In our school, as well as offering an exciting and varied curriculum, we also strive to develop the children’s social and emotional literacy.  Emotional literacy is the term used to describe the ability to understand and express feelings. It involves having self-awareness and recognition of one’s own feelings and knowing how to manage them. Teaching emotional literacy is important for developing self-confidence, boosting self-esteem and developing healthy relationships. One of the many ways in which we do this is through our ELSA program, which is led by Ms. Hayes. 

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 fully qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Grands Vaux. She has been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programs of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. 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 and arts and craft.  ELSA sessions take place in our very own ‘ELSA 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:

Recognising emotions


Social skills

Friendship skills 

Anger management

Loss and bereavement

How does ELSA work? 

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or on occasion the SENCo. If you believe you child could benefit from ELSA you can speak with your child’s class teacher. Every half term we meet with our Deputy Head to discuss the referral forms and to identify and prioritise which children require a weekly program. With the program aims in mind, we 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 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 needs. Training and development of ELSA’s 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 Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.