Intervention details

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Working Memory Plus

Strong for Primary maths
UK Evaluated in the UK

Intervention description

The Improving Working Memory Plus Arithmetic (WM+) intervention aims to improve the numeracy skills of Year 3 pupils (aged 7-8) by improving their working memory: the ability to remember and manipulate information over short time-frames. The intervention builds on evidence from cognitive science which suggests that numeracy difficulties may be related to poor working memory capacity.

WM+ is delivered by teaching assistants (TAs). TAs work with children to teach them memory strategies; the children practice the use of these strategies through adaptive games played online.

The intervention is delivered in ten one-hour session and lasts for one term. Five of these sessions are focused on working memory, whilst the other five are focused on arithmetic content.


The interventions is delivered by TAs. TAs take the pupils out of class in pairs to deliver the intervention in one hour sessions. Pupils spend 30 minutes working with the TA on a one-to-one basis and 30 minutes working independently playing a series of related online games.


TAs receive one day of training and a handbook with detailed delivery instructions.

Evidence Summary

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) carried out an evaluation of Improving Working Memory Plus which found it had a positive impact on maths attainment. The trial took place between September 2016 and July 2017.

The evaluation also found positive impacts on working memory, and attention and behaviour in class for pupils receiving the interventions compared to children in comparison schools.

The intervention was found to be time intensive, predominantly due to the need for TAs to leave class to deliver sessions, which increased pressure on teachers during lessons and in some cases required schools to provide TA cover.

The study found a mean effect size of +0.24 for primary maths.

Strong for Primary maths
No. of studies 1
No. of students 909
Average effect size +0.24

Key research

Improving Working Memory was found to have a positive impact on primary maths outcomes. The EEF is exploring the possibility of testing the intervention at a larger scale.

Key stages

  • Key Stage 3


£800 per school when delivered in a group of schools. Please contact provider for details.

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