Stage of Research: Translate Team Members: 4
Cognition Working Memory

Working Memory and Learning in the Classroom

Working memory is where we hold onto and process information in the short-term to support the task-at-hand, and can be thought of as our mental notepad. Working memory ability underpins successful learning and is strongly associated with educational attainment across primary and secondary school. Working memory theory also underpins Cognitive Load Theory, where learning is supported and enhanced when the demands made on working memory are optimised.

About 1 in 20 children are likely to suffer from poor working memory. However, there are very few resources for teachers on this topic, and working memory difficulties are less well known and less well understood within the education sector than other similar learning difficulties. This means that children with poor working memory are often not receiving the support they need to achieve their full potential.

We ran a UK-based survey with over 1400 teachers and other educational professionals to investigate their understanding of working memory, and their experience of teaching children with working memory difficulties. Based on these data, and in co-production with teachers and educational psychologists, we have created a set of evidence-based, free-to-use materials for teachers and support staff working in schools.

These materials provide key information about what working memory is, as well as clear, evidence-based suggestions on how to identify and support children with poor working memory in the classroom. This will help schools target support where children need it the most, and will increase the chances that children will achieve their learning potential.

Read more about working memory here.

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Fundamental Research

Core Science

Fundamental Research

Discovery and Design


Trials and Assessment

Co-design and test in ~ 10 schools


Large Randomised Controlled Trial


Regional Rollout


Evidence-based Policy

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