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What is ELSA? 

ELSA stands for Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. The ELSA programme is a nationwide initiative designed to support the wellbeing of children in schools. ELSAs are teaching assistants who have undergone specific training in promoting and supporting the emotional wellbeing of young people. ELSAs receive ongoing training after qualifying to ensure their knowledge and skills are up-to-date and remain effective. 


Why have an ELSA in school? 

Children in school will sometimes face life challenges that affect their ability to engage in 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. 

ELSAs can support children’s emotional development and help them cope with life’s challenges. ELSAs also help children to find solutions to problems they might have.  


What areas can an ELSA help with? 
  • Loss and bereavement 

  • Emotional Literacy 

  • Self-esteem 

  • Social Skills 

  • Friendship issues 

  • Relationships 

  • Managing strong feelings 

  • Anxiety and worries 

  • Bullying 

  • Conflict 

  • Emotional Regulation 

  • Growth Mindset 

  • Social and therapeutic stories 

  • Problem-solving 

How does ELSA work? 

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by school Senior Leaders. Every half term, the ELSA meets with the Inclusion Lead, to discuss referrals and to identify and prioritise which children require weekly sessions. They 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. 

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 therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft.  ELSA sessions take place in our ‘ELSA room' which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured. 

Most ELSA sessions will last for 6 to 12 weeks and are tailored to an individual child’s needs, interests and developmental stage. The aim is to help children to learn some new specific skills or coping strategies. Most of all, it is a chance for children to talk and a chance for us to listen. 

Supporting - not fixing 

An ELSA is not there to fix children’s problems, but to offer important support to a child or young person and help them find their own solutions. ELSAs aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective and safe space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly. 

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. In cases where issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA, referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS may be more appropriate.  

ELSA at Sussex Road: 

Our Sussex Road ELSA is Ms Rebecca Cobby. She runs ELSA sessions on 4 afternoons a week from our dedicated ELSA room in school.  


Find out more about ELSA: 

The ELSA Network 


Get in touch

Sussex Road Community Primary School
Sussex Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 2TP

01732 352367