No, this DfE-funded programme is for reception age pupils only. NELI is designed for delivery during the reception year and this is the age group the programme has been evaluated with. The DfE have separately announced £10 million to support language development for pre-reception children in the next academic year. A version of NELI for nursery pupils (which has some key differences) is currently being developed and evaluated by Nuffield Foundation and isn’t available yet. Some aspects of NELI Reception may be appropriate and supportive for older pupils but this hasn’t be trialled and its impact is therefore unknown.
How does NELI compare or fit alongside other language interventions?
There are several oral language interventions and training programmes available for schools to purchase, however, currently NELI is England’s most well evidenced programme for supporting language development. If a school is considering adopting a new language programme we would encourage schools to implement NELI as the unparalleled level of evidence (see info here) gives us confidence that it is likely to work for your schools and pupils.
NELI is an intensive programme and is designed for pupils needing a large amount of targeted support with their oral language skills. Other less intensive targeted programmes may be more useful for pupils who are only just behind age-expected norms. However, implementing several programmes at once can be complex, especially when being delivered for the first time. Careful consideration needs to be given to ensure programmes can be implemented well to ensure they provide the expected positive impact. Any deviation for the recommended delivery model may reduce the impact of the programme on pupil outcomes.
We would strongly recommend completing or continuing with language programmes that are offered as part of whole class activities and training programmes that support school staff with their interactions with pupils. These programmes will complement NELI delivery.
You may also find it useful to review the response to the query ‘the children identified to receive NELI are already receiving SaLT support/intervention – can they do both? Which you can find in the ‘identifying pupils to receive NELI’ section of this FAQ page.
Isn’t it children across the whole of the Early Years Foundation Stage (0-5yrs) that need language input? Shouldn’t money go there?
On 2 June, the Government announced a further £153 million of funding for training for early years staff to support the very youngest children’s learning and development. Training programmes, and targeted additional whole setting support, will focus on key skills such as children’s speech & language, and physical & emotional development.
This is in addition to £27 million announced to support children’s early language development in response to the pandemic. £17 million is to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) in schools over the two academic years 2020/22 – 40% of primary schools have already signed up to receive the programme in 2020/21. £10 million will support language development for pre-reception children in the next academic year.
Could this be used with Year 1 pupils in the autumn term who have not achieved GLD in the relevant areas?
The DfE funded NELI programme is intended for reception age pupils only. NELI has been designed for delivery during the reception year and this is the age group the programme has been evaluated with. While some aspects of NELI may be appropriate for older pupils this hasn’t be trialled and its impact is therefore unknown. Before any pupils receive the programme, we first recommend assessing pupils language skills using the tool LanguageScreen. If the screener highlights Year 1 pupils whose language skills are not in line with age-related norms they may benefit from some aspects of the NELI programme.
Is there any evaluation of NELI as a virtual intervention?
The online training programme was developed last summer to facilitate the roll out of the programme to schools across England. This minimised geographical/travel barriers as well as enabled access to the programme in a socially distanced manner. The main thrust of the programme is still 20 weeks of face-to-face delivery between school staff and groups of NELI pupils. The Education Endowment Foundation is hoping to evaluate the impact of the NELI programme during the 2021/22 academic year to see if/how the online training model impacts children’s language outcomes.
When will the nursery language enrichment programme be available?
Oxford University have developed a version of NELI for 3-4 year old nursery children. It has many key differences to the NELI programme designed for Reception pupils. The nursery programme was being evaluated with its first randomised controlled trial during the academic year 2019/20 but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to covid-19 pandemic. The evaluation is being restarted in the 2021/22 academic year.
Is LanguageScreen for use with PVI/Nursery or is it aimed specifically at Reception?
LanguageScreen is suitable for children aged 3.5 – 8 years. Therefore it can be used with some preschool-aged children as well as those in lower primary school.
Where/ how is LanguageScreen available?
