Private and voluntary settings will be able to access early language catch-up scheme

Nicole Weinstein
Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Disadvantaged children in PVI early years settings will be able to share in the Government's catch-up scheme to boost their language skills.

Disadvantaged pre-school children will benefit from a £10m catch-up scheme to boost their language skills, the Department of Education has confirmed, following a request from Nursery World for more details on the £18m language support scheme announced last week.

The DfE said the £10m funding for pre-school disadvantaged children will be available for children in private, voluntary and independent early years settings, as well as maintained settings.

A spokesperson said the DfE was working through the details for the new programme, which will include PVI nurseries, and that further information would be provided in due course.

The remaining £8m of the fund will be allocated to the Nuffield Foundation to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) for Reception children, which was launched in August 2020.

More than a third of primary schools have signed up to the 20-week targeted programme designed to improve the oral language skills of children aged four to five in need of support.

In May 2020, the Education Endowment Foundation published the results of a large-scale effectiveness trial of the intervention. The results from 193 schools showed that the programme increased the language skills of four to five year-olds by an additional three months.

Josh Hillman, Nuffield Foundation’s director of education, said, ‘The Nuffield Early Language Intervention has been proven effective at improving children’s oral language skills, which are essential for building the foundations of literacy and learning. Children in over a third of primary schools will benefit from this intervention in the current school year and we welcome the additional investment from the DfE, which will increase the number of schools who are able to provide additional support to children most at risk from falling behind in their learning.’

Participating schools receive training and resources to deliver one-to-one and small group support for children whose spoken language skills may have suffered as a result of the pandemic.

The programme has an initial focus on expressive and receptive vocabulary, listening and narrative skills through discussion of key thematic images and the retelling, creating and summarising of stories. During the latter half of the programme, phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge activities are also introduced as a foundation for early literacy skills.

 

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