Please take our brief survey

Blueprints Programs = Positive Youth Development

Return to Search Results

Promising Program Seal

Nuffield Early Language Intervention

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

An oral language program to improve children’s vocabulary, narrative skills, active listening, and confidence in independent speaking. Staff and teaching assistants work with children having language problems for 10 weeks in nursery school (ages 3-4) and 20 weeks in primary school (age 5).

Program Outcomes

  • Preschool Communication/Language Development
  • School Readiness

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Skills Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Denise Cripps
Executive Officer to the President
St. John's College, Oxford
Tel: 01 865 277456

Program Developer/Owner

  • Maggie Snowling
  • Department of Experimental Psychology and President

Brief Description of the Program

Nuffield Early Language Intervention is a 30-week language intervention program delivered in the final term in Nursery school (ages 3-4) and the first two terms in Reception class (age 5). The program comprises activities targeting spoken language skills for the first 20 weeks, supplemented for the final 10 weeks with training in two critical components of the alphabetic principle, letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness. A second 20-week version begins upon entry into primary school, rather than beginning in preschool.

See: Full Description


Fricke et al., (2013)

The program significantly improved scores on:

  • Composite language (vocabulary, grammar and listening comprehension)
  • Narrative awareness
  • Phonological awareness
  • Reading comprehension

Sibieta et al., (2016)

At posttest:

  • Composite language score (vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension) significantly favored the intervention group for the 30-week intervention
  • Composite language score for the 20-week intervention was marginally significant

Fricke et al. (2017)

At posttest and delayed 6-month follow-up, as compared to children in control, children in treatment (both in the 30-week and 20-week intervention groups) showed greater improvements in:

  • A composite measure of language skills (vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension)

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

No tests for program differences by race, ethnicity, or gender.

Risk and Protective Factors

Protective Factors
  • School: Instructional Practice

Training and Technical Assistance

The training for teachers/teaching assistants to deliver the program is a two-day training course and covers the following:

  • Background to the Nuffield Early Language Intervention program
  • Oral language development (including listening and comprehension)
  • Oral language development (vocabulary, grammar and narrative)
  • Overview of the programme
  • Discovering the Manual (including record-keeping and progress assessment tool)
  • Individual sessions
  • Letter sounds and phonological awareness
  • Record-keeping and assessment tools

The Reception program costs £400 and this includes the training.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 180 children from 15 nursery schools in Yorkshire (Fricke et al., 2013). From each school, 12 children with the lowest mean verbal composite scores were selected as participants in the trial. The waitlist control group received no additional service during the duration of the study. Children were assessed at baseline, posttest, and 6 months after the intervention.

A second evaluation was conducted with 394 children from 34 nursery schools in Yorkshire (Sibieta et al., 2016). From each school, approximately 12 children with the lowest mean verbal composite scores were selected as participants in the trial. Children were assigned to a 30-week treatment group, 20-week treatment group, or waitlisted control group. The study conducted assessments at baseline, posttest, and 6 months after completion of the intervention.

For a third evaluation, Fricke et al. (2017) conducted a replication and extension of the study by Fricke et al. (2013) that involved a randomized controlled trial with 394 children from 34 nursery schools in England (17 in Greater London and 17 in Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire). Within each school, children were assigned to the 30-week intervention (n=132), the 20-week intervention (n=129), or the waitlist control group (n=129). Outcomes were measured at baseline, posttest, and 6 months after completion of the intervention.


Fricke, S., Bowyer‐Crane, C., Haley, A. J., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Efficacy of language intervention in the early years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(3), 280-290.

Sibieta, L., Kotecha, M., & Skipp, A. (2016). Nuffield early language intervention: Evaluation report and executive summary. Education Endowment Foundation.