What is ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)?
The ELSA programme was originally developed by Sheila Burton, a Principal Educational Psychologist in Hampshire and is now being implemented across the UK. The aim of the ELSA programme is to build capacity within schools to support children’s emotional and social well-being. It recognises that children whose emotional needs are met, learn and engage better at school.
How does the ELSA programme work?
ELSAs are trained by Educational Psychologists in concepts relating to social, emotional and mental health as well as in skills in planning and implementing interventions. After the training, the ELSAs are then ready to deliver interventions, usually over 6- 12 weeks to both individuals and groups of children who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work 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 fun, ELSAs use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or arts and craft.
ELSAs do not offer therapy, but planned ,focused psychological interventions. The ELSA programme is not about “fixing” children nor is it about behaviour management . The aim is provide children with emotional support and a safe space where they can express how they feel and find their own solutions to their difficulties. ELSAs aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings. Children are also supported to learn skills in coping and building resilience.