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ELSA - Emotional Literacy Support Assistant


What is ELSA?

ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. 

The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but it may be more appropriate for some small group work, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are fun and a range of activities are used. ELSA sessions take place in a calm, safe space to feel supported.

In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:

  • Recognising emotions
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Friendship skills
  • Anger management
  • Loss and bereavement

Work Sheets and Activities


How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred by their class teacher or SENCO but parents can also  request support if they feel their child will benefit from it. Programmes will usually be 6 - 12 weeks with one or sessions with our ELSA a week. The programmes aim to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively. Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems but to provide emotional support.  Our school ELSA attends regular supervision sessions with other ELSAs and an Educational Psychologist that is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.

It needs to be appreciated that change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and is dependent upon the context and complexity of the presenting issues.  For children with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a child's need.  Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process and wisdom is required to recognise when issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA.  The Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.

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