network for Children's Rights (NGO) in Greece. SeedCorn Funding, University of Edinburgh

A participatory action research project with very young children (0-5) supported by the Network for Children’s Rights (NGO) in Greece. The project  explored the effects that ‘double’ humanitarian crises have on the rights of young children (0-5) with a view to reinforcing rights protection in European early childhood policies and practices. The project focused on:

-understanding the barriers to/opportunities for the implementation of young children’s rights and interacting childhood inequalities during humanitarian crises in theory, policy and practice

-a critical awareness, through participatory processes, of the most appropriate methodological tools to understand the implementation of young children’s rights during humanitarian crises

  • 'Creating transformative partnerships: Making spaces for tackling childhood and youth inequalities' (2015-16)

A participatory action research project with young people supported by Investing in Children.

Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (£7,500) and a University of Edinburgh CHSS Challenge Investment Fund (£13,785).

Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Co-PI), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI) and Co-Is and academic advisors Dr Akwugo Emejulu, Prof John Davis, and Liam Cairns.

This interdisciplinary research project has been initiated by a group of ten young people (aged 10-18) and involves them as co-researchers in a small-scale participatory action research. The research seeks to examine a) young peoples’ views and experiences of intersectional discrimination in their schools and local communities and ways of tackling discriminatory practices, and b) the processes by which meaningful and transformative partnerships (between interdisciplinary researchers, young people, organisations and practitioners) can be established with the aim to effect change in the young people’s lives.

The project is located against the backdrop of an increased emphasis on questions of research impact and social change, and on children and young people’s participation in research, policy and practice, driven by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989). Participation is complex and the challenge is to ensure that it is meaningful, comprehensive and not tokenistic, and involves young people at all stages of a research project (from research design to analysis and dissemination). The project is particularly timely due to the multiple and intersecting experiences of discrimination that young people face in the current social and political climate of austerity, growing inequalities and rising anti-immigration sentiments.


  • What next for Childhood Studies? Pushing Boundaries’ (2015)  

£1,000 British Sociological Association Early Career Forumfor hosting a BSA regional one-day event.

 Konstantoni, K. (Co-PI) and Kustatscher, M. (Co-PI)

· How can childhood researchers make critical connections and contributions across disciplinary and spatial boundaries?

· How do debates in childhood research and current geo-political, economic and socio-cultural contexts mutually shape each other?

· How can childhood studies commit to an emancipatory and activist agenda?


· What is needed to push theoretical and methodological boundaries?

 This one-day seminar seeks to raise and debate questions about how the sociology of childhood can push its spatial and disciplinary boundaries in order to make important critical theoretical and methodological contributions not only within the childhood studies field but also beyond, for example to the wider discipline of sociology, feminist studies, geo-politics, education, economics, health and others.

  • Research Commissioned by Scottish Social Services Council to Review the Standard for Childhood practice (2014-2015)

    £27,000, Scottish Social Services Council

  Bill Thomson (Principal Investigator), Dr Kristina Konstantoni(Co-Investigator), University of Edinburgh and Dr Mary Wingrave (Co-Investigator), University of Glasgow.

A research study commissioned by the SSSC to review and update the Standard for Childhood Practice (QAA, 2007). The Standard for Childhood Practice is a benchmark statement published by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

  • Children's Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in research, policy and practice (2013-2015)

    £20,000, Scottish Universities Insight Institute

    Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Principal Investigator)- on behalf of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland- with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh: Dr Akwugo Emejulu, Prof John Davis, and Marlies Kustatcher ( School of Health in Social Science), the University of Strathclyde, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

     This seminar series brings together academics, practitioners, policy makers and children from Scotland and beyond to debate children’s and young people’s complex and intersecting identities and consider the ways in which multiple social inequalities impact on children’s and parents’ lives.

    Further details about the forthcoming seminars can be found here

Please click here for a Briefing Summary 

Please click here for video podcasts of the seminar series

Seminar 1

Seminar 2

Seminar 3

Seminar 4

  • Muslim Pupils’ Educational Experiences in England and Scotland (MPEEES) (Research Associate, 2012-2013)
  • Attracting International Students:Equitable Services & Support, Campus Cohesion and Community Engagement - funded by the Equality Challenge Unit. [with Dr Rowena Arshad (University of Edinburgh), Dr Philomena de Lima (University of Highlands and Islands), Johanna Holtan (Edinburgh University Student Association) and Nikolaos Bizas (University of Edinburgh)]. Report published May 2012 http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/attracting-international-students  (Research Associate, 2011-2012)
  • CREANOVA (Creative Learning and Networking for European Innovation) Project (funded by European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP)) University of Edinburgh (with Dr John Davis, Stephen Farrier, Nikolaos Bizas from University of Edinburgh and other partners from European Countries) (Research Assistant, 2010)
  • Continuation of National Occupational  Standards Project: Developing Virtual Environments for Childhood Practice. A Scoping Research Project into NOS (National Occupational Standards) in Child Care & Early Years (commissioned by the Scottish Social Services Council Commission), University of Edinburgh (with Dr John Davis, University of Edinburgh) (Research Fellow, 2010)
  • [funded by the ESRC, PTA-031-2006-00428]

    ‘Young Children’s Perceptions and Constructions of Social Identities and Social Implications: Promoting Social Justice in Early Childhood.’  [funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC+3 Quota Nomination Studentship for Doctoral Study), PTA-031-2006-00428] (2006-2009)

View all 15 publications on Research Explorer