Autism and online safety: new toolkit launched for secondary schools

Posted on 03 June 2014

Childnet today [3 June 2014] launched the STAR Toolkit, a new online safety resource that offers practical advice and teaching activities to help secondary schools explore internet safety with young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

Developed in partnership with Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future Programme, Childnet’s STAR Toolkit aims to increase the online safety knowledge of educators and empower them to support their learners to use the internet safely and positively.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, said:

“The Childnet STAR toolkit is designed to give schools the building blocks they need to develop a tailored approach to online safety for their pupils with ASD. By working with Leicester City Council and three fantastic schools in Leicester we have been able to develop a practical online toolkit that addresses the online risks faced by young people living with autism spectrum disorders, such as cyberbullying, contact by strangers and exposure to inappropriate content. Importantly, this resource is available to all UK schools free online. Through the teaching activity ideas and forum we want to encourage educators across the country to use these resources, and also to feedback and share their ideas and materials so we can collectively and collaboratively provide excellent e-safety education for young people with ASD.”

The impact of autism on online behaviours

Technology and the internet offer fantastic opportunities for young people when learning, communicating and playing. However, alongside these benefits there are many risks that young people with an ASD may be more vulnerable to. 

Carrie Grant, celebrity vocal coach and TV presenter, is supporting Childnet’s project. She said:

“As a parent of two children with autism spectrum conditions, I know the huge potential that technology offers for communication and learning, but also the challenges that young people with ASD can face when trying to navigate the internet safely. My daughters love to use the internet, but I do sometimes worry that they could be too trusting with people online. With the launch of the Childnet STAR Toolkit comes the reassurance that educators now have a resource that will help young people to develop online safety strategies for school and for home, something which is essential in today’s digital world.”

The Childnet STAR Toolkit

The aim of the Childnet STAR Toolkit is to assist teachers in educating their pupils with ASD about the internet and safeguarding them against online risks. 

The four sections SAFE, TRUST, ACTION and RESPECT all feature the concept of friendship and emphasise the importance of finding the balance between online and offline interaction. At the same time, the resource is continually promoting a positive, fun and safe experience for young people with ASD.

The online resource includes a forum to encourage educators to share their teaching ideas and how they have used and adapted the STAR Toolkit in their educational setting. This will provide a platform for sharing best practices in online safety for those working with young people with ASD.

Childnet has worked in partnership with three schools in Leicester to create this toolkit; Ellesmere College, West Gate School and Nether Hall School. Jill Moult, a teacher at West Gate School, said:

“Teaching internet safety to young people with autism spectrum disorders can be a real challenge. This toolkit will really empower school staff to support young people with ASD to make good choices and keep themselves safe online.”

Launch event in Leicester

The Childnet STAR Toolkit will be launched on the evening of the 3rd June at an event held at the New Walk Museum in Leicester.

The event will be a chance for educators and industry experts to hear more about how the resource was created and the online experiences of young people with autism spectrum disorders.

The event will be opened by Leicester’s assistant city mayor with responsibility for children, young people and schools, Councillor Vi Dempster, who has highlighted the importance of the resource for schools in Leicester. She said:

 “I’m really pleased to be launching this innovative resource as part of our commitment to transform learning through the Building Schools for the Future programme."

“It’s vitally important that we keep young people safe online. This resource will help to tackle some of the challenges involved in ensuring young learners who could be more vulnerable are aware of the risks.”

“It will help make sure that all our learners get the chance to benefit from the many positive learning opportunities the internet can offer.”

 

– Ends –

Press contact

For press enquiries and event images contact Hannah Broadbent on 0207 639 6967 or [email protected].

Notes to editors

  • About Childnet

Childnet is a UK-based charity that aims to make the internet a great and safe place for children. Every year Childnet delivers education sessions to thousands of children, parents, carers and teachers throughout the UK. Childnet also offers a range of educational resources to help children stay safe online, including resources for schools and families. As one of the three charity partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet helps to coordinate Safer Internet Day in the UK, which was supported by the Prime Minister and over 650 organisations this year. Childnet are active in the policy space and sit on Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board and the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

  • About the STAR Toolkit

The STAR Toolkit offers practical advice and teaching activities to help secondary schools explore online safety with young people with an autism spectrum disorders.

It is available free of charge for secondary schools across the UK at:

www.childnet.com/STAR

Childnet was commissioned to deliver this toolkit through Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future Programme, working closely with three schools in Leicester to create the resource.

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