Working Memory: The Importance of Assessment, Identification and Intervention

  • Angela Fewell Northumbria University
  • David Littlefair Northumbria University


Working memory is an important factor in the acquisition of language, literacy and numeracy skills. It is closely linked to learning and achievement. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not staff in schools were able to identify working memory difficulties in their students and how pupils with these difficulties were supported. Qualitative and quantitative data was sought from 35 randomly selected primary schools via a questionnaire. Semi-structured follow-up interviews were carried out with SEN Co-ordinators from 10 of the schools. Results revealed that the schools seldom carried out working memory assessment and staff were generally unaware of the characteristics of a poor working memory. Many of the schools within this study were not familiar with the range of assessment tools or resources available for intervention and support. This has significant implications for the provision of training and development of intervention strategies and resources for schools.