What is ELSA?
ELSA stands for an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. Our ELSA here at Widmer End Community Combined School is Miss Katie Allen.
There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning. 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.
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 and we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft. ELSA sessions take place in our very own 'ELSA room' which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
- Recognising emotions
- 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 on occasion the SENCo. With the programme aims in mind, support sessions plan to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
Supporting - not fixing
Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support. We 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. In these cases, school supports parents with referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA, and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.