Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA)

What is an ELSA?

ELSAs are Emotional Literacy Support Assistants.  They are education assistants who have had special training from educational psychologists to support the emotional development of children and young people in school. ELSAs have regular professional supervision from educational psychologists to help them in their work.


How do ELSAs work?

ELSAs are pro-active, not reactive, in supporting students who have some social or emotional needs. ELSA support is not the same as counselling.

ELSAs help children and young people learn to understand their emotions and respect the feelings of those around them. They provide the time and space for pupils to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them.


How long is an ELSA programme?

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) are set early on and each session has an objective – something the ELSA wants to help the pupil understand or achieve. ELSA support is tailored to the needs of the child. Sometimes this might take place in a group, sometimes on a one-to-one basis.


Where and when does ELSA support take place?

At RCHK, there is a special ELSA room, which is quiet and peaceful. It is full of the resources that might be needed during ELSA sessions, and new resources are being added all the time. Usually, children enjoy going to the ELSA room for their sessions. If a child wants to use a different space, however, the ELSA will talk with the student to find out where would be a better space for them.

Your child will go with the ELSA at a time agreed with the classroom teacher. Because it is a type of learning, ELSA sessions do not take place during snack or lunchtime, although the ELSA room is open during some breaks in case children want to go somewhere to ask for help with friendships or other social or emotional challenges.


How will I know if my child is receiving ELSA support?

First of all, your child’s class teacher will contact you to let you know that your child will be receiving a programme of support from the ELSA. Then, once an ELSA has been assigned, the ELSA will be in touch with you. Sometimes they will ask you to complete a form for additional information. Working closely with home is the most effective way of supporting children as they learn new emotional and social skills. If you would like further information. the classroom teacher of the VP for Wellbeing will be happy to chat with you about the support your child is receiving.


What sort of thing will my child do when they are working with an ELSA?
That will depend a lot on the age of your child and what they are receiving support for! The ELSAs use books, games, video clips and crafts to work with students. Over time, they have built up a lot of resources and ideas, and they are advised by the LET team or the school counsellor if they need more suggestions.


Some of the activities that the students might undertake are:

  • Group discussions
  • Role play
  • Breathing techniques, including for relaxation
  • Dance and relaxation
  • Guided meditation
  • Mindful activities including colouring and breathing
  • Positive self talk
  • Mindful therapeutic craft