Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA)
At Ysgol yr Holl Saint - All Saints' School, we have three ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants) who have been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional or social 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 and use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft.
In ELSA pupils are supported for a wide range of emotional needs:
- Recognising emotions
- Social skills
- Friendship skills
- Anger management
- Loss and bereavement
Pupils are usually referred, through consultation, for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or on occasion the ALNCo. With the programme aims in mind sessions are planned to facilitate pupils in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support. The sessions 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 pupils with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all of their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a pupil'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 and carers with referrals for specialist services. The Educational Psychologist that supports our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSAs, and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.