Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, joined over 60 Emotional Literacy Support Assistants – known as ELSAs –at Highlands College last week for their annual conference. They met to continue their professional development and celebrate the graduation of 23 of newly qualified ELSAs.
There are now a total of 100 ELSAs, who work in schools across the Island to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils in both primary and secondary schools.
ELSAs provide individual and group sessions for students who need support with emotional literacy, mental health, social skills, and emotional wellbeing. This could include students with special educational needs or disabilities, or students who are experiencing bereavement or other challenges.
ELSAs have worked in schools for the last 8 years. During that time, regular group supervision and ongoing continuous professional development sessions have been introduced, and as well as an annual ELSA conference.
Tasneem (Tess) Gilani, Principal Educational Psychologist, and Service Manager for the Psychology and Wellbeing team, said: “Emotional Literacy Support Assistants provide a vital service in schools: emotional literacy is the cornerstone of developing emotional resilience and wellbeing and when this is in place then students can participate fully in all aspects of school life.
“Events like today are so important as because they allow the whole Educational Psychology team to connect with the whole ELSA network. They also give ELSAs the opportunity to learn from each other, and to stay up to date with Island-wide initiatives within Education and the Inclusion service. I would like to thank the Minister for joining us: her presence demonstrates to the team how valued their work is in our schools.”
Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, said: “I would like to thank all the ELSAs I spoke to, for helping me learn more about the valuable work they do. For some children and young people, speaking with an ELSA gives them the tools and skills they need to thrive. For other children, speaking with an ELSA might be the first step into getting more support, including from school-based counsellor or CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).
“Either way, ELSAs are vital part of the whole network of mental health support available for children and young people.”