Government launches enquiry into abuse in Schools

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School crossing sign

The Department of Education has announced that there will be an inquiry, run by Ofsted, to investigate how private and state schools in England deal with sexual harassment and assault among their pupils.

The website Everyone’s Invited has recorded 8,000 testimonies of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual abuse experienced by women and girls at schools and universities. These testimonies make difficult reading, and are what has driven the government to implement the inquiry.

The NSPCC has set up a new helpline to support victims and provide advice to both child and adult callers. It will also give information about how to contact the police and report crimes.

Soma Sara, the 22-year-old founder of Everyone’s Invited, has created a new section on the website that allows users to anonymously post their ideas for change. The aim is to share the community’s findings with the government in order to develop positive solutions.

The Department of Education have said that Ofsted’s review would look at the extent and severity of problems in schools and whether appropriate processes were in place to allow pupils to report their concerns and know they will be taken seriously.  This will involve addressing any concerns that there may be for monitoring of safeguarding at private schools, overseen by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

I have represented many pupils who have been abused at school.  This abuse can be by teachers, teaching assistants or other staff as well as by pupils. As some of the testimonials on Everyone’s Invited show it is important to recognise that abuse does not always stop at the school gates, and I hope that the stories that are now being told about survivor’s experiences and the findings of the inquiry will drive real change, reduce the risk of abuse and mean that allegations are investigated properly and sