Ascent Academies Trust stages specially adapted activities to look at risks associated with using the web

Thursday, 16th March 2017

Ascent Academies Trust stages specially adapted activities to look at risks associated with using the web

CYBER savvy students have been learning to be ‘SMART’ when it comes to staying safe on-line.

CYBER savvy students have been learning to be ‘SMART’ when it comes to staying safe on-line.

Hundreds of pupils across The Ascent Academies Trust took part in a full day of specially adapted activities to look at risks associated with using the internet and on-line social media.

The Trust, which incorporates The Portland Academy, Sunderland, Barbara Priestman Academy, Sunderland, Hope Wood Academy, Easington, The New Bridge Academy, Sunderland and Ash Trees Academy, Billingham, supports learning for students aged from two to 19 with special educational needs including moderate to severe learning difficulties, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome and autism.

The cyber project looked at the five on-line SMART rules: being safeand not giving out personal details online; drawing attention to the risks associated with meeting someone on-line; highlighting the risks of accepting emails, pictures and text messages from people you don’t know; remembering that not all information found online is reliable; and encouraging children to tell someone if something on-line makes them feel uncomfortable.

Its approach took them through a range of activities including friendship parties, sensory stories, games, a short film production and animation.

Ascent Academies Trust lead for creative technologies Pete Wells, who organised the event, said: “This is the first time that we have held a trust wide cyber safety day across all five of our academies.

“Our students can be among the most vulnerable in society, with many susceptible to taking things at face value and having little awareness of stranger danger. It is extremely important that they know how to stay safe on-line.”

Activities at The Portland Academy included sixth form pupils producing short films on stranger danger and cyber bullying, students with profound and multiple learning disabilities enjoying a sensory tale of friendship, Year 10 and 11 pupils using role play and Makaton signing to identify friends and strangers and Year 7 students taking part in a friendship party.

At Barbara Priestman Academy sixth form pupils created craft style animation films on complex on-line issues including cyber bullying, Facebook posting and sexting and also filmed a news broadcast on the risks associated with social media, while at Hope Wood Academy Year 7 pupils learnt how to separate fact from fiction before being presented with their cyber safe certificates.

Hope Wood Academy IT lead Mark McNichol added: “We have a mixed moderate learning difficulty group who are all internet users in some way shape or form.

“It is important that we teach our students that not everything they see online may be true by using subtle ways rather than scare tactics.”