ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)
What is ELSA and what do they do?
ELSAs are Emotional Literacy Support Assistants. They are teaching assistants who have received specific additional training from Educational Psychologists from whom they receive ongoing supervision following training. Their role is to support children and young people in school to understand and regulate their own emotions whilst also respecting the feelings of those around them. Our ELSA in school has been doing this role for many years – Mrs Julie Enright. She attends regular ELSA catch-ups with an Educational Psychologist in Sutton and networks with others ELSAs in local Sutton Primary Schools. Julie is also our Home School Link Worker and works with many of our families.
Jenny Burchett is also our ELSA and works with many of our children.
All children should be nurtured in accordance with their individual needs. There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning, and some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others.
How often will ELSA sessions take place?
Most ELSA programmes will last for 6 to 12 weeks, helping the pupil to learn some specific new skills or coping strategies. Clear programme aims (SMART targets) need to be set early on and each session has an objective - something the ELSA wants to help the pupil understand or achieve.
The sessions are not intended to fix children’s problems but are a means of supporting a child through a situation and encouraging them to begin to open up and talk and to learn to have strategies to deal with their emotions.
An ELSA will use counselling skills, include active listening, problem clarification and open questions in order to enable a child to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
What do the ELSA session involve?
ELSA sessions are fun and a range of activities, games, crafts are included to make sure the child feels calm and safe. The sessions take place in the ELSA room which provides a calm, safe space for the child where they feel nurtured. These sessions are mostly individual but can sometimes be done in groups for social skills support.
We provide ELSA sessions for children who may have emotional needs, anxiety, have a separation in the family, a bereavement, low self-esteem, behaviour, social skills needs, friendship issues, anger management. The ELSA will deal with many of these needs.
What do the children think of ELSA?
Our children have responded very well to the ELSA sessions and feel very comfortable going and will request more because they feel comfortable and safe. It has been a great way of providing that immediate support for the children.