How the programme is structured

The programme involves a member of school staff (usually a teaching assistant or early years educator) delivering three small group sessions and two individual sessions each week to a targeted group of around 3-6 pupils for 20 weeks. NELI aims to develop children’s vocabulary, listening and narrative skills and in the last 10 weeks also involves activities to develop phonological awareness and early letter-sound knowledge as foundations for learning to read.

Group sessions

The content for each of the group sessions is provided in a handbook and take around 30-minutes to deliver to children. Each session involves:

  • Introduction (3 minutes) – Children are greeted and do a listening activity. In the latter 10 weeks the listening activity is replaced with letter/sound and phonological awareness activities (blending/segmenting)
  • Vocabulary (10 minutes) – New vocabulary is introduced and key vocabulary from the previous session is revised. Several group sessions are linked together around a theme such as ‘things we wear’, ‘my body’ or ‘people who help us’.
  • Narrative (10 minutes) – Children take part in narrative activities such as listening to stories, retelling stories, producing their own narratives, and summarising what they’ve heard.
  • Plenary (2 minutes) – A summary of the session is provided and children are praised for their participation.

Individual sessions

Individual sessions provide a valuable opportunity to consolidate learning from the group sessions, focus on developing children’s narrative skills and enable schools to adapt the level of the session to meet the needs of each child. These sessions usually last 15 minutes.

If a school plans to deliver the programme to 5 pupils it will involve 4 hours of the Teaching Assistant’s (TA) time per week to provide all the group and individual sessions to the 5 pupils. TAs will also need additional time for preparation and record-keeping each week.