ELSA Practitioner

The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) project was developed in 2002 by Shelia Burton to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils and recognised that children learn better when they are happy.

What does an ELSA do?

ELSA’s are specialist Teaching Assistants who have received special training from Educational Psychologists to support the emotional development of children and young people in school.  ELSA work is not therapy. An ELSA’s role is to help children and young people learn to understand their emotions and respect the feelings of those around them and to provide the time and space for pupils to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them. It is based on the view that all children are different and they should be nurtured according to their needs. Sessions are planned in advance and tailor-made to suit the needs of the student and to work on a wide variety of emotional or social difficulties such as:

  • Emotional literacy
  • Resilience
  • Attachment
  • Active Listening/Communication Skills
  • Social/Friendship Skills Interventions
  • Self-esteem
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Family Separation
  • Cognitive Behavioural Approaches
  • Growth Mindset

Elsa at Abbeyfield

Students are usually referred for ELSA intervention via our SENCo, Mrs Nicola Hathway. They will meet with our ELSA, Mrs Lorraine Thorburn, in a 1:1 session or as part of a small group. The programme usually takes place over 6 weeks, with each weekly session lasting approximately 45 minutes. The sessions take place in a designated area where children can feel relaxed and comfortable. Outcomes are carefully planned and monitored to develop skills and coping strategies that will help young people in managing social and emotional demands more positively and effectively.


Mrs Nicola Hathway



Mrs Lorraine Thorburn

ELSA Practitioner