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St Mark’s Primary School

"'Let Your Light Shine' Matthew 5:16"




The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) initiative was developed and supported by educational psychologists. It was designed to build the capacity of schools to help support the emotional needs of pupils from within the school, achieved by training school members to develop and deliver individualised programmes.


‘Children learn better and are happier at school if their emotional needs are also addressed.’ (ELSA Network, 2017).


This is now widely implemented by educational psychologists across the UK.


So, what is an ELSA?


An ELSA is a member of staff trained to support children in the development of their emotional literacy.


What is emotional literacy?

  • Understanding and coping with feelings about ourselves and others.
  • Developing high self-esteem and positive interactions with others.
  • Being emotionally literate helps children to be calmer, possibly happier and to focus better on their learning.


 Some of the areas the ELSA may work on:

  • Recognising emotions
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Friendship skills
  • Anger management
  • Loss and Bereavement



How does the ELSA work?

  • Children are offered a regular slot during the school week for 20-30 minutes. These sessions last from 5 – 8 weeks.
  • Sessions can be individual or in a small group and tailored to the child’s individual needs.
  • Sessions are fun and might include role-play, puppets, board games, art and craft and stories.
  • They include time for talk and time for listening.
  • A pupil’s progress is reviewed on a termly timescale.
  • Children are Motivated and guided to overcome obstacles to their emotional well-being and mental health.


Supporting - not fixing

ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems, they are there to provide emotional support. An ELSA aims to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and provide a reflective safe space where they are able to share 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.

The 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 counselling, therapy or to CAMHS.

An Educational Psychologist provides regular supervision sessions with an ELSA and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.

The ELSA at St Mark’s school is Miss Coldwell, who has a wealth of experience working with children. Miss Coldwell works closely with all staff to nurture and support children’s emotional well-being. To access this service, teachers, support staff, parents and children themselves can make a referral.

Please feel welcome to contact the class teacher or Miss Coldwell via the office if you have any concerns about your child.