Yesterday saw the launch of the Childnet STAR Toolkit – a free online resource I was responsible for scoping and commissioning on behalf of Leicester City Council. The toolkit offers practical advice and teaching activities to help schools explore internet safety with young people on the autism spectrum. The launch took place at Leicester's New Walk Museum, in the beautifully just-refurbished Victorian Art Gallery.
The STAR toolkit is one of the Council's DigiLit Leicester projects, a professional development approach designed to make sure that staff have the confidence and skills to get the most out of the investment being made in technology for schools through the city's Building Schools for the Future Programme. Childnet worked closely with three of Leicester's BSF schools - Ellesmere College, Nether Hall School and West Gate School, to design the resource.
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 disorder, 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 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.
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Launch event in Leicester
The event was opened by Councillor Vi Dempster, Leicester’s Assistant City Mayor with responsibility for children, young people and schools. 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.”