What is an ELSA? 

There will always be children in schools facing life challenges, no more so than now, that detract from their ability to engage with learning. Some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others.

The Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) programme is an evidence-informed intervention delivered by teaching assistants and supervised by educational psychologists to support our children. After a thematic analysis of the programme the following themes were identified: “Feelings and Emotions”,Engagement”,Resilience”,Hopes and Aspirations” and “Relationships”.  These themes recognise that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.

The aim of our ELSA in school is to help the children at Dove CE Academy understand their emotions and respect the feelings of those around them. Our ELSA provides the time and space for pupils to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them. 


Through the work of our ELSA at Dove CE Academy we aim to provide support for the wide range of emotional needs of our children including:                                             

  • Recognising emotion  
  • Self-esteem  
  • Social skills     
  • Friendship skills  
  • Anger management  
  • Loss and bereavement  

Who is our ELSA? 

In our school, Mrs Walker is our ELSA.  She works with children across the school, usually on a one-to-one basis but also in small groups.  Mrs Walker has had special training from the educational psychologists to support the emotional development of children in school.  The ELSA room is where individual or groups of children will access her help and support.  However, sometimes in class may be more appropriate. Mrs Walker is available at the start and end of most school days and can be contacted via the main office phone or email address: 

Tel: 01889 590203 

E: office@dove.staffs.sch.uk 

What happens in an ELSA session? 

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 arts and craftELSA sessions take place in our ELSA room which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.  

How does ELSA work? 

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacherTogether with the class teacher, Mrs Walker will identify the target areas, a programme of support will be put in place and all parties will share the strategies that she develops to build continuity and sustainability into the work she doesMost ELSA programmes will last for 6 weeks, helping the child to learn some new specific skills or coping strategies but most of all it is a chance for them to talk and a chance for us to listen. 

SMART targets will be set for each of the children who receive ELSA support.  Each session will have an objective that the ELSA wants the pupil to understand or achieve. By setting targets for the children, and by also formulating a “baseline” from which we can work, we are able to “measure” the impact of our ELSA. These measures could be linked to attendance, punctuality, a reduction in the number of outbursts, less involvement with the behaviour management system or an improvement in their attainment, achievement, productivity or attitude.

The ELSA is able to monitor this as well as by speaking with staff and parents and carers. Our ELSA isn’t there to ‘fix’ the child and for some of our pupils with complex or long-term needs, it is unrealistic to expect ELSA support to resolve all of their difficulties. The needs of these children would be discussed within our SENDCo. However, by building a positive relationship with the children, our ELSA can help them to think about their behaviours, worries and anxieties, and give them the time and space to reflect on these and share honestly their thoughts and feelings. By doing this our children who benefit from our ELSA support can make huge strides in their progress, confidence, belief and become positive learners who are better placed to achieve their potential.   

If you would like to know more about our ELSA then please contact school via the following email address: