Nuffield Early Language Intervention

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is an evidence-based oral language intervention for children in nursery and reception who show weakness in their oral language skills and who are therefore at risk of experiencing difficulty with reading. It is delivered over 30 weeks by teaching assistants in groups of 3-4 children.  

The intervention was developed by a team from the University of York, who subsequently carried out a randomised control trial in 15 schools and feeder-nurseries across Yorkshire. After 30 weeks, the children who had received the intervention had improved expressive language skills, including the use of vocabulary and grammar. Their letter-sound knowledge and spelling also improved, indicating the foundations of phonics were in place. 

Independent evaluation

In 2016, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) published an evaluation study of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention. The statistically significant results from 34 schools demonstrated that the programme increased the attainment of levels of 4- to 5- year-olds in vocabulary, grammar and listening skills and improved language and children’s confidence. The EEF designated the intervention as a ‘promising project’ and a further, larger-scale trial involving 200 classrooms is in train.

Partnership with Oxford University Press

We are delivering the Nuffield Early Language Intervention in partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP). If you want to find out more about how to use the intervention in your school, visit the OUP website

Awards and recognition

In September 2018, the Nuffield Early Learning Intervention was awarded 3 stars in the Teach Early Years Awards. The awards aim to uncover the very best educational resources on offer to those supporting the learning and development of children aged 0-5. This year, more than 400 nominations were whittled down to 60 finalists. Shortlisted resources were judged on their effectiveness and value for money.

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention was awarded 3 stars in the Reception category. The category judge, Sue Cowley said: "The resource is sturdy and well made, and the package includes training for a TA and a teacher as well."  

In February 2019, the Nuffield Early Language Intervention was awarded a 3+ evidence rating in an upated version of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) Guidebook. The EIF Guidebook provides information about early intervention programmes that have at least preliminary evidence of achieving positive outcomes for children.

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention in action

Project details



Professor Margaret Snowling, Dr Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Professor Charles Hulme, University of York

Grant amount and duration


1 January 2009 - 31 May 2012

Project partners


How to get in touch:

Find out more about the Nuffield Early Language Intervention and how it can benefit your school, contact Oxford University Press' School Improvement Sales Manager Sharon Grinham

Website: NuffieldIntervention
Phone: +44 (0)1536 452610



Silke Fricke, Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Allyson J Haley, Charles Hulme, Margaret Snowling (2013) - Efficacy of language intervention in the early years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Silke Fricke, Kelly Burgoyne, Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Maria Kyriacou, Alexandra Zosimodou, Liam Maxwell, Anne Lervåg, Margaret J. Snowling, Charles Hulme (2017) - The efficacy of early language intervention in mainstream school settings: a randomized control trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Developing Language and Literacy: Effective Intervention in the Early Years

Julia M. Carroll (University of Warwick), Claudine Bowyer-Crane (University of York), Fiona J. Duff (University of York), Charles Hulme (University of York), Margaret J. Snowling (University of York)

Developing Language and LiteracyISBN: 978-0-470-71186-6

December 2010, ©2011, Wiley-Blackwell