In April 2021, Ofsted were asked by the government to undertake a rapid review of sexual harassment in schools and colleges, after anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse were published on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’.
The review included visits to 32 schools and colleges, where inspectors spoke to over 900 children and young people about the prevalence of sexual harassment, online abuse and sexual violence in their lives and the lives of their peers.
Around 9 in 10 of the girls Ofsted spoke to said that sexist name calling and being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes. Inspectors were also told that boys talk about whose ‘nudes’ they have and share them among themselves like a ‘collection game’, typically on platforms like WhatsApp or Snapchat.
Ofsted have advised teachers to be more vigilant and says schools will fail inspections if they cannot show that they are tackling the issue.
Teaching about Sexual Abuse in the context of Relationships and Sex Education
Ofsted found that most children felt that the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) they received didn’t give them the information and advice they needed to navigate the reality of their lives. Girls were frustrated that there wasn’t clear teaching of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and many had turned to social media or their peers to educate each other. One female pupil told inspectors, ‘It shouldn’t be our responsibility to educate boys’.
Teachers are unprepared
Many teachers said they don’t feel prepared to teach outside their subject specialism, or lack knowledge on topics like consent, healthy relationships and sharing of sexual images. In a few schools, leaders did not value the importance of RSHE. Insufficient time was given to the subject and curriculum planning was very poor.
Find out more about the Ofsted Report into Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges here
Putting the Ofsted report into Sexual Abuse in Schools & Colleges into Practice
Both the Department for Education and Ofsted expect schools to be fully implementing the statutory expectations of Relationships (and Sex) and Health Education, RSHE as from September 2021 and that this should sit within a wider framework of PSHE education.
Schools are also expected to have provided dedicated CPD to ensure that they meet the expectations of the recently released Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021, to ensure that the keep children safe from sexual harassment and abuse.
We recommend that all schools ensure that all staff understand the new guidance and that Senior leaders prepare to update safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they are clear and consistent and contain sufficient detail about sexual violence, sexual harassment, online abuse and harmful sexual behaviours. Our expert -led webinars are an ideal way to prepare your staff for this.
We are offering two age and stage specific short expert-led webinars on addressing sexual abuse which would be suitable for an after school twilight in existing staff meeting time:
Webinar: Approaches to Addressing Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Primary Schools
This training for primary school leaders will help colleagues to ensure safe, appropriate and effective teaching to cover all of the statutory expectations, including age-appropriate approaches to address sexual harassment – through the PSHE education curriculum.
We are also happy to offer aspects of the training, to ensure safe, age/stage appropriate Primary PSHE education for all members of staff.
Webinar: Approaches to Addressing Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Secondary Schools & Colleges
This training for secondary school subject leaders will help colleagues to ensure safe, appropriate and effective teaching to cover all of the statutory expectations, including age-appropriate approaches to address sexual harassment – through the PSHE education curriculum.
We are also happy to offer aspects of the training, to ensure safe, age/stage appropriate Secondary PSHE education for all members of staff.
Find out more about our Safeguarding training for Schools and Colleges or arrange an expert-led Safeguarding update for all staff new academic year or for new staff each term.JMC Inspection Team