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Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA)

ELSA logo

What is an ELSA?

An Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) is a specialist teaching assistant who has been trained by educational psychologists to support children experiencing emotional or social difficulties. The ELSA programme recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. ELSAs can help children learn to understand their emotions better and respect the feelings of those around them. They can provide time and space for children to think about the challenges they face and how they might manage them.


How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher – with parents being consulted as part of this process. The referral will identify a key area to focus on and one or two realistic targets for the child to work towards.

When a slot becomes available, children will meet with our ELSA for 30 – 45 minutes each week for a period of 6 weeks.

It is important to note that ELSA is not an ongoing programme of support although there may be occasions when we are able to offer more than one programme to a child.

Sessions are designed to be enjoyable and fun and may take the form of games, craft, role-play, cartoon strips, videos and puppets depending on the child’s preferences. Some programmes are delivered individually and some in a small group where children can learn from each other’s experiences.

Our ELSA leaflet

Who is ELSA for?

Any child who may have temporary or longer-term emotional needs. These could be related to:

Anxiety and worries

Self-esteem, confidence, positive thinking

Feelings and emotions

Friendships and relationships

Understanding and regulating emotions

Loss, bereavement and family separation

Support NOT fixing!

Please remember that ELSAs are not there to fix children’s problems. What we can do is provide emotional support and equip them with some skills to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly.
It is important to understand that change cannot be achieved rapidly and is dependent on the context and complexity of a child’s issues. Some concerns may require more specialist support.

Help from home

Before speaking to your child's class teacher about support available in school, we ask all parents to access the resources and advice available below. We hope that the resources and advice will provide tools to help you teach your child strategies to manage these challenges.

The rainbow links below can sign-post you to some of the different websites which offer help and advice to parents and activities/books you can complete with your children at home.

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