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Stoborough CE Primary School

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Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)


What is NELI?

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) is a programme for children in Reception (4-5 years) which has been found to improve children’s language and early literacy skills. The programme involves a trained teaching assistant providing short small-group and individual teaching sessions to around 3-6 pupils for 20-weeks. Robust evaluations found NELI children made on average 3 months of additional progress in language. 


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 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.