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What is ELSA?

In every school, there are children and young people facing life challenges that detract them from their ability to engage with learning. Some of these pupils will require additional support to increase their emotional literacy. The ELSA programme is an evidence-based approach designed to build the capacity of primary and secondary school staff in supporting children and young peoples' social and emotional needs.

It is an initiative which aims to bring about positive change through the application of psychology. It is founded on the principle that in order to promote children’s learning, it is important to support their emotional wellbeing and happiness.  This links closely to the current Government agenda which prioritises mental health and wellbeing.

Emotional literacy support assistants (ELSAs) are teaching assistants trained by educational psychologists to provide emotional and social skills support to children in their schools.

What does the ELSA training programme involve?

ELSAs receive 5 days of training delivered by educational psychologists. This is aimed at developing ELSAs’ skills, knowledge and understanding of supporting children experiencing a range of social and emotional needs.

ELSAs are trained in supporting children to: 

  • Develop their social skills

  • Enhance their self esteem

  • Recognise and manage their emotions

  • Build effective peer relationships

  • Manage bereavement and loss

Through the training, ELSAs are supported in developing their active listening and counselling skills and are equipped with a variety of practical and creative ways of supporting children within the school context. ELSAs develop the skills to plan and implement individual and small group evidence-based interventions, for example those utilising social stories and therapeutic stories.

Upcoming ELSA Training

What ongoing support does an ELSA receive?

Following their 5 days of training, ELSAs receive 4 group supervision sessions with an educational psychologist delivered on a half termly basis. Attendance at training and group supervision sessions enable ELSAs to gain certification.

In order to maintain their certification, ELSAs commit to ongoing supervision to ensure that they receive the necessary professional and ethical support to carry out their work to an appropriate standard in school.

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