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ELSA Support Sessions In Schools

Posted by Melissa Quinney on Jan 12, 2024 11:13:45 AM

We are hearing more and more about schools and other educational providers improving their support services by offering ELSA Intervention Sessions. But what is an ELSA? What is ELSA support? Read on to find out what an ELSA's role is, what areas are covered in support and our interview with Mrs Purkis, an expert ELSA who runs her support sessions in one of our outdoor classrooms! 


What is an ELSA?


An ELSA is an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. They work to support children and young people in a wide range of areas, such as mental health and processing emotions, helping them to reach their potential and cope with a variety of challenges.

ELSAs are experts, usually with many years of experience working with children/young people. When somebody becomes an ELSA, they are supervised by Educational Psychologists for good practice.

What areas does an ELSA help with?


  • Self-esteem
  • Social Skills
  • Friendships
  • Conflict Management
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Bullying
  • Low Moods
  • Anxiety
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Family relationships

And the list goes on!

ELSA support in schools

In order to receive ELSA Intervention, children and young people are usually referred by their other teachers, parents, the school SENCO or other external agencies. 

Recently, we visited Asfordby Hill Primary School, one of the fantastic schools who chose Cabins for Schools to design and install a new school building. We were eager to speak to the staff and students to find out how they were using their new outdoor eco classroom and to see the huge positive impacts our builds are making at educational institutions around the country. We spoke to the wonderful ELSA (Jo Purkiss) at Asfordby Hill Primary School who uses their Cabins for Schools Outdoor Eco Classroom for ELSA Intervention and nurture sessions.

Jo described her role as being to help children work through different emotions that they feel. She said…

‘In ELSA sessions, we talk about emotions, but it’s not just ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ - it’s everything from a child’s behaviour, anxiety, separation disorders, bereavement or when they just need to talk to someone to work through something. There’s lots of different things which come under the umbrella.’ 


Naturally, we wanted to find out more! We had some questions for Jo...

What types of activities do you do in ELSA sessions?

‘We come into our cabin where it’s a nice safe space and usually play a game like Crocodile Dentist which makes the children laugh and it gets them to feel comfortable. We have a look at emotions so we use Play Doh and different emotions on faces printed out and we look at what emotion we see to see if we can recognise that emotion and whether we can see it in ourselves when we’re feeling that emotion. With anger, we work through different steps so we identify the triggers and then work through different strategies to calm ourselves down and take ourselves to our safe space.'

ELSA support in schools

What is one of the most common areas you cover in ELSA sessions & what do you do to support the children with it?

‘We talk about self-esteem a lot. There’s quite a lot of self-esteem issues at the moment, I think due to the negative impacts of Covid-19. A lot of children are unfortunately feeling not so good about themselves. I’m here to try and look at their strengths and identify what we can work on together each week to make positive changes and help the children to manage. It could be that they require strategies to make themselves feel more involved in group situations rather than feeling alone. I get children to recognise and understand their self-worth rather than just telling them what it is that I see in them. They need to recognise what’s going on from within for themselves.’ 

How has having a cabin impacted your ELSA sessions?

‘Before we had The Pod, last year, I was all over the place. I had a box of all of my resources and activities and I had to cart it around the whole school. Sometimes, sessions were in the library which is open plan and not ideal for the children. They need to have a safe spot where they can open up and be free with themselves, which is exactly what our outdoor classroom provides.’


Is your school looking to create a designated space for ELSA support sessions, nurture groups or intervention? Chat to one of our experts today and find out how Cabins for Schools can design and install the ultimate build to facilitate this!

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Topics: schools, outdoorlearning, forestschools, cabins for schools, Multi-Function Space For Schools, Log Cabin, Inclusive Spaces, library