Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges

10-06-2021

Sexual harassment is still trivialised and normalised throughout society, and we urgently need to boost the focus around both preventing and responding to the sexual harassment.

Commenting on the Inspectorate’s publication detailing how sexual harassment, including online sexual abuse, has become ‘normalised’ for children and young people, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Sexual harassment is still trivialised and normalised throughout society, and we urgently need to boost the focus around both preventing and responding to the sexual harassment which happens in every school and college. Listening actively to girls and women staff is crucial.

“The Ofsted review finds a very similar picture to that revealed by the work of the House of Commons Women & Equality Committee and by NEU research with UK Feminista over recent years.

“The NEU welcomes the importance Ofsted places on high-quality training for teachers delivering RSHE, and its highlighting that insufficient time is given to the subject. This is about getting the balance in the curriculum right. Proper support for schools to introduce the new RSHE curriculum can’t be done on the cheap. Teachers in the review shared their concerns about being asked to teach outside their subject specialism and we’d like the Department for Education to engage with this staffing challenge.

“Ofsted talk about the culture in schools and we agree a whole-school approach to tackling sexism is required, alongside encouraging reporting and open discussion of what harassment is. We support a much greater focus on sexual harassment in schools using the whole curriculum. Students must feel empowered to discuss and learn about sexism, report incidents and take action for equality.

“The DfE can play its part by showing better leadership in terms of the curriculum response and must increase its focus on the social aspects of learning. Many curriculum reviews in other countries have done so. One-off lessons aren’t going to be the answer – we need training, and guidance, to build staff capacity to understand, identify and tackle sexism on an ongoing basis. There is very little on this in teacher training currently.”

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