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ELSA - Emotional Literacy Support Assistant.


There will always be children in schools facing life challenges.  These situations and the emotions that follow detract their ability to engage with learning effectively - our ELSAs in school help our children get through these struggling times. Some children require greater support than others and need a range of tools/strategies to increase their emotional literacy and resilience. ELSA is an initiative that was originally developed and supported by Educational Psychologists and they recognised that children learn better and are much happier in school, if their emotional needs are addressed.


We are lucky to have a qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Moira Primary - Miss Johnson. She has been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support for pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term emotional needs.  Miss Smith one of our experienced LSAs has started her training to become an ELSA too.


The majority of ELSA work in school 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 based in our Nurture Room, a calm, welcoming, safe space for the child to feel supported. The sessions are fun and we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft.  


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


Recognising emotions.



Social Skills.

Friendship skills.

Anger Management.

Loss and bereavement. 

How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their Class Teacher or Senior Leaders. Every half term our ELSAs will meet with Mrs Santy to discuss the referral forms, to identify and prioritise which children require a  6 week programme. With the programme aims in mind, they then plan support sessions to develop new skills and coping strategies that allow our children to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.


Supporting - not fixing

Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems and they are not counsellors. They provide emotional support for children. Our ELSAs aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly.


It needs to be appreciated that change cannot be achieved rapidly and success 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 difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of the child's needs.


Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process. A great deal of wisdom is required as well in order to recognise when specific issues are beyond the level of expertise of an ELSA. In these cases, school signposts parents/carers via referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. 


Individual objectives are set with the child in partnership with the parent/carer, class teacher and occasionally outside agencies. ELSA sessions provide the time and space for validation of the child’s feelings and there are plenty of opportunities to work towards a solution.