Quick Links

Quick Links

'Do unto others as you would have them do to you'. (Mt 7.12)

St Matthew's Primary

Friendship • Discovery • Prayer


ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)

What is an ELSA

The ELSA project is an initiative designed to help schools meet the needs of emotionally vulnerable pupils within the resources of the school.

 An ELSA plans and delivers individual and small group support programmes for children who are identified within school as likely to benefit from additional help to support their social and emotional development.


Mrs Sullivan is our school’s ELSA. As a specialist teaching assistant; she has worked with children with emotional needs over many years ensuring that children are happy in school and are able to reach their potential educationally by removing the emotional barriers to learning.


Mrs Sullivan provides support for children with emotional issues such as loss and bereavement, low self-esteem, friendship and relationship issues, anxiety and worries, bullying and conflict, anger management and separation.


ELSA sessions usually run as a regular slot during the school week for around 30 to 45 minutes. The sessions are tailored to meet each child’s individual needs. Sessions are fun and might include role-play, puppets, board games, art and craft and stories. They include time to talk and for children to be heard. A pupil’s progress is reviewed on a half-termly basis.


Theraplay (Sunshine Circles)


Sunshine Circles is a specific type of circle time that uses the power of play as a mechanism for enhancing the emotional well-being and social skills of children; the programme is specifically designed to encourage positive friendships and to develop confidence, self-esteem and resilience. These nurturing sessions are adult led, structured, playful and interactive and provide experiences that support children’s healthy development and learning.


Mrs Sullivan is trained to run our Sunshine Circles sessions and has a wealth of experience supporting children with emotional needs. 


Each session lasts between 20-30 minutes and are carefully planned to meet the needs of individual children as well as the group.


The rules for the sessions are established at the start and the children are reminded at each session:

1) No hurts (helps children feel safe and secure).

2) Stick together (helps children to feel wanted and connected to others).

3) Have Fun! (motivates children to be involved and to interact).


Each session starts with a “Check In.” This involves the adult welcoming each child and giving them individual attention; noticing and commenting on their unique qualities


Games are planned that help children move between excited and calm play; to provide opportunities to take turns and wait for a turn; to co-operate with one another; to provide comfort and nurture, to develop trust and to respect each other’s differences.


A snack is always used towards the end of the session. This is used as a nurturing activity giving the children the opportunity to receive from and give to others. Simple snacks are used such as grapes, Pom Bears, hula hoops or raisins (a risk assessment is made to highlight any allergies).

More about Theraplay