Reception year early language programme (NELI)

For the attention of all schools with Reception classes

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to let you know that today the Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford, has announced a reception year early language programme as part of the National Tutoring Programme in academic year 2020 to 2021.

The Department for Education will be working with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and other partners to scale-up delivery of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI).

NELI is a high-quality, evidence-based, 20-week intervention designed to improve the language skills of reception age pupils. It involves scripted individual and small group language teaching sessions, delivered by trained school staff, usually teaching assistants. Several EEF trials have found that NELI improves both children’s oral language and early literacy skills. A recent trial of the programme found that children made on average three months of additional progress compared to children in the comparison group.

Further information about delivering NELI in 20/21, including FAQs, can be found on the EEF’s website.

We are inviting schools to register their interest using this application form. All state funded schools with a reception class can apply but places are limited. If places are over-subscribed, schools will be prioritised based on their percentage of free school meals (FSM) eligibility.

We would be really grateful for your help cascading this information to schools in your area and via your local networks.

If you have any questions, please email the team directly at


Early Years Entitlements LA Delivery Team

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