On the 7th of April Ofsted published plans for the review of safeguarding policies in colleges, state schools and independent schools relating to sexual abuse. The review was announced by the government from the Department for Education after many anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse where posted online.
The review will consist of Ofsted / Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) attending schools in highlighted areas to review the support systems in place and how well the responses are working. As well as talking to staff, pupils and leaders, Ofsted / ISI will consider whether further support is needed in teaching pupils about sexual abuse and relationships. The review will also make sure that other current safeguarding guidance is understood and carried out by schools and colleges. Ofsted / ISI will also consider how well schools are working with multi-agency safeguarding partners.
The review will ensure that the right guidance is provided to colleges, state schools and independent schools on how to deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations. Current inspection regimes will also be reviewed to ensure all schools are strong enough to address the issues and promote the welfare of children.
All schools are now required to provide sex and relationship education to secondary pupils and relationship education to primary pupils. This enables children to have a better understanding and to be aware of important issues such as consent, respect and personal privacy in order to understand how to behave towards peers.
The Department for Education will not hesitate to take action towards schools that have failed to meet the safeguarding standards. Where concerns are present Ofsted / ISI will ensure improvement in the failing practices or will be forced to close. This strategy will provide a whole system response to focus on the prevention and early intervention of sexual abuse.
Ofsted will work with representatives from social care, police, victim support groups, school and college leaders and the Independent Schools Council. The review will conclude by end of May 2021 and will seek to establish where safeguarding arrangements and processes are good and have worked well and where improvements are needed.
The NSPCC have provided a new direct helpline for abuse in education on their website 0800 136 663. An email is also provided firstname.lastname@example.org. This helpline is open to children and young people who have experienced abuse in education and for worried adults and professionals that need support and guidance for recent and none recent abuse. See here.
Guidance is provided on the government website by the Department for Education. See here.
Guidance is also provided by Ofsted on the government website. See here.