Sexual abuse in schools to be investigated in government review

An immediate review into sexual abuse in schools has been announced by the Department for Education (DfE).

Ofsted will look at safeguarding policies in state and independent schools, “the extent and the severity of the issue” and ensure there are appropriate systems in place to allow pupils to report their concerns.

The review will also look at ensuring schools are given enough guidance on how to deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations, and whether current school inspection systems are strong enough to address any concerns, the DfE said.

A new helpline, run by the NSPCC, to support potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in schools, including with guidance on how to contact police and report crimes was also announced by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary.

The number, which goes live on Thursday, will provide advice to children and adults, including parents and professionals, the DfE said.

It comes after more than 10,000 reports were posted on the Everyone’s Invited website, where students can anonymously share their experiences of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault.

The chair of parliament’s education committee said days ago that the government needed to seriously look into claims made against more than 100 schools, a call backed by the Labour Party.

Mr Williamson said: “While the majority of schools take their safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously, I am determined to make sure the right resources and processes are in place across the education system to support any victims of abuse to come forward.

“This government is committed to ensuring victims feel supported to refer the most serious allegations to the police via the helpline, safe in the knowledge that everything possible will be done to bring offenders to justice.”

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman welcomed the government’s announcement and said the schools watchdog would set out the terms of the review shortly.


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