ELSA: Information and Support

What is ELSA?

The ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) project was originally developed by Sheila Burton, an 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.

ELSAs are Emotional Literacy Support Assistants. They are teaching assistants who have received specific additional training from educational psychologists on 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 continue to receive ongoing supervision following their training. Their role is to support children and young people in school setting by helping them to understand and regulate their emotions,  whilst also respecting the feelings of those around them.


The ELSA Network supports and assists ELSAs in their valuable work, as well as helping area co-ordinators to publicise ELSA work in their locality. Many local authorities across England and Wales now have ELSAs in their schools.










This is an essential resource for educators working to support emotional well-being in children and young people. Written by the team behind the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) training programme, it provides practical suggestions that can be implemented straight away to make a positive difference in the life of the young person.

The second edition of this bestselling guide has been fully updated and includes a new chapter on resilience as well as additional material on recognising and dealing with anxiety and anger. The chapters give a clear overview of each topic underpinned by the latest research in educational psychology, descriptions of vulnerabilities as well as case studies and suggestions for practical activities.


Topics include:


  • self-esteem;

  • friendship skills;

  • social skills;

  • therapeutic stories;

  • dealing with loss and bereavement.


Designed for use with individuals, groups or whole classes, this will be vital reading for ELSA trainees as well as anyone wanting to provide the best possible support for the emotional well-being of the young people they work with.


Click on the images below to purchase. (affiliate)

ELSA Handbook
ELSA Trainer's Manual