Sexual assault allegations from pupils are showing a “crossover” of how things happening outside school affect lives within, Ofsted’s chief inspector has said.
It comes after young people have shared thousands of testimonies of sexual abuse on the website Everyone’s Invited, many including the name of the school or university where abuse happened, or where the perpetrator attended.
Ofsted will carry out a review into whether institutions have effective safeguard measures in place in light of the deluge of allegations shared online.
Amanda Spielman, the school watchdog’s chief inspector, said on Thursday Everyone’s Invited “is showing quite how much is happening in that blurred space – with friends from school, and not friends from school but outside school”.
“It’s the crossover very often between things happening outside of school bleeding into children’s lives within school,” she told Sky News.
She added: “I have such a big concern about the fact so many of these young people have felt unable to tell their school what’s been happening to them.
Ms Spielman said Ofsted’s review – which will see the watchdog visit a sample of schools – will aim to make it easier for children to report sexual abuse allegations to their school.
“Many of these schools think that they have good routes – people that children can trust, who they can talk to – and yet somehow it’s not always adding up.”
She said Ofsted will speak to headteachers and students at schools where allegations have been made, but the “thematic review” – due to conclude by the end of May – will not aim to target specific cases and institutions.
Some schools have been looking at new initiatives and made changes after the death of Sarah Everard, who disappeared walking home in London last month, and testimonies of sexual harassment in education sparked calls for more action to tackle abuse and support women’s safety.
One headteacher told The Independent last month students have set up a new society to tackle the narrative around harassment, while another school leader said self-defence classes could enter the curriculum for younger pupils.
On Thursday, an education union conference called for male teachers and boys to be taught about sexism to support women and girls facing sexual harassment and abuse.
Additional reporting by Press Association