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Emotional Literacy Support Assistants – Meeting Children’s Wellbeing Needs

Who are ELSAs?

An ELSA is a specialist teaching assistant who has been trained to work with children who are showing a wide range of emotional or social difficulties for example; anxiety, low self esteem, problems with anger etc.

ELSA’s have been chosen for their ability to build good relationships with children.

What do ELSAs do?

ELSA’s work closely with teachers to
set clear objectives for individual children. The ELSA will then work on these objectives with the child individually or in a small group. Activities which target the needs of
the child will be planned carefully by the ELSA’s.

ELSAs  have to complete a recognised training course designed specifically for assistants working in schools that covers a wide range of areas including: social skills, emotions, bereavement, social stories and therapeutic stories, anger management, self-esteem, counselling skills such as solution focus and friendship.

Will my child enjoy the ELSA sessions?

Yes Of Course!!
ELSA sessions are planned in advance and tailor made to suit the needs of the children. The sessions are designed to be fun and interactive to engage and motivate the child.
The ELSA may use a range of activities throughout the sessions which could include games, puppets, role play, making things, talking and listening etc. For example puppets can be a great way of modelling social situations or getting children to talk about how they feel in different circumstances.

What will be covered during the sessions?


What if my child needs further help?

Your child’s progress will be monitored closely during the ELSA programme. If the school or parent feels that the child needs further support the school has access to a range of external support services. ELSA’s have close links with the school’s Educational Psychologist.

What are the benefits of ELSA?

Children learn better and are happier if their emotional needs are addressed .

They learn to:

  • Develop coping strategies and talk about difficulties.
  • Interact more successfully with others.
  • Develop greater self-awareness manage school better and feel better about themselves.
  • Pupils with an ELSA feel they have been listened to and supported.

What can a parent or carer to to support at home?

  • Find time to listen to your child
  • Do lots of fun things together
  • Encourage your child to see the positives in every situation
  • Encourage problem solving to find peaceful solutions
  • Help your child to see things from the view of other people
  • Discuss any problems or concerns you have with your child’s teacher/ SENCo

Who to contact to get ELSA support for your child.

You can speak with your child’s education setting or read their school SEND offer, to find out if they have a trained ELSA that can support your child.

To download a PDF leaflet copy of the above ELSA information click here


If you are looking to become an ELSA then you will need to speak with the school that employs you or visit the Portsmouth Education Partnership Website. 

Click here to read more about ELSAs in Portsmouth City. 

The Portsmouth ELSA Project contains information on training to become an ELSA and working practice – including supervision.

To find out more about the Portsmouth ELSA Project Click here

TeachNow have recently written a blog  which discusses the role of the ELSA and ELSA’s share their stories and views. You can read the blog piece by clicking here.

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