Government Funding Support for COVID Early Language Skills Gap

Monday, 24 August, 2020

Government has announced today (24 August) a funding package of up to £9 million to provide schools with training and resources to help them deliver one-to-one and small-group support for five-year-olds whose spoken language skills may have suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The programme, known as the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), is a high-quality, evidence-based, 20-week intervention designed to improve the language skills of reception age pupils. Participating schools will receive resources and will be able to access online training from the start of the spring term 2021.

Every state funded school which has a Reception class will be invited to apply for this support, with priority given to schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

The investment is part of the £350 million National Tutoring Programme which runs alongside the one-off universal £650 million catch-up premium and provides additional, targeted support for those children and young people who need the most help. Both programmes are key pillars of the wider £1 billion COVID catch-up package announced by Government in June.

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said:

“We cannot afford for our youngest children to lose out, which is why this package of support is focused on improving early language skills for the Reception children who need it most, and especially those whose long-term outcomes who have been affected by time out of education.”

Schools must register their interest in the fund by the 30 October 2020.

For further information, email


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