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Customer Stories

Transforming Language Development at Henleaze Infants School with NELI

Henleaze Infants School share how NELI is helping their children improve in confidence, vocabulary and narrative story telling skills.

Henleaze Infants School is a large school located in Bristol in England. Since September 2021, they have been using the NELI programme in Reception. Sallie Wood, the Early Years Reception Teaching Assistant, shares her experience using LanguageScreen and delivering the NELI intervention.   

Using LanguageScreen to assess all children  

All reception children are assessed in the Autumn Term using LanguageScreen, the language screening tool provided as part of the NELI programme. The results of this assessment are used to select the children who will then participate in the intervention. Each year we select between 4-6 children to participate in NELI.   

We like the LanguageScreen assessment as it provides an early indicator of the whole cohort’s language, listening and comprehension skills. We like the written results that you get for all children, and importantly being able to compare the whole cohort. As a large school the reports being automatically generated is a big plus for us.  

We are impressed how LanguageScreen consistently identifies children with good speaking and vocabulary but limited reasoning and comprehension. Without LanguageScreen, two of our NELI children might have been overlooked this year.   

In the past, we assessed language through observations and interactions with children. However, LanguageScreen’s ability to catch all children and identify those who may benefit from the intervention is invaluable.  

Delivering NELI Group and Individual Sessions  

The children participating in the intervention are excited to come to the sessions, they ask everyday “when is it time for Ted?” They rush into the room to find where Ted is hidden. They can all recite the rules at the start of the session and love it at the end when “Best Listener” is announced. As a result of the structured nature of these sessions, we are also seeing improved attention from the children.  

As a large school, the NELI children come from different classes. The children feel privileged to be selected for NELI. They see themselves as a little team and will often find each other outside and play together.  

We find the individual sessions complement the group sessions well. Children have their own time to recall words, which is useful, as this can sometimes be dominated by other children in the group sessions. We had one child who joined our school with no English, they would be so excited to share the words they were learning in NELI with me when we were back in the classroom. Since completing NELI they can now use full sentences when talking – a remarkable improvement. 

The programme really helps across the whole curriculum. The vocabulary learnt in each session is really useful, and sometimes exceeds what their peers know about a particular topic. I recall asking children in class where their “ankle” is and the NELI children knew before the rest of the class.  

Improvements in children’s language skills 

We have seen excellent results because of NELI. Last year, when we reassessed the children with LanguageScreen at the end of the year, all NELI children made considerable improvements. In some cases, the NELI children overtook their peers. On average, the NELI children improved their LanguageScreen score by 16.5 points compared to 5.5 points for the rest of the cohort.  

We have also noticed positive changes in behaviour and classroom participation. Children quickly learn the format of the sessions and this helps them participate better, for example during circle time, taking turns and putting their hand up to speak.   

Although implementing NELI feels time consuming, the huge benefits to the children make this worthwhile. Communication and language are central to children’s development and progression in Early Years. Without these skills of listening, understanding and communicating children struggle to access any of the curriculum. We have more time in Early Years to address any issues and put in place interventions for the children to close any gaps.  

We see every day the impact NELI has on our children. Whether they are native English speakers, or English as an Additional Language (EAL) speakers, we see improved confidence, vocabulary and narrative story telling skills across all children. I am still amazed at the progress the children make because of NELI.  

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