St Joseph's Rotherhithe

Wellbeing- ELSA

Emotional Literacy Support


Some children find the social and emotional aspects of school life more difficult than others; for them, at St Joseph's, have emotional support provided by trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs). They support children’s social and emotional needs, providing individual and group‐based support around social skills and making friends, anger management, learning to cope with difficult family circumstances and other areas of need.


What is ELSA?

The ELSA was 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 children and teenagers in their care. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.


At our school, we have two trained ELSAs who offer emotional support to our children. They are supported by educational psychologists, who apply their professional knowledge of children’s social and emotional development to areas of need experienced by pupils. Southwark’s Educational Psychologist team provide on-going professional supervision to help maintain high quality in the work undertaken by the two ELSAs at St Joseph’s, thereby helping to ensure safe practice for ELSAs and pupils alike.


How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher – with parents being consulted as part of this process. The referral will identify a key area to focus on and one or two realistic targets for the child to work towards.

When a slot becomes available, children will meet with our ELSA each week for a period of 6 weeks.

It is important to note that ELSA is not an ongoing programme of support although there may be occasions when we are able to offer more than one programme to a child.

Sessions are designed to be enjoyable and fun and may take the form of games, craft, role-play, cartoon strips, videos and puppets depending on the child’s preferences. Some programmes are delivered individually and some in a small group where children can learn from each other’s experiences.


Who is ELSA for?

Any child who may have temporary or longer-term emotional needs. These could be related to:

  • Anxiety and worries
  • Self-esteem, confidence, positive thinking
  • Feelings and emotions
  • Friendships and relationships
  • Understanding and regulating emotions
  • Loss, bereavement and family separation


Our ELSAs aim to provide emotional support and equip our children with some skills to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
They aim to establish a warm, respectful relationships with pupils and provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly.

It is important to understand that change cannot be achieved rapidly and is dependent on the context and complexity of a child’s issues. Some concerns may require more specialist support.