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Emotional Literacy Support Assistant training (ELSA)

The ELSA programme builds the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils.


We are excited to be able to offer the next Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) training to Suffolk Schools. The nationwide ELSA programme was designed to build the capacity of schools to support the emotional needs of their pupils, from within their own settings and with their own resources. It recognises that children learn better when they are happier in school, and if their emotional needs are also addressed.

Through training and supervision, the school will have their own ELSAs who are skilled to support young people through their own interventions. The training covers emotional literacy and awareness, self-esteem, active listening and communication skills, understanding and managing anger, social skills, friendship skills and therapeutic stories.

ELSAs are usually teaching assistants or learning support assistants. They need to have high levels of empathy and also be interested in building supportive relationships with children and young people experiencing emotional difficulties. Click here to read the ELSA Person Specification and Job Description (PDF, 112KB).

ELSAs receive six days of training. All training days are from 09.30 to 15.30. ELSAs will require time to plan their sessions for children and young people, and the support from their schools to do so. It is preferable to have two ELSAs in a setting, to allow them to support each other in what can be a demanding but rewarding role.

After the training ELSAs commit to regular (approximately half termly) supervision, which is led by educational psychologists (EPs). This will allow for any casework to be discussed and will focus on supporting the ELSAs to develop their own roles within their schools.

For details of the next training available and costs, please contact the Psychology and Therapeutic Services team at Psychology&


  • Having an ELSA in your school will mean you are able to offer interventions and planned programmes of support to children experiencing emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.
  • Because an ELSA is part of your staff, these interventions can be proactive and support the emotional wellbeing of children and young people at a lower level.
  • Having an ELSA in your school means that you have a member of staff who is receiving ongoing supervision from educational psychologists, to discuss and support the children they are working with within your setting.
  • There has been consistent feedback from schools across the UK that ELSAs have made a significant positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of children and young people.
  • The ELSA programme supports staff development, with ELSAs frequently commenting on the impact that training has on them, both personally and professionally.
The ELSA training equipped me with the confidence to support children and young people in acknowledging their feelings, which has developed my skills when planning and delivering effective interventions.
ELSA provides access to EPs who share excellent ideas, inspiration and useful practical tools / activities.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)