At ELSA, we are contacted by an increasing number of educational psychologists conducting research, often at doctoral level, into the impact of ELSA training, supervision and intervention. Anyone who is conducting or has completed research into aspects of ELSA is invited to contact the website co-ordinator with information about the focus of their research. Contact details should also be included. In this way the ELSA Network can facilitate contact between researchers and help to stimulate further research ideas.
Some local evaluation reports are to be found in the the ELSA Around the UK section of the website.
A qualitative study of ELSAs’ and children’s experiences of the ELSA programme.
Researcher: Sharon McEwen
This study explored the experiences of Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) (n=8) and the young people they worked with (n-7) using a semi structure interview. A thematic analysis revealed that ‘relationships’ was an important aspect of both ELSAs and children’s experiences of the ELSA programme and pivotal to the change process. The child-ELSA relationship was viewed by children as a coping mechanism in itself that children draw on to a varying degree after formal sessions have ended. Factors influencing the formation of this relationship were also identified. For ELSAs these included ELSA qualities, self-confidence and implementation factors (e.g. leadership, resources). For children these included the qualities of the ELSA, confidentiality and sessions being perceived as fun and enjoyable. The results and implications of these findings are discussed with reference to relevant research.
An Evaluation of the Emotional Literacy Support Assitant (ELSA) Project: What is the impact of an ELSA Project on support assistants’ and children’s self-efficacy beliefs?
Researcher: Dr Laura Grahamslaw
This doctoral research was completed in Northumberland. The ELSA project was found to have a positive impact on both support assistants’ and children’s self-efficacy beliefs.
Ascertaining the impact of training and supervision on ELSAs’ skills in supporting emotional literacy development in children.
Researcher: Mary Leighton
This research seeks to learn from Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) how they perceived the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) training had affected their engagement with their school community and the pupils they were working with. The thesis places the role of ELSAs within the context of the rise in interest in emotionality in education and psychology over recent years. The research was conducted with trainee ELSAs who took part in a semi-structured interview whilst most also kept a reflective journal. The ELSAs reported they considered the training had provided them with a greater understanding of their pupils’ emotions and that they felt more competent in supporting their pupils with their emotionality. In addition, the ELSAs considered they were more confident discussing the pupil’s emotionality with colleagues and the pupil’s parents. However, many reported obstacles which prevented them in engaging in their role from their senior management team (SMT) and colleagues. The ELSAs perceived this was due to a lack of understanding emotional literacy (EL). In addition, ELSAs faced the challenge of working with parents who held a mismatch with the school’s expectations regarding pupil behaviour. Mary makes recommendations as to how ELSAs could be supported in their schools. In addition, she explores implications for Educational Psychologists (EPs), schools and local authorities (LAs) with regards to the position of emotionality set against the backdrop of the recent reforms in working with individuals with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Mary’s thesis is available at http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/12444/
How does the ELSA-Child relationship supportchildren’s emotional wellbeing and academic progress?
Researcher: Lucy Ball
This is on going doctoral research. The ELSAs have been taking pre- and post-intervention measures of children’s emotional wellbeing and academic attainment. Their progress is being compared with that of children on a waiting list to receive ELSA intervention. ELSAs are also completing a measure to explore the relationship they were able to establish with the children they supported. Lucy is conducting interviews with the ELSAs to explore these relationships in greater depth. She is aiming to explore the impact of the ELSA-Child relationship on children’s progress.
An evaluation of the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant Intervention from the Perspectives of Primary School Children
Researcher: Becky Hills
This is on going research which will be conducted in two stages. A questionnaire will be given to 100 primary school children who have received ELSA support in the previous 6 months to gain their perspectives on the programme. Becky will then carry out semi-structured interviews with 8 of these children to gather their views in more detail.
An Investigation of Factors that Influence Parental Engagement in the ELSA Programme
Researchers: Rachel Price and Rebecca Stewart
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; Rebecca.Stewart@bristol.gov.uk
Factors that influence parental engagement in the ELSA programme were explored. Sixteen parents of children, who were about to begin an ELSA intervention, were recruited from four local authorities in South Wales. Participants in the experimental condition were provided with information about ELSA prior to the intervention whereas participants in the control condition were not. Following the six week ELSA intervention, participants in both conditions met with the ELSA and were informed about the research and asked to participate in an interview. A structured interview was conducted with twelve consenting participants. Thematic analysis revealed that parents were more interested in feedback throughout the intervention as opposed to an information pack. Strengths and limitations and directions for future research are discussed.
- Not only information about the programme but also feedback on progress is important to parents.
- Parents found a conversation with the ELSA more useful than reading an information booklet.
- With regards to useful information, it was most helpful for parents to know that their child was receiving individual support.
- Parents felt involved in the intervention (regardless of condition) because many of the children talked with them about ELSA.
- All but two parents reported a positive change in their child’s behaviour following the ELSA intervention (the exceptions reported that their child had not attended all ELSA sessions).
An exploration of the ELSA programme from the perspectives of pupils and parents
Researcher: Hannah Barker
I am using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a methodology to explore pupils and parents’ thoughts, feelings and experiences of the ELSA programme. I am using semi-structured interviews with primary school pupils who have completed the ELSA intervention within the last 12 months. I am also holding interviews with their parents. The over-arching themes to be explored within the interviews are the pupils’ and parents’ personal experiences of the process and impact of the intervention and their ideas about the role of ELSAs.
What impact does the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) programme have on children and young people’s social and emotional wellbeing?
Researchers: Natasha Krause & Laura Blackwell
Contact: Cardiff University Doctoral Programme in Educational Psychology
Previous literature investigating the outcomes of the ELSA programme has focused on both the emotional literacy of teaching assistants and children and young people. Emotional literacy focuses on the individual and their capacities and does not consider the surrounding context and underlying determinants. This has resulted in a within child focus which could explain why the positive outcomes identified are often context specific and not generalisable to other settings, for example the child or young person’s home (Weare & Gray, 2003). In comparison social and emotional wellbeing can be defined as a dynamic process in which a child’s external circumstances are continually interacting with their individual characteristics (New Economics Foundation, 2009). Social and emotional wellbeing therefore can affect a child or young person’s wider physical health, their achievement in school as well as being a protective factor for ‘risky’ behaviours (Cefai, 2007; Hill, O’Hare, & Weidberg, 2013).
The project aims to measure the impact that the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) programme has on children and young people’s social and emotional wellbeing. For this research, social and emotional wellbeing will encapsulate the following wellbeing dimensions: positive feelings, negative feelings, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, resilience, autonomy, meaning and purpose and relationships (New Economics Foundation, 2009). Semi-structured interviews will be used to gather pupil’s views of their social and emotional wellbeing, covering these wellbeing dimensions. Gaining the voice of the child or young person will provide a more systemic view, as they will be more likely to consider both their school and home environment (Burton, Osborne, & Norgate, 2010; Wilding & Claridge, 2016).
Ideas for future research
Impact of ELSA intervention on:
- school attendance
- social competence
- self esteem
- pupil attitudes to school