Hello and welcome to our school ELSA page!
What is an ELSA?
An ELSA is a specialist teaching assistant with a wealth of experience of working with children. 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. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists and as the qualified ELSA here at Prospect Hill Infants and Nursery school I am trained, supported and regularly supervised by these psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to children who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. It is recognised that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are addressed. As an ELSA my aim is to help your child feel happy in school and reach their potential educationally, whilst removing barriers to learning resulting in happy children in school and at home.
How does the ELSA work?
Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or SENCo. Having identified and prioritised these children, with the programme aims in mind I 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.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs including:
- Recognising emotions
- Social skills
- Friendship skills
- Anger management
- Loss and bereavement
How does the Emotional Literacy Support work?
- A regular slot during the school week.
- Sessions can be individual or in small groups and tailored to the child’s individual needs.
- Sessions are fun and might include role-play, puppets, board games, arts and crafts and stories.
- They include time to talk and be heard.
- A pupil’s progress will be reviewed on a half-termly basis
Supporting – Not Fixing
Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children’s problems. In most cases we can’t.
What ELSAs 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. In our ELSA role we use basic counselling skills (including active listening, problem clarification, open questions) to guide conversations. We avoid rushing in with suggested solutions and instead assist the pupil to reflect on their concerns and lead them to explore possible strategies and solutions for themselves.
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. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.
Mentally Healthy Schools: www.mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk