St Michael's Primary School

Together we achieve


Hello and welcome to our school ELSA page!  Here we explain what an ELSA is and does. We also offer ideas and helpful advice on how you can help your child; suggest recommended books which you may find useful; and provide links to other websites for self-help at home.    Jennie West, ELSA, St Michael’s Primary School

What is an ELSA?


ELSAs are Emotional Literacy Support Assistants who have had special training from educational psychologists to support the emotional development and well-being of children and young people in school. They have regular professional supervision from educational psychologists to guide them in their work. ELSAs provide the time and space for pupils to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them.


Children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. Children may, for example, need support in recognising and managing their emotions, raising their self-esteem, resilience or improving peer relationships. They may need help in recovering from significant loss or bereavement or in developing ways to resolve conflict effectively. ELSAs are trained to plan and deliver programmes of support to children who may be experiencing temporary or long-term additional emotional needs.


The role of the ELSA is to develop children and young people's:

  • emotional literacy
  • positive mental health, 
  • social skills 
  • emotional wellbeing.  


As part of the SEND team at St Michael’s Primary School, I work closely with Mrs Juna, Family Worker, and Miss Knight, Inclusion Manager. Together, with the help of Mr Kilbane and our teachers, we identify and prioritise children who would benefit from ELSA support and the areas in which to target the support.


Working mainly 1:1, but sometimes in small groups or pairs, I help children to develop the social and emotional skills they need to flourish in school, supporting them to understand and regulate their own emotions whilst also respecting the feelings of those around them. I deliver bespoke interventions tailored to the presenting situation or need.  With the programme aims in mind I plan support sessions to facilitate the child in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.


What can ELSA help with?


There are a lot of emotional skills that ELSA can help with, including:


  • Recognising emotions
  • Social Skills
  • Empathy
  • Motivation
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Social Situations
  • Therapeutic Stories
  • Anxiety
  • Anger Management
  • Self-esteem
  • Real-life problem-solving skills
  • Friendship


What happens in an ELSA session?


ELSA sessions will typically happen fortnightly across the length of 2 terms and last for half an hour. During the session I:


  • Check how the child is and how they have been feeling for the past week.
  • Review the content that was covered in the last session and see if any of the information needs to be revisited.
  • Introduce new content through activities targeting the child’s needs.
  • End the session in a way that helps the child to adjust to going back to class.


Sessions are fun, I use a range of activities such as games, role-play with puppets or therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft. The sessions take place in our very own 'ELSA room' which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.


Where possible, sessions are scheduled at a regular time to help children to prepare and because the routine can also be beneficial for their emotional needs. At the end of an ELSA programme, children are reminded that it is OK to come to talk when they need to and I and their teachers continue to check-in on them. Further intervention towards new aims can be put in place at a later date if it becomes required.



Supporting - not fixing


Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems.

What we can do is provide emotional support.

I 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 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. In these cases, school supports parents with referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA, and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.


If you have concerns about your child and their emotional needs, always in the first instance, raise this with your child’s class teacher.