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ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support


Hello and welcome to our school ELSA page!


We are pleased to be able to share information with parents about Emotional Literacy Support on the school website. On this page we aim to post ideas and helpful advice on how you can help your child; for example in areas such as empathy, self esteem or perhaps to pick up some tips about calming techniques. Parents and carers will be able to find out about recommended books which may be useful and links to other websites for some self-help at home




What is ELSA?


There will always be children and young people 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 Dymchurch Primary - Miss Charlotte Fullick. She 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. Additionally, she is a trained 'Drawing and Talking' practitioner. 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 therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft.  ELSA sessions take place in our very own 'ELSA area' within the Crocodile 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:


Social skills
Friendship skills
Anger management
Recognising emotions
Loss and bereavement



How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher or SENCo. Every half term I meet with our SENco and/or Deputy Headteacher, to discuss the referral forms and to identify and prioritise which children require a weekly  programme for the next 6-8 weeks. With the programme aims in mind we 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 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 specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA, and is 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".


"ELSA has helped me with confidence".


"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!".


"ELSA has helped me to be more sensible in class".





*** Parents Self-Help section! ***


Here we can sign-post you to some of the different websites online which offer help and advice to parents.


Do you have an anxious child?


Follow the link below for some useful guidance on helping your child overcome anxieties:


5 ways to help with children's wellbeing?


Mentally Healthy Schools


Helping your child build self-esteem


Is your child having problems with self esteem?  Try following this link which gives some useful advice to parents:




A child with a healthy dose of self-esteem has the best defence against life's challenges


Calming anxiety and coping skills