At St Nicholas’ we are very fortunate to have two ELSA trained members of staff. The aim of an ELSA is to remove any barriers to learning and to have happy children in school and at home.
Our Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) received specialist training from Hampshire's Educational Child Psychologists to qualify as ELSAs. They plan and deliver programmes of support to children at St Nicholas’ who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs.  ELSA support programmes are delivered in a caring, supportive and fun way.  We will try to help children find ways to cope with their individual challenges by helping them build the skills that will help them be able to cope and work through any issues.
The majority of ELSA work is expected to be delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work will be appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills.

ELSA as a time limited intervention
Rather than using an ELSA as part of a child’s permanent support structure, it is better to see the intervention as time-limited to assist the development of specific skills, usually up to six weeks. 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 children who may need this.
Change as a result of ELSA
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. It needs 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. The supervising Educational Psychologist would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.
How long should ELSA involvement last?
Most programmes would last for six weeks. If they go on longer than this may create over-dependency upon the ELSA. An ELSA programme is not expected to ‘fix’ every need a child has. It should have a specific focus. Once the programme aims have been met, it may be appropriate to move from a planned programme to some informal follow-up support while the pupil generalises new learning into the wider school context. This maintenance support would involve seeing the child less frequently or more briefly than during the programme itself.
Where should ELSA work be done?
Children need a quiet space that affords some degree of privacy – at St Nicholas’, we use Room 0 in the Main Building for ELSA sessions. The pupils need to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and feelings, which might include some sensitive information about themselves and their personal circumstances. Meeting in the same place each time creates a sense of security.




Everyone at St Nicholas’ wants to help your child feel happy in school and to reach their potential educationally.

ELSA's can help with: Recognising emotions
Loss and bereavement
Social skills
Managing emotions
Friendship issues
Anger management
Relaxation techniques

What degree of confidentiality should an ELSA observe?
ELSAs are not counsellors and do not need to follow such strict confidentiality guidelines. The key point is respect for children. Liaison with selected other staff in school is usually beneficial. The question to ask is ‘how much do they need to know?’ A useful principle is to protect sensitive information that the child may have shared in confidence. It is respectful for an ELSA to ask a child if they may share information with others and then agree with them what will be said and to whom. The last thing an ELSA needs is to lose the child’s trust. However, the usual guidelines about safeguarding always apply of course.

Supervision for ELSAs
ELSAs receive on-going clinical supervision from Educational Psychologists every half term as part of a small group of ELSAs from other local schools. They can share resources, ideas and make sure that their training remains up to date with current Educational Psychology thinking. Within St Nicholas’ ELSAs are line managed by the Head of Curriculum Support (Mrs Helen Molloy), who along with other staff, could refer pupils who might benefit from an ELSA support programme. This referral process

tends to be achieved in consultation with teaching staff and the ELSAs themselves.

Children's priorities
The priorities for an individual child will be identified in discussion with other staff in the school. These priorities will inform the setting of aims for the programme, which are similar in nature to individual education plan targets. With the programme aims in mind the ELSA would 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. Each session has its own objective (either something the ELSA wants to achieve or something for the child to achieve) that builds towards the longer term aims.

Frequently Asked Questions
How often should an ELSA work with a child?
This will depend on the age of the child and the context of the work. Normally ELSAs plan to meet with a child weekly for half an hour at a time. It allows 

·         time to check how the child is

·         review what was done last time

·         to find out what the child has remembered or what may need to be revisited

·         to focus on the new session objective using interesting games or activities

·         to have a rounded ending that prepares the child for their return to class.

It is helpful for sessions to be at a regular time because children like to know when they will be able to be with the ELSA again.

What if my child is offered ELSA support?

You will be informed by email if your child is identified as able to benefit from ELSA support and asked to give your Consent, before any ELSA sessions start. You can, of course, contact Mrs Martin via the School Office at any time to ask for further information.