Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)

Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)

Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)

Elklan is a key partner in NELI in this important programme, which has been shown to significantly enhance children’s speech and language development.

NELI was developed by Dr Maggie Snowling and Chris Hulme at the University of Oxford, who identified the need to help reception class children who were struggling with their communication.

The 20-week programme is delivered in schools by trained teaching assistants (TAs) – targeting vocabulary, narrative skills, active listening and phonological awareness.

Elklan has been involved with NELI since 2016, when we were asked to help with the training of the TAs. We re-wrote the training materials and designed a training and support programme which we now provide nationwide.

Find out more about our training.

Elklan has also supported robust evaluation of NELI, with our tutors going into schools to collect the data to assess the programme’s impact.

The impact

NELI was assessed in a comprehensive research project by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation, which lasted for more than a year.

The study involved analysis of children’s progress, staff surveys and interviews, and assessment of the training and resource use.

It covered 193 schools from Cornwall to Tyneside (97 received the programme, while 96 did not) and 1,156 pupils. Children selected were the five in each classroom who obtained the lowest oral language scores.

The final report was published in May 2020. Key findings were:

Following these findings, the EEF is exploring how NELI can be provided to more schools across the country.

More on the research:

Early language screening and intervention can be delivered successfully at scale: evidence from a cluster randomized controlled trial West, G., Snowling M.J., Lervag A., Buchanan-Worster, E., Duta M., Hall, A., McLachlan, H. and Hulme, C. (2021), Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

NELI has a positive and statistically significant effect on pupils’ language skills.
Some teachers and TAs[...] observed improvements in the vocabulary of the children and in narrative and storytelling skills
Many teachers and TAs also observed an improvement in children’s confidence to communicate
Extracts from the research report