Do you have two or more children on the autism spectrum in your Grade 5 class in NSW, Victoria, WA or Queensland in 2017?
As part of our Education Research Program, Autism CRC researchers are looking for classrooms to begin trialling a whole of classroom version of the highly successful social skills training program, the Secret Agent Society (SAS).
Drawing on the strong evidence base of SAS small group program, Autism CRC researchers have developed a whole classroom program to benefit even more children. Multiple research evaluations have demonstrated the effectiveness of SAS in helping children to build emotional and social resilience, deal with bullying and express feelings in appropriate ways. The research team has worked with staff from all school systems to identify priorities. This feedback has been used to develop a whole of classroom program that is user-friendly for staff to deliver and engaging for all students.
“It is hoped that by expanding the delivery of SAS to a whole of classroom format, all children can learn how to crack the codes of emotion management, problem-solving and friendships in a fun, engaging way. These skills will help them to achieve their own life goals and to support others to achieve theirs. We have clear evidence that the Secret Agent Society program is effective in small groups and we anticipate this will translate well into a larger whole classroom setting” said Dr Renae Beaumont, who developed the SAS program.
Representatives from all school systems expressed interest in participating in the research project in 2016. Interactive project information sessions were held with staff from each school to encourage their input into the program objectives, content, delivery format and resources. The 9-week intervention was taught to all Grade 5 students in seventeen classrooms over the course of 2016 as part of a randomised controlled trial. The program also includes a webinar for Grade 6 teachers to help students maintain their gains as they transition from Grade 5 to Grade 6 and to high school in Grade 7.
We have worked with school staff to ensure that we have developed a program which can be implemented as part of the current Australian curriculum. We are now looking for schools to trial the program in 2017. Results from the first trial have been very positive. Following the 2017 trial, we hope to make the program available to all Grade 5 students to support them to feel happier, calmer and braver to achieve their best.
The aim of the Autism CRC Education Research Program is to provide inclusive interventions, such as the whole of classroom program, which will benefit every child in the class.