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Sherford Vale School

Sherford ValeSchool

Sherford ValeSchool

Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA)

ELSA Support

"Together we can make a difference."


Here at Sherford Vale School we are very fortunate to have two members of staff that are trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistants. Miss Elliott and Mrs Holgate deliver one-to-one and group interventions that support children's mental health and emotional well-being.

These bespoke sessions support a wide variety of needs including: social skills, emotional logic, bereavement, social stories and therapeutic stories, anger management, self-esteem and counselling skills such as solution focus and friendships.

These interventions are monitored by the school's SENDCo, Mr Grafton and form a key part of Sherford Vale School's commitment to supporting child mental health.

What is ELSA?

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. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.

We are lucky enough to have two qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants at Sherford Vale School. They have been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils 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, we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or arts and craft. ELSA sessions take place  in a calm and safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.

In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs, including:

  • Recognising emotions
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Friendship skills
  • Anger management
  • Loss and bereavement

How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or the SENDCo. Every half term there is a meeting with our Senior leadership Team to discuss the referrals and to identify and prioritise which children require support. With the programme aims in mind we then plan support sessions to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.

Each session lasts from 30 - 45 minutes once a week.

Supporting - not fixing

Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What they can do is provide emotional support.

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.

It needs to be appreciated that change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and is dependent upon the context and complexity of the presenting issues. For children with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a child's need. Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process and wisdom is required to recognise when issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.

So what do the children think?

On completion of their ELSA programmes, we ask the children to reflect on their experiences and to kindly leave us some feedback. Here are some of the lovely comments we receive:  

"I like coming to ELSA, it makes me happy!"

"ELSA has helped me with confidence".

"It has helped me a lot with my anger and my problems in the playground. I enjoyed it very much!".

"I enjoyed ELSA and I want to stay!".

"ELSA has made me happy, excited and glad!".

"ELSA has helped me with bullying problems, making new friends and most of all to have fun!".

"I found the activities fun! I especially liked, 'My Perfect Friend' and 'Learning Words'. I loved it!".

"ELSA has helped me to be more sensible in class".

Below is a link to the ELSA Support website for more information.

There are a range of free resources available on the ELSA website which can be used to support mental health and well-being at home. Many of the resources are used during the sessions in school too.

COVID-19 Support

We are very aware of the impact the recent pandemic has had on children and adults alike. Below is a link to ELSA support's Coronavirus resources, all of which are free and can be used at home.