Thrive Online: a project to support and empower young people with SEND in their online lives and relationships.

Posted on 22 March 2021

Childnet are happy to announce that we are in the early stages of a two-year project, supported by Google.org. Thrive Online is designed to support young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in managing and making the most of their online lives and relationships.

We recognise that young people with SEND are often not included in online safety conversations and at Childnet we want to ensure that all young people are equipped with the skills, confidence and support they need to thrive online. Young people are spending more time online than ever before and the COVID -19 pandemic has only heightened this. We want all young people to enjoy positive online experiences and we know that young people with SEND require tailor made support to help them manage life online. At Childnet we also recognise that there is a need for educators and parents and carers to have the necessary guidance to support young people with SEND online.

What does Thrive Online involve?

Within this exciting project, we will develop resources, including brand new videos, for educators as well as a toolkit for parents and carers covering the topics of healthy relationships, digital wellbeing and online pornography. These resources will enable both educators and parents to support young people with SEND online confidently.

We will also build upon our existing Digital Leaders platform to ensure that we have a platform suitable for the needs of young people with special educational needs and to support them in becoming online safety peer educators.  

These resources will all be developed with secondary age pupils in mind. Young peoples’ voices and online experiences will be at the heart of this project and feed directly into the resources developed.

To find out more about Thrive Online, watch the project video developed with the help of Google here.

At the end of 2020 Childnet launched the STAR toolkit, a teaching resource for educators working with young people with SEND to support them online. The STAR toolkit covers the topics of Safe sharing, Trust, Action and Respect. We have received feedback from educators that the resource is ‘current, looks great and the resources are engaging and motivating’ along with the activities being ‘relevant and accessible’.

We are happy to be building upon our work in this field and are excited that our Thrive Online project will offer further, tailor-made online safety education with a focus on online relationships for young people with SEND at secondary age.

What stage is the Thrive Online project at now?

We are working directly with educators, parents and carers and other organisations who have done work in this area to inform the resources that we are at the early stages of developing. We have been hearing in focus groups with parent and teacher groups about the positive impact of the online world as well as the challenges that young people with SEND face online. We also plan to hear directly from young people over the coming months as we develop these resources.  

Opportunity for educators and pupils at SEND schools to get involved

We are keen to work directly with educators and young people throughout this project to ensure that the support we offer around the online lives of young people with SEND is built upon their real experiences.

Please do get in touch at [email protected] if you are an educator who would like to be involved alongside your pupils in the development of these important resources. Your input would be invaluable and we would love to work with you.

We will be piloting the resources in the new academic year so are currently looking for special educational needs schools who would like to be involved in this process. Please do get in touch if you would like more information about this opportunity.

Digital Leaders Programme opportunities

As part of Thrive Online, we will be developing new Digital Leader training modules around the topics of healthy relationships, digital wellbeing and online pornography, specifically tailored for Digital Leaders with SEND. We want the empowerment and leadership opportunities that the Digital Leaders programme provides to be accessible for all school settings and all pupils.

If you are a Special Educational Needs school already subscribed to the Digital Leaders programme, we would really like to hear your feedback on how your pupils find the current Digital Leader modules as well as your experiences of broaching the new module topics with your pupils. If you are the Digital Leader teacher at an SEN setting, we would really appreciate if you could provide your feedback in this 20 minute survey. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X59ZRFQ  Your feedback will directly inform the new module development.  Get in touch at [email protected] if you have any questions at all about completing the survey. 

We also have an opportunity for Digital Leader teachers and their teams to help inform the new module development and access these modules first as part of our piloting process.  Get in touch at [email protected] if you would like to find out more about this opportunity.

If you are not yet subscribed to the Digital Leaders Programme, you can do so now to then be able to take part in the piloting of these new modules. With pupils now returning to school, it is currently a great time to subscribe to the programme. For more information on how the Digital Leaders Programme works take a look at the ‘How it Works’ page. Get in touch at [email protected] if you have any questions about running the programme in your school.

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