Dealing with Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Schools

As we have all returned to our classroom after the Easter break, an update has been provided on the increasing level of interest in and news coverage of the distressing testimonials posted on the “Everyone’s Invited” website.

Sexual abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment in any form are abhorrent and it is vital that reports of abuse are appropriately investigated and victims supported and protected.

At Campion we take our safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously but the “Everyone’s Invited campaign” has reminded us that there is more we need to do.

We are now aware that on 31 March, the Secretary of State announced that he has asked Ofsted to undertake a thematic review into sexual abuse across state and independent schools and colleges. Amongst other things the review will look at whether schools and colleges have appropriate processes in place to allow pupils to report concerns freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

A dedicated NSPCC helpline is now available to support anyone who has experienced sexual abuse in educational settings or has concerns about someone or the issues raised. The dedicated NSPCC helpline number is 0800 136 663 and more information is available at: Dedicated helpline for victims of abuse in schools NSPCC.

Statutory safeguarding guidance and advice are very clear on our schools legal duties and the policies and processes already in place to safeguard children.

Part 5 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE 2020) provides schools with detailed guidance about child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment, including responding to reports of abuse and protecting victims. Part 5 also signposts to the wider specialist support that is available to us as a school.

Alongside this, recent government guidance documents supports us to understand what child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment looks like, how to prevent it, how to respond to reports of it, and how to support victims. The Safeguarding team refer to this document in all reported cases.

National guidance is very clear on how we as a school should work with our local multi-agency children’s partnerships as a relevant agency and how any concerns about a child should be referred. We will always look to contact our local multi-agency children’s partnership as well as the police for further advice and support when needed.

The curriculum for Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) has included this topic for both Key Stage 3 and 4 this term. At Campion assemblies have and are continuing to take place with this in mind. We are rolling out notices in all areas of the school highlighting the issue and how to report this.

We always have and will continue to take these matters very seriously. The Everyone’s Invited campaign has rightly served to focus our minds on the need to continue to work together to protect children.