Revealed: How to get early language help at your school

Schools can now apply to get on the second wave of the DfE-funded Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme

Claudia Civinini

NELI programme

The government has announced that every state school with a Reception class can now apply to receive training and resources under the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI).

NELI is a 20-week programme aimed at improving the oral language skills of children aged 4-5 in need of additional targeted support.

The first wave of the programme, launched last year, provided support to 6,672 schools 2020/21.

Now recruitment of schools for a second wave is being launched and will run in 2021/22. It is open to schools that have not received the support yet – but the Department for Education says places are limited and allocated on a "first-come, first-served basis." 


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Here's what schools need to know,

Who is eligible?

All state schools with Reception pupils that have not received the programme last year can apply. 

The programme is available only to schools in England.

The early bird catches the NELI

Places on the programme are limited and registration is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to register early, according to the NELI website.

You can register your school here.

When will schools know if they have been selected?

According to the NELI website, the number of school places available will be released "in batches" as the exact number of resources needed is confirmed. It warns that some schools may not receive confirmation until the next batch of resources is released.

Up to £8 million has been allocated to the programme for the  2021/2022 wave.

When will the programme start?

Staff nominated for training will be contacted and invited to enrol on the platform FutureLearn for the NELI course from 17 September.

From September, NELI leads will be invited to enrol for their school’s LanguageScreen account. The LanguageScreen assessment will take about 10 minutes per pupil and the scores can help teachers decide which pupils will need the NELI programme.

Physical resources (handbooks, flashcards and Ted the puppet) for the NELI programme, provided by Oxford University Press, are scheduled to reach schools in November/December 2021.

After these three steps, schools can start delivering the programme – NELI says it anticipates most schools will start in January 2022.

Which staff will be involved in NELI?

The programme organisers say this will depend on the size of the school's reception group and the number of children selected to receive it.

However, there are a few other factors to consider:

- Schools typically train one member of staff to deliver the programme for every NELI group (usually 3-6 pupils);

- Reception class teachers are required to undertake some aspects of the training;

- It is also necessary to nominate a NELI lead, who will be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the programme.

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Claudia Civinini

Claudia Civinini

Find me on Twitter @claudiacivinini

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