ELSAs are Emotional Literacy Support Assistants. They are teaching assistants who have received specific additional training from educational psychologists from whom they receive on going supervision following training. Their role is to support children and young people in school to understand and regulate their own emotions whilst also respecting the feelings of those around them.
The ELSA Network supports and assists ELSAs in their valuable work, as well as helping area co-ordinators to publicise ELSA work in their locality. Many local authorities across England and Wales now have ELSAs in their schools.
Through the ELSA Network website we hope to inspire the development of this work elsewhere.
From academic attainment to all-round development
Over recent years there has been increased recognition of the impact of social and emotional aspects of learning on academic attainment in schools. The Children Act 2004 (Every Child Matters) recognised that schools need to be concerned with the all round development of children.
All children should be nurtured in accordance with their individual needs. 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.
The ELSA model developed in Hampshire
Hampshire ELSAs are Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) who receive six days of additional training from educational psychologists on aspects of emotional literacy including emotional awareness, self-esteem, anger management, social and friendship skills, social communication difficulties, loss, bereavement and family break-up. ELSAs receive supervision from educational psychologists once every half term in a local group of either primary or secondary ELSAs. Supervision groups are normally a maximum size of 8 ELSAs. ELSAs may also receive some additional individual support from their supervisor if needed, usually via email or telephone contact. A school may also ask an educational psychologist working with their school to advise the ELSA on how to support a pupil for whom there is particular concern.
Tips for schools
All staff in school need to understand the ELSA role, how it works and how to get the best from it. Click here for a leaflet that summarises key information.