ELSA - Emotional Literacy Support

What is ELSA?

There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning. Some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists which recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.

We are lucky enough to have two qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants at Robert Kett Primary School, (Mrs Amy Brewster and Mrs Debbie Joseph). They have been trained to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of our ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are fun, we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or arts and craft. ELSA sessions take place away from the classroom and provide a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.

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

How Does ELSA Work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders, SENCo or sometimes by parents/carers. The ELSA trained Teaching Assistants discuss referrals with the SENCo and pupils are prioritised for support. Sessions are then planned carefully to facilitate the pupils in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.

Supporting - Not Fixing!

Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What they can do is provide emotional support by establishing a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings.

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.

ELSA Leaflet