The ELSA project is now in its second year in Birmingham, and is currently recruiting for its second cohort of ELSAs.
ELSA stands for Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (not to be confused with the Disney Princess)! ELSAs are school support staff (teaching assistants or learning mentors) who have undergone the ‘ELSA’ programme of training by Educational Psychologists, and who are supervised as part of their work by our friendly group of EPs. They work alongside EPs, and the SENCos in their schools to support the emotional development of children and young people. They assess, plan and run individual and group interventions, and have group supervision half-termly with other ELSAs in their area where they can share ideas and resources, and problem-solve together. The ELSA programme has been widely adopted as an evidence-based early intervention for children and young people in over 100 local authorities in the U.K.
Most ELSA programmes will last for 6 to 12 weeks, helping the pupil to learn some specific new skills or coping strategies. The ELSA isn’t there to ‘fix’ the child, and for pupils with complex or long-term needs, ELSA support won’t resolve all their difficulties. What ELSAs are able to do is provide emotional support and implement planned, specific interventions. As they establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil they provide a reflective space where the pupil is able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings, and be supported to better understand their difficulties and develop different skills.
There is probably already someone in your school that fits this bill; the TA or learning mentor that the children go to instinctively when they need help and support, and who can get even the shyest children laughing and smiling! The ELSA project is a way for them to expand their tool-kit, and to maximise their impact and efficiency, as well as meet other ELSAs and work together as a group.
What does the training include?
Over the course of six days of training, ELSAs are taught how help children develop an awareness of their own and other people’s emotions, how to help children manage stress, grief, anger and conflict, develop social interaction skills, self-concept and self-esteem, and work together in groups. ELSA provision within schools can help lower exclusion rates, promote emotional well-being and improve academic outcomes. An on-going cost consideration is that ELSAs need to be continually supervised by an EP; we know that it is this group supervision that the ELSAs value the most and has a significant contribution to their effectiveness over time.
What costs are associated with the training?
The EP service has received funding so the first two cohorts of ELSAs only pay a reduced rate of £325, which covers six days of training, two ELSA manuals and four group supervision sessions. The second cohort is currently being recruited and will start training in January.
Who do I contact for further information?
For further information, or to sign up for ELSA, please contact either Carrie Stewart (EP ELSA South) on Carrie.Stewart@birmingham.gov.uk or Taniqua Woods (Assistant EP), Taniqua.Woods@birmingham.gov.uk