ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support 

What is ELSA?  

There will always be children in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with 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. 


We are lucky enough to have a qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Durand Primary. Mrs Brunnock has been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. 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 craft.  ELSA sessions take place in our  Resource room which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured. 


In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:  

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

How does ELSA work? 

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or on occasion the SENCo. Target areas of concern will be identified by the class teacher. With the programme aims in mind Mrs Brunnock will 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.  

Supporting – not fixing 

Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children’s problems. What we 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.  


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 recognize 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.  

So what do the children think?! 

On completion of their ELSA programmes, we ask the children to reflect on their experiences and to kindly leave us some feedback. Here are some of the lovely comments we receive:   


“I like coming to ELSA, it makes me happy!” 


“ELSA has been really fun and has helped me with making new friendships. I loved making our ELSA group shield and feeling like part of a fun team”. 


“In ELSA I feel safe to talk about my sister’s illness and to cope with my feelings”. 


“It has helped me a lot with my anger and my problems in the playground. I enjoyed it very much!”. 


“I enjoyed ELSA and I want to stay!”. 


“I found the activities fun! I especially liked, ‘My Perfect Friend’ and I loved working with my partner to make the crocodile with moving jaws out of lego”. 


“ELSA has helped me to be more motivated and focused in class”