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What is an ELSA?

An ELSA is an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant.  An ELSA is a specialist teaching assistant with a wealth of experience of working with children.  ELSAs are trained and regularly supervised by the Educational Psychologists from the local education authority.  An ELSA is a warm and caring person who wants to help your child feel happy in school and to reach their potential educationally.  Their aim is to remove the barriers to learning and to have happy children in school and at home. Please do talk to our ELSAs if you have any problems with your child.


Who are the ELSAs in school?

Our two trained ELSAs at our school are...

Mrs Winter                          Mrs Ardren

ELSAs can help with a wide variety of problems such as:

  • Loss and bereavement
  • Self-esteem
  • Social Skills
  • Emotions
  • Friendship issues
  • Relationships
  • Anger Management
  • Behaviour
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Conflict
  • Relaxation techniques


Typical Problems

A very angry child - The ELSA will take the child through an anger management intervention to help them recognise their anger triggers, techniques to avoid those triggers and calming down techniques.

A loved pet has died - ELSAs are trained in bereavement and understand that the loss of a pet is probably the first experience of death for your child.  They will work with your child to help them feel supported in school.

How do they work with your child?


Individual Sessions

The ELSA will plan sessions for your child depending on their need. 


Group Sessions

The ELSA will plan their sessions for your child very carefully.  The session consists of several parts, the first two parts consist of a circle-time where children sit in a circle and take turns to speak.


A) Emotional Check in - This is an opportunity to talk about feelings.


B) Warm up activity - A fun game or activity to help relax your child.


C) Main Activity - This is similar to the individual session but your child will be encouraged to work with other children.  This helps with co-operation, social skills, friendship and gives a sense of belonging.  A learning objective will be set for the group of children which they will all be able to answer at the end of the session.


D) Relaxation - Your child will be taught a relaxation exercise to help get them ready to o back to class.


How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher. 


Supporting - not fixing

Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support. We aim to establish 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. 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. In these cases, school supports parents with referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA, and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.