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ELSA support started in 2004 as a pilot study in Hampshire. Since then it has been rolled out to many schools, but what is it, who delivers it in schools, what is its purpose and who can benefit from it?

What does ELSA stand for?

ELSA stands for Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. This intervention was developed within Southampton by Educational Psychologist Sheila Burton.

What is ELSA support?

ELSA support increases a school's capacity to assist the emotional needs of their pupils with the aim of improving emotional well being.

ELSAs are responsible for planning and delivering interventions within their school for children with mild emotional needs. They can work with individuals or small groups providing interventions for pupils from Reception to Year 13, within both mainstream and specialist provisions.

Who provides ELSA support?

Specially trained teaching assistants or learning mentors provide ELSA support. They develop and deliver support programmes to meet the emotional needs of children and young people in their schools.

What training do ELSA’s have?

ELSAs attend a 6-day initial training course. This course is spread over 4-5 months. The training days cover, emotional literacy in schools, raising emotional awareness, self-esteem, active listening and communication skills, anger management, working with puppets, social skills, social stories, friendship skills and writing therapeutic stories.

Once qualified ELSAs attend half termly group supervision with an educational psychologist.

Who might benefit from ELSA support?

Children who are showing a wide range of mild emotional or social difficulties, for example, anxiety, low self-esteem, or anger might benefit from ELSA support.

What might an ELSA session look like?

Normally an ELSA meets with a child once a week for half an hour for about 6 weeks.

Find more support for ELSAs

You can find more information about and support for ELSAs by visiting ELSA Support and ELSA Network.

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