Autism Friendly Schools - Expression of Interest
We hope this letter finds you well and that your school community has had a positive experience settling into this new academic year. We are excited to announce that AsIAm – Ireland’s National Autism Charity, is opening applications to new schools to join our Autism Friendly Schools Project.
In 2019 /2020, the Autism Friendly Schools Project ran as a pilot programme and recruited 96 primary and post-primary schools across the country to participate in this initiative. In 2020 / 2021, 50 of those schools returned to continue the project for a second year and 80 new schools signed up to join the project. Many of these schools have expressed a desire to continue their engagement with the project this year alongside new schools joining for the first time.
2022/2023 will be the fourth year of this exciting project, which will investigate ways in which we can further refine what it truly means to be ‘Autism Friendly’ in primary and post-primary schools across Ireland. The project will reaffirm good practice and support those wishing to foster a culture of inclusion of autistic students in their schools. The project covers 4 themes over 3 staff sessions, the first session will be in-person and two others which will be held online on the following dates throughout the year;
- Leadership & Management / Building an Inclusive Culture – Thursday 24th November 2022 (online)
- Teaching and Learning – Tuesday 7th or 8th March (in person - depending on number we may have two regional sessions)
- Staff Development – Tuesday 9th May (online)
We have recorded an “Autism Friendly Schools Project Information Webinar” which any prospective schools interested in taking part in the project can watch to learn more about the development of the project over the last number of years and gain a greater understanding of the structure of the project for this year. The webinar is available at the hyper link that follows and is approx. 30 minutes in lengths: AFS info webinar
All schools taking part in the Autism Friendly Schools Project 2022 / 2023 will have exclusive access to an online toolkit which was developed for the purpose of the project and has been rebuilt to improve accessibility. This toolkit comprises of a self-evaluation tool which schools can use to evaluate the levels of inclusion for their students across different areas of school life. Schools taking part will also be allocated a community of practice group, where they will have a chance to connect with other schools on the project to share their practice and experience. Schools taking part in the project are asked to nominate 2 staff members (1 mainstream teacher and 1 SET / support teacher) to attend the 3 sessions and the principal or deputy principal must attend the first half of Session 1 on 24th November 2022. All staff in a school that has signed up to the Autism Friendly Schools Project will receive access to a 90 minute online course designed to develop their understanding of autism.
If you believe that your students, staff and wider school community would benefit from being part of AsIAm’s Autism Friendly Schools Project, and by doing so create a more inclusive school culture, please complete the following steps:
- Fill out an application form here – https://asiam.ie/training-awards/autism-friendly-schools-programme/
- Nominate 2 staff members to represent your school at 1 in-person and two online trainings.
- Pay €300.00 participation fee before Session 1 – 24th November 2022.
All prospective schools should be aware that there will be a research element to this project, as there has been each year prior. All data compiled will be anonymized and no individual or school will be identifiable from the findings. The purpose of this research and analysis will be used to form a national perception on how primary and post-primary schools are currently engaging in autism friendly practice and explore the impact had on this practice by participating in the project.
We are both delighted and grateful to be working closely with the Educations Support Centres Ireland (ESCI) this year, a collaboration which we hope to grow over the coming months.
We wish you and your school community every success in the academic year ahead and look forward to working with your school in the future on our collective journey towards inclusion.
Adam Harris Billy Redmond Finbar Horgan
Chief Executive Officer, AsIAm Project Coordinator Education Training Officer, AsIAm