Participating schools will be given access to LanguageScreen to assess all Reception pupils before starting the programme, this will help schools to decide which pupils should receive the NELI intervention. Schools receive 200 Language screen ‘tokens’ which is sufficient to assess all Reception pupils at the beginning and end of the 20-week programme if schools wish. The LanguageScreen tokens will remain valid for use for two academic years from the date schools first register on Language Screen. Assessing pupils at the end of the programme will enable schools to understand the impact of the programme on NELI pupils and support them in planning provision for when the children move into Year 1. For more information on LanguageScreen go to: languagescreen.com or for technical enquires about LanguageScreen, support is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there the option to deliver the screening tool without using the tablet for children who rely on lip reading and live voice?
If a child requires lip reading and live voice to access the assessment, the member of staff who delivers the screener could repeat the questions after the questions are played by the tablet or place the tablet on mute and read out the questions instead.
With the intensity of the programme, can it sit alongside phonics intervention programmes which some schools may already have in place?
NELI is designed to complement, not replace any other whole class language or literacy programmes, including phonics programmes. The elements of NELI that relate to phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge are only covered for around 3 minutes in the latter 10 weeks of the programme. NELI is predominately a language intervention and therefore we do not recommend it replacing any phonics teaching or phonics interventions.
Where can we find the training?
Schools will first need to register to receive NELI at teachneli.org. The registration process involves nominating staff to receive training and they will be sent a link to enrol to access the online training on the platform FutureLearn. This registration email will come from email@example.com. Please ensure that all school staff nominated for training add this email address to their ‘safe senders’ to ensure it is not blocked by spam filters and to check junk folders if necessary. The subject line of the invitation is “The Department of Education, University of Oxford has invited you to join an online course on FutureLearn”.
We’ve recently set up an approach for colleagues working across schools at local authority level, such as early years consultants or speech and language therapists, to access the training on FutureLearn to support with implementation of the programme. Please click here to request training. Places are limited so please consider carefully who in your area may be best to take part.
Is there any impact on the wider class due to the TA regularly delivering the small group and 1:1 sessions?
The independent evaluator of the Education Endowment Foundation’s effectiveness trial of NELI has completed some secondary analysis (due to be published soon) that shows there were no negative spill over effects of NELI delivery on the other pupils in the class. In other words, the reduced TA time for the whole class, because of NELI delivery, did not impact non-NELI pupils’ outcomes.
Are we able to see the questions that the children are asked within the language screen please?
A video on the LanguageScreen website gives an overview of the screener, including some of the questions that are asked.
Colleagues working across a local area to support school improvement, such as early years leads at local authorities or speech and language therapy teams, are welcome to request access to the NELI training programme here. There are sections of the training that cover LanguageScreen and this is where you could ask for further detail on the screening questions.
How does LanguageScreen recognise children for whom English is not their first language?
The screener itself does not pick up whether a child is learning English as an additional language. Schools provide some pupil level data when they register which includes highlighting which pupils speak English as an additional language.
We know a higher proportion of children in deprived areas enter school with speech, language and communication needs. Is there a system that allows these schools to offer NELI to more than one group of children in each class?
Schools are encouraged to complete the LanguageScreen assessment with all their Reception pupils. The report from LanguageScreen provides the age-related scores for each pupil and interprets the score in both words and a traffic light system. Some Reception classes may indeed have more than 6 pupils flagged as amber or red by the screener, suggesting their language skills were assessed to be below age-related norms and they would benefit from support to develop their language. We’d encourage these schools to run as many NELI groups as they can to provide the language intervention the children require.
How do you select which children to target intervention to, or is it a whole class intervention process?
An initial assessment of pupil’s oral language skills is recommended ahead of delivering the intervention, to enable children who could benefit most from the programme to be identified. LanguageScreen, a short tablet-based standardised assessment is provided to schools new to NELI as part of the DfE funded offer. It takes 10 minutes per child to complete and involves 4 activities (more information on LanguageScreen here). We suggest that the short assessment is undertaken with all children in Reception by school staff. A report detailing children’s language scores can be downloaded and then used, alongside professional judgement, to identify which children are in greatest need of targeted language support. The programme is not a whole-class initiative and so completing a robust assessment of children’s language skills can help ensure the children who would benefit the most from the intervention are included in NELI groups.
If schools register by July will the capacity to provide materials be ok?
Yes, all schools who register for the NELI programme by the end of July 2021 will receive the number of NELI kits they requested in November 2021.
If a school has registered for NELI this year and want to continue next year do they need to re-register?
No, schools who registered to receive NELI in the academic year 2020/21 do not explicitly need to re-register to continue using NELI. These schools should already have the physical NELI materials they need to deliver the programme and should have members of staff trained to deliver the programme.
We understand that there may be new members of staff in Reception that need to access training to support in the delivery of the programme or deliver NELI to pupils. For next academic year we are offering schools access to training for new staff free of charge. Schools can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request training.
If a school requires additional NELI physical materials these can be purchased from Oxford University Press. If a school has used all their provision of LangauageScreen ‘tokens’ these can be purchased from LanguageScreen.
For the next academic year is it just Maintained schools who can register?
We are inviting all state-funded schools with a reception class to register their interest in delivering NELI in academic year 2021 to 2022, including:
primary and all-through local authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools
local authority-maintained special schools
special academies and free schools
special schools not maintained by a local authority
pupil referral units
alternative provision (AP) academies and free schools
local authority-maintained hospital schools and academies
independent special schools who have reception pupils with government funded placed.
How many schools in England do you expect to reach with this year's £8m investment?
The focus of the investment from the DfE over the two academic years 2020/22 is to meet all remaining demand in the sector. For 2021/22 we have funding capacity for NELI to reach approximately 6000 further schools. However, if all the places are not filled by the end of the recruitment period we can look to utilise the funding in other ways to support delivery and implementation of NELI e.g. make training for new staff in NELI 2020/21 schools available free of charge.
Has the new "first come, first served" sign up for the new year been publicised to schools or is this something you would like LAs to publicise?
Please highlight to schools in your area that registration is self-service and first come first served until, either the programme is full, or we reach the recruitment deadline This information is included in our communication with schools and on our website.
Is it possible for Nursery settings (no reception children) to sign up but just for the early language training (minus course delivery parts)?
The online training is set up as 3 linked courses and a delivery support hub, unfortunately it isn’t possible at the moment to sign up to receive just one element of the training. The DfE-funded programme is for staff teaching reception age pupils as NELI is designed for delivery during the reception year and this is the age group the programme has been evaluated with. A version of NELI for nursery pupils (which has some key differences) is currently being developed and evaluated by Nuffield Foundation and so isn’t available yet.
Is there any funding available for schools and settings to support pre-reception language interventions?
On 2 June, the Government announced a further £153 million of funding for training for early years staff to support the very youngest children’s learning and development. Training programmes, and targeted additional whole setting support, will focus on key skills such as children’s speech & language, and physical & emotional development. There will be further announcements from the DfE on these programmes in due course.
This is in addition to £27 million announced to support children’s early language development in response to the pandemic. £17 million is to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) in schools over the two academic years 2020/22. £10 million will support language development for pre-reception children in the next academic year. There will be further announcements from the DfE on this in due course.
Can a school sign up to the DfE funded sessions even if they have a TA already trained (self-funded by the school)?
Yes, all state funded schools with Reception pupils can register to receive NELI in academic year 2021/22 if they did not register to receive the programme in 2020/21.
Only 5 children have been chosen from reception in one of my schools. Is that typical?
An initial assessment of pupil’s oral language skills is recommended ahead of delivering the intervention, to enable children who could benefit most from the programme to be identified. LanguageScreen, a short tablet-based standardised assessment is provided to schools new to NELI as part of the DfE funded offer. It takes 10 minutes per child to complete and involves 4 activities (more information on LanguageScreen here). We suggest that the short assessment is undertaken with all children in Reception by school staff. A report detailing children’s language scores can be downloaded and then used, alongside professional judgement, to identify which children are in greatest need of targeted language support.
Some Reception classes may indeed have more than 5 pupils flagged as amber or red by the screener, suggesting their language skills were assessed to be below age-related norms and they would benefit from support to develop their language. We’d encourage these schools to run as many NELI groups as they can to provide the language intervention the children require. At the same time, we understand that there may not be sufficient staff time available to deliver more than one NELI group per class, and therefore selection of pupils for the intervention needs to be considered carefully.
As TA time with the class is reduced because they spend more time with the NELI pupils, does this have an impact on the rest of the pupils in the class? Could we have further details with regard as to how this research around impact on the rest of the class has been undertaken?
As part of the latest research trial of NELI the EEF independent evaluator RAND planned to complete some secondary analysis of the data to explore any spill over effects of the NELI programme on pupils who were in NELI classrooms but didn’t receive the programme. This analysis will be published in the addendum report but we can share that no negative or positive spill over effects were found. In other words, the class TA’s delivery of the NELI programme to targeted pupils did not have a detrimental impact on the language outcomes of the other pupils in the class nor did it have a beneficial impact. In the latest evaluation of NELI the 5 children with the lowest LanguageScreen scores were provided the programme. The spill over analysis involved comparing the LangaugeScreen scores of the children who ranked 6th-10th in the class in intervention schools and control schools. Their language outcomes were not significantly different, therefore showing no impact of the programme on children who did not receive NELI.
What is the cost of the screener and the programme?
Schools that register to receive the NELI programme through teachneli.org will have the online training, physical resources and 200 tokens for LanguageScreen assessments (which are valid for two academic years), provided free of charge through funding by the DfE.
Ordinarily, one pack of NELI physical materials costs £395 (purchasable from Oxford University Press) and a school license for LanguageScreen providing 100 tests costs £200. The online training model has not been offered outside of the DfE funded programme yet, but training can be purchased from Elklan.
Can NELI be conducted with a whole class of 5/6 reception pupils who have SEND if they all meet the criteria?
We would encourage school leaders and teachers to consider carefully whether they feel the NELI programme is the best approach to meet their reception pupils’ needs. The programme focuses on a broad range of oral language skills, it is not a programme that should replace specialist language provision or programmes provided by a Speech and Language Therapist, but it may be useful to supplement such provision. There currently have not been any evaluations of NELI programme in a special school context, so the impact of the programme and knowledge about good implementation is unknown.
Teachers, in conversation with other professionals working with the children, should consider carefully if the programme would offer benefits beyond their existing provision and balance the cost/benefit of providing them with an additional intervention that will impact the time spend on their current support.
Is it possible for colleagues working across schools at local authority level to have access to the training?
Yes, we are pleased to offer colleagues working to support school improvement across a local area, access to the NELI training programme free of charge. Colleagues, such as early year consultants for a local authority or speech and language therapists working with schools can register to receive the programme here.
Where can I get the list of signed-up schools for my LA?
The list of registered schools for 2021/22 will be published after registration has closed.
Are ELKLAN involved in delivering NELI training for the roll out?
Yes, Elklan have been involved in developing some of the video content included in the online training, quality assuring the training content and some Elklan trainers are NELI mentors on the online training. NELI mentors monitor the online forum answering questions and sharing advice on how to implement the programme.
If you are an Independent school or a state-maintained school based outside of England, and therefore do not qualify for DfE funded offer, Elklan provide training to deliver the NELI programme.
For more information, you may wish to watch the recording of our online webinar hosted for colleagues who support with school improvement or children’s language and communication across a local area.