Alexander First School

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The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) intervention is designed to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils from within their own resources. This is achieved by training teaching assistants to develop and deliver individualised support programmes to meet the emotional needs of the pupils in our care. 


It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. 


Alexander First School’s ELSAs:


  • Have a warm personality and are able to stay calm under pressure
  • Are able to gain the confidence of children who are behaviourally challenging or socially withdrawn
  • Are happy to work independently and show initiative
  • Are creative in planning interventions and efficient in recording ELSA work
  • Are eager to learn and develop new skills


ELSA is supported by our Educational Psychologist (Dr Holly Harris), who applies her professional knowledge of children’s social and emotional development to areas of need experienced by pupils. Dr Harris provides on-going professional supervision to help maintain high quality in the work undertaken by Alexander First School ELSAs, thereby helping to ensure safe practice for ELSAs and pupils alike.


Rather than using an ELSA as part of a pupil’s permanent support structure, it is better to see the intervention as time-limited to assist the development of specific skills, usually up to a term. Once new skills are acquired, time needs to be allowed for consolidation. Further intervention towards additional aims could be considered at a later date if desired. As an ELSA is part of the permanent staff within school, some informal contact may be maintained for a time to enable graduated withdrawal of support for those pupils who may need this.


The role title of ELSA may only legitimately be used by people who:


  • Have attended (or are currently attending) a full ELSA training course delivered by one or more fully qualified educational psychologists (courses lasting a minimum of 5 but more usually 6 days)
  • Regularly attend half-termly supervision in small groups (with a recommended maximum of 8 ELSAs per group and duration of 2 hours per session), led by a qualified educational psychologist
  • Are currently delivering bespoke programmes of support to individual pupils and sometimes small groups