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Pastoral Interventions

Key mentors


ELSA  (Emotional literacy support assisstant)

What is an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA)?

There will always be 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 addressed.  ELSA’s try to help children feel happy in school and to reach their potential educationally.  Their aim is to help remove the barriers to learning and to have happy children in both school and at home.

We have two qualified ELSA’s at Fernbrook, Michelle Shepherd and Sam Sprules.  They have been trained and are regularly supervised by Educational Psychologists.

ELSA’s can help with:

  • Recognising emotions
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Friendships & relationships
  • Anger management
  • Anxiety
  • Loss and bereavement

ELSA's aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings.

The ELSA will plan their sessions very carefully and will always begin with an emotional check in - this is the opportunity for your child to talk about their feelings and worries.

Support sessions are planned to facilitate the developing of new skills and coping strategies that allow children to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.  Sessions will be once a week and will usually last 30 - 45 minutes.

Supporting not fixing

ELSA's are not there to fix children's problems. What they can do is provide emotional support.

Change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and is dependent upon the complexity of the 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 need.

Training and development of ELSA's is an ongoing process.  The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA's, and is able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.

Thrive Practitioner

Based on neuroscience and attachment theory, the Thrive Approach offers a dynamic, developmental, trauma sensitive approach that helps us interpret the behaviour and meet the emotional and social needs of our young people. The Thrive Approach can make learning more accessible more effective and more fun.

The Thrive Approach equips the pupils to work in either individual targeted ways or group targeted ways, to promote re-engagement with life and learning.

Karen Goldup is the Thrive Practitioner for Fernbrook , and we will be training additional members of staff throughout the  new academic year.

The Thrive approach together with Thrive online helps us to support our pupils  make better choices for better lives.

 In the Thrive Approach we use a developmental model to help us understand how we develop socially and emotionally from birth through to adulthood. This model gives us the framework for understanding what healthy child development looks like in terms of behaviour and learning and clarifies what the role of adults should be in facilitating a child’s development at each of the different stages. In addition, the model gives us a lens through which to look at and interpret children’s behaviour, enabling us to identify the particular development needs being signalled by their behaviour and to choose appropriate, targeted interventions designed to meet those needs.

To find out more about the Thrive Approach please visit: