Intervention details

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Nuffield Early Language Intervention

Not evaluated for Primary reading

Intervention description

Nuffield Early Language Intervention is an oral language intervention programme for children in nursery and reception classes. The intervention aims to help children improve several aspects of oral language including vocabulary knowledge, grammatical ability and narrative skills. It also includes phonological awareness activities and work on letter sound knowledge aimed at improving children's word level reading skills. It comprises a 10-week programme to be run in the last term of nursery (with three 20-minute group sessions per week), and a 20-week programme in reception (with three 30-minute group sessions and two 15-minute individual sessions per week). The group sessions are delivered to groups of three or four children.

These can be implemented as self-contained nursery and reception interventions, or combined into a 30-week programme spanning both years.

Staffing requirements

The intervention is suitable for delivery by trained teaching assistants, speech and language therapists, educational psychologists and teachers.

Professional development/training

Training is available for professionals wishing to become licensed Nuffield Early Language Intervention Tutors. Nurseries and schools can access training through I CAN, the children's communication charity.

Evidence Summary

The Education Endowment Foundation ran a project in 2014/2015 investigating the effectiveness of Nuffield Early Language Intervention, which found that it had a positive impact on children's language skills. The study found a mean effect size of +0.27 for speaking and listening. This would give the intervention a rating of strong for this outcome.

The Education Endowment Foundation is now running a further study to test whether a scalable version of the training and resources can produce similar results, the results should be available in spring 2019.

Key research

The Education Endowment Foundation evaluation found the intervention had a positive impact on the language skills of children in the trial. Staff reported improvements in the spoken language skills, conversational ability, narrative skills, and vocabulary of the participating children as well as improved listening skills and better general language development. Participating children were also perceived to be more confident, outgoing and conversational after taking part.

The EEF is funding a further trial of Nuffield Early Language Intervention to find out if the results can be replicated when the intervention is delivered to a larger number of schools. This will also allow follow up of longer term outcomes.

A team from RAND Europe will independently evaluate the intervention. At least 200 schools will be recruited and randomised to either be in the intervention group or the control group. The language skills of pupils will be assessed before the intervention and following delivery. 

The results of the evaluation should be available in Spring 2020. 


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