The enormous contribution made to school life by Pembrokeshire’s teaching assistants was praised in a celebration event this week at County Hall.
The event was designed to highlight the important work they do, and also recognise the success of the LSAs who have undertaken additional training and development programmes.
Among them were a recently-trained cohort of ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants) who provide emotional and mental health support for pupils identified as likely to benefit from help to develop their wellbeing and resilience.
The ELSA training programme is run by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Educational Psychology Service.
The Service has trained in the range of 100 ELSAs over the last four years, meaning there is at least one ELSA in almost every school.
Earlier this year, the County Council also launched an ELSA training programme through the medium of Welsh – the first local authority in Wales to do so – and it will be introducing an Early Years version in Spring 2019.
Sue Priestnall, Educational Psychologist, told the ELSAs: “So many of you are not simply doing a job but are going out of your way to support your young people – to use your own psychological understanding to help them develop the skills they need to build their resilience and manage the social and emotional issues that often throw them completely out of kilter and obstruct their access to academic learning.”
Hayli Gibson, Lead for Early Years, told the LSAs: “You will hear today how the fantastic work you do with children makes such a difference to both children and staff in your schools.
“What we also need to remember is how those children impact our own lives, and provide us with rich sometimes life or career changing experiences.
“You are now sector leading ambassadors who have the chance to make a real difference.
The celebration event also highlighted the work undertaken by the county’s ALN (Additional Learning Needs) champions, who work in schools throughout Pembrokeshire.
Nichola Jones, Inclusion Manager, said: “Two years ago we joined with Trinity University to put on a conference for learning support assistants working with children and young people with additional learning needs.
“The room was filled with support workers from nearly every school in the county and was a real signal of the commitment not only of the staff but the leadership teams who released them to attend.
“As a result of the feedback that day, the Council’s Inclusion Service launched the first training programme. Feedback from the participants indicated that it has been an overwhelming success.”
Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet member for Education and Lifelong Learning Councillor David Lloyd agreed:
“It was a great privilege to have been part of this ground-breaking award ceremony.
“The obvious pride that the award winners rightly took in their achievements radiated across the room.
“Everybody present shared in their success raising the profile of our previously unsung heroes.
“They will all take a new-found self-confidence into the classroom to the considerable benefit of our children.
“Well done all.”
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of certificates to the ALN champions and ELSAs by Cllr Josh Beynon, champion for wellbeing in Pembrokeshire.
Pictured are Pembrokeshire’s recently qualified ALN champions with Nichola Jones, Cllr David Lloyd and Cllr Josh Beynon.
Pembrokeshire’s most recent cohort of qualified ELSAs are pictured with Nichola Jones, Cllr David Lloyd and Cllr Josh Beynon.