Education Endowment Foundation:The ONE Programme (2022/23 trial)

The ONE Programme (2022/23 trial)

University of Oxford and University of Sheffield
Project info

Independent Evaluator

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A research trial to test the impact of The Orchestrating Numeracy and the Executive (The ONE) Programme, a 12-week intervention consisting of practitioner development and guided play preschool activities to improve children’s numeracy and executive functions. Executive functions are thinking and self-regulation skills that support the control of attention and behaviour. 

Pupils: 2250 Schools: 150 Grant: £995,127
Participating settings: 150

This project was recruiting, and is now full.

The ONE Programme consists of professional development for practitioners to run fun, short, play-based activities designed to support children’s early thinking and numeracy skills. The 25 activities have been co-developed with Early Years practitioners and are delivered with the help of activity cards and some low-cost resources to be used with the activities. The activity cards describe maths activities and highlight how to gradually increase executive function demands within maths learning. The activities last five to ten minutes and can be embedded into preschool routines and overall continuous provision, such as small group activities, outdoor play, and free play.

The programme is delivered in Early Years settings by the practitioners at each setting, following some training sessions by the delivery team. Within each setting, practitioners are asked to engage in a minimum of three activities per week in each setting, for the 12-week duration of the programme. Staff have the flexibility to choose how to implement the activities (big groups, small groups, one-to-one, or a combination) and which children to involve, as long as children in the year preceding the move into Reception are included in these activities (3 – 4‑year-olds).

Staff at the University of Oxford and University of Sheffield will deliver the staff training for the programme. There are four weekly 30-minute face-to-face professional development sessions for the first four weeks of the programme, during which practitioners will be trained in their settings, and will learn about early numeracy, executive functions, as well as their integration in everyday classroom activities. These sessions are scheduled at times and in formats that best suit practitioners at each setting (e.g., one-to-one, or in a group, at the preference of each setting). One representative per setting is also contacted in the eighth and twelfth week to provide support and time for reflection, and to check fidelity of delivery (i.e., how often the play-based activities have been delivered).

The ONE Timeline

Both PVI and maintained settings can participate in this programme. Settings hosting 15 or more children due to enter Reception in September 2024 are eligible. Settings who are uncertain about this number at present, and are likely to have between 10 and 15 pupils entering Reception in September 2024, are welcome to contact us and will be put on a waiting list.

Go to the programme website to find out more.

As part of the Department for Education’s Early Years Recovery Programme, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is working with Stronger Practice Hubs across England to fund Early Years settings’ access to evidence-informed programmes and study the programme’s influence on practice and children’s outcomes. This initiative aims to support education recovery following the pandemic, whilst also developing our understanding of effective professional development in the early years.

The ONE was piloted in England and was recently evaluated in a small-scale study supported by the Nuffield Foundation. Results from that study suggest that children who received the intervention made more progress in numeracy skills and some executive function skills than other children. The study findings also indicate that progress was larger for economically disadvantaged children, that practitioners found that the activities worked well for the children, and that practitioners were able to deliver the expected number of activities each week. This trial will be the first large-scale rigorous evaluation of the programme.

Current evidence suggests that there is an interaction between early maths learning and executive functions. Recent studies suggest that successful mathematical learning requires the integration of maths-specific skills and executive functions to apply those knowledge and skills successfully. This trial will test one such approach that has been co-developed by academics and practitioners.

Researchers at RAND Europe will lead the evaluation. This is an efficacy trial, which means the programme is being tested under the best possible conditions, for example, the programme developer will be involved in training every setting. The trial will take place in around 150 settings, of which half will be randomly assigned to receive the programme starting in either January 2024 or February 2024, and half will be assigned to a waitlist control group who will instead receive the programme in the 2024/2025 academic year. All participating settings will be visited by the assessors and intervention team and will receive the ONE training and programme materials. All settings will also receive compensation for their time and a subsidy for participation.

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2024.

Maintained nurseries and Private, Voluntary and Independent early year years settings in the following Local Authorities can register their interest in taking part in this project: York, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire (including Lincoln), Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Hertfordshire, Luton, Richmond, Hounslow, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Merton, Southwark, Hillingdon, Harrow, Ealing, Barnet, Brent, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster.

Additional settings will get full confirmation in June about whether they can be included in the project. This is for settings in the following Local Authorities: Havering, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Kingston upon Thames, Sutton, Croydon, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley, and Bromley.

Once you have registered your interest, the project team will be in touch to provide further information.

To register your interest, please fill in the form below.