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The NELI Programme: A Vital Part of Early Years Provision

St Thomas More School share why The NELI Programme is a vital part of their Early Years Provision, with clear progress made by every child who participates.

St Thomas More is a two-form entry Catholic primary school in Bexleyheath, Southeast London. They are dedicated to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum and ensuring their classrooms are a language-rich environment is a key part of their approach. They have been using the NELI programme for three years, after initially being part of an NFER research project. Alex Davies, Assistant Head Teacher and EYFS Lead shares why NELI is such a successful part of their school environment. 

Consistent, simple, and engaging screening  

The programme starts each year with us using LanguageScreen to assess all our Reception children. We love how simple LanguageScreen is to follow. It’s consistent and fair so all children can achieve while being engaged in the assessment itself.  

Being a large school means we have a lot of children to assess, but it’s worth the initial effort as we get full, detailed results for every child. We use the reports we get back from the LanguageScreen assessments to identify the children who would benefit from receiving the NELI intervention as well as other speech and language activities around the classroom. The format of the reports also makes it easy for us to share this information with parents.  

Structured, vocabulary-rich sessions 

We love that the NELI sessions are structured and provide a routine for children yet can be tweaked to meet the individual needs of each child in the group. The repeated exposure to and learning of the vocabulary is key to the success of NELI. The children respond well to the praise that is implicit in the NELI sessions and strive to be awarded Best Listener each session. They are also more respectful and better at ‘turn-taking’ as a result of the NELI sessions.  

Each new topic introduces key vocabulary via Special Words which the children enjoy learning and recall well. The children can relate to the topics, and where needed we use the NELI Group sessions to provide more context for them. As the children become more confident in their use of the vocabulary, we see them applying this to what they are learning in class as well. 

Outside of the sessions, we noticed that children’s confidence in class discussions has come on leaps and bounds. We see them answering in full sentences and they are using more ambitious vocabulary. They are communicating more effectively with adults. We’ve also noticed that their social skills have drastically improved as well. They are really proud of themselves and the progress they have made.  

Extensive, practical support 

The training and support that comes with the NELI Programme has been so helpful. The initial training courses were thorough and detailed, we particularly found the videos which model how to deliver the sessions invaluable as they gave us the confidence to know we were doing the right thing. We also like that you can access the training whenever you need it throughout the year, which came in particularly useful when we needed to train a new TA on NELI partway through the year. 

The regular programme emails we receive ensure we stay on track with all the programme milestones, and we find the hints and tips on delivery practice to be great as we are always learning something new.  We also appreciate that we can contact the NELI team for support whenever we have a specific question about delivering the programme, they have always provided advice and guided us in our delivery whenever we have needed it.  

A vital part of our EYFS provision 

NELI has been a wonderful addition to our EYFS provision. The children have adored working with Ted and developing their vocabulary and understanding. After NELI, children are more confident, ambitious in their vocabulary choices and ready to continue great progress in year 1. Another benefit of delivering NELI is we have found that it has empowered our Teacher Assistants. They have real ownership of the programme and the children’s progress.  

The impact we see each year is outstanding and clear progress is made by every child who participates in the NELI Programme. We couldn’t have a better tool than NELI to support the children who need that little extra support.  

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