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. 

After six months, the children in the intervention group had maintained their progress and actually outperformed the waiting control group on reading comprehension. 

The Nuffield Foundation and the researchers are now exploring and trialling ways to promote and deliver the intervention on a large scale.

In its development stage, the Nuffield Early Language Intervention was called Nuffield Language4Reading.

Independent evaluation

In 2016, the Education Endowment Foundation conducted a randomised control trial of the roll-out, involving 34 schools and nurseries. An independent evaluation of the trial found that Nuffield Early Language Intervention improved the vocabulary, grammar and listening skills of four- and five-year-olds by as much as four months.

Project details



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

Funding programme


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 Managers Sharon Grinham (North) or Elaine Welsh (South)

Website: NuffieldIntervention
Email: consultant
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





Watch the Nuffield Early Language Intervention in action:

The case for early years language intervention

Language intervention in nursery

Language intervention in reception

These short videos were originally made for the Teachers TV website.