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How does attention matter to developing numeracy? Can a combined executive and early numeracy intervention help children build stronger foundations for later maths?

Orchestrating Numeracy and the Executive: The ONE

Access the main website for the ONE programme here


The ONE Programme              


TheONE4The ONE ("Orchestrating Numeracy and the Executive") Programme is an early years programme which aims to improve the early foundations of numeracy and executive functions through a combination of professional development sessions for educators and activities to be played with the children.

The programme was co-developed by a team of researchers in education and child development with help from insightful practitioners at early years settings in the Oxford area, funded by the Nuffield Foundation (learn more here). We are now assessing whether the ONE works at scale, with collaborators for the University of Sheffield, RAND Europe and Qa Research, supported by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Stronger Practice Hubs.



The ONE project aims to improve early foundations of numeracy by

a) Working in partnership with educators

b) Understanding informal activities in the classroom

c) Measuring growth in numeracy and executive functions

We hope to learn more about what helps young children learn.





The ONE programme involves face-to-face training for educators, a pack of 25


activity cards, and resources to be used with the activities.


The cards describe play-based maths activities and highlight how to gradually increase executive function demands within maths learning.


Each setting is asked to engage in a minimum of three activities per week for the 12-week duration of the programme. During the first four weeks of the 


programme, staff will also be asked to attend weekly 30-minute face-to-face professional development sessions.


The sessions introduce the activity cards and they support educators’ understanding of how early maths and executive functions co-develop.



(images by Elena Grossi, 2021)


Who are we?

Delivery Team

The programme will be delivered by teams from the University of Oxford and the University of Sheffield. The lead investigators are Gaia Scerif (Oxford) and Emma Blakey (Sheffield). At Oxford, the team is made up of Rosie O'Connor and Caroline Korell. At Sheffield, the team is made up of Toni Loveridge and Carmel Brough. 

The delivery team are responsible for recruiting settings into the programme, delivering professional development training with staff and maintaining contact with staff at the settings during the length of the programme. 

funding and programme support


As part of the Department for Education’s Early Years Recovery Programme, Stronger Practice Hubs and the Education Endowment Foundation are working together to fund Early Years settings’ access to evidence-informed programmes and study the programme’s influence on practice and children’s outcomes. The ONE programme is being funded as part of this programme. 

Evaluation team


RAND Europe are working to evaluate the efficacy of the programme, supported by a data collection team at Qa Research. The evaluation team will be responsible for collecting data from children at the early years settings involved in the project to find out whether the intervention works on a large scale to improve children's early maths and executive function skills. 

Programme design

The programme was co-developed with insightful practitioners at early settings across Oxfordshire, as well as a worldwide research team including: Gaia Scerif (University of Oxford), Rosie O'Connor (University of Oxford), Sylvia Gattas (University of Oxford), Rebecca Merkley (Carleton University), Steven Howard (University of Wollongong, Australia), Zach Hawes (OISE, Toronto), Vic Simms (Ulster), Kathy Sylva and Ted Melhuish (Oxford), Emma Blakey (Sheffield). The first study assessing acceptability and feasibility of The ONE was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 

what is the evidence that the programme works?                  

Results from our feasibility study suggest that: children who received the intervention made more progress in numeracy skills and some executive function skills than other children; that progress was larger for economically disadvantaged children; that practitioners found that the activities worked well for the children; that most practitioners enjoyed the training; and, that they were able to deliver the expected number of activities each week.

You can find out more about our feasibility trial here

Interested in getting involved?

We are looking for early years settings to take part in the next stage of our research, starting in autumn term 2023. 

If you are involved in an early years setting or a chain of settings and would like to find out more about taking part in the ONE programme, please enter your details below or follow this link.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the programme, please get in contact with us at