Who are ELSA trained at Horizon?
The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) project was originally developed within Southampton then Hampshire by Sheila Burton, Educational Psychologist. It was designed to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils from within their own resources. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.
ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists who apply psychological knowledge of children’s social and emotional development to particular areas of need and to specific casework.
Over recent years there has been increased recognition of the impact of social and emotional aspects of learning on academic attainment in schools. The Children Act 2004 (Every Child Matters) recognised that schools need to be concerned with the all round development of children.
All children should be nurtured in accordance with their individual needs. There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning, and some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others.
Horizon Primary academy's ELSA trained staff are Debbie Stoner and Helen Rawlinson-Rowbotham. Both members of staff have undertaken 6 full days of training delivered by educational psychologists on aspects aspects of emotional literacy including emotional awareness, self-esteem, anger management, social and friendship skills, social communication difficulties, loss, bereavement and family break-up. ELSAs receive supervision from educational psychologists once every half term in a local group of either primary or secondary ELSAs. ELSAs may also receive some additional individual support from their supervisor if needed, usually via email or telephone contact. A school may also ask an educational psychologist working with their school to advise the ELSA on how to support a pupil for whom there is particular concern.
An ELSA needs to:
There has been consistent feedback from schools across the UK that the introduction of ELSAs has made a significant positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of children and young people. It has supported staff development, with ELSAs frequently commenting on the impact training has had on them, personally as well as professionally.
The following comment was made by Victoria Syed, an ELSA in Wandsworth, "I feel the ELSA training reinforced my belief in acknowledging children's feelings. It inspired me to offer the children opportunities to express their feelings and describe their emotions. It has been a positive learning experience in both my professional and personal life and has reminded me of what the essence of our daily life is."
Evaluation has been carried out in a variety of ways yielding both qualitative and quantitative evidence of its effectiveness. The findings from evaluation studies in various local authorities may be found on the local pages within the 'ELSA Around the UK' section of this website. Local newsletters include accounts of positive pupil outcomes arising from ELSA support. There is now an increasing amount of doctoral level research being undertaken to investigate outcomes of ELSA practice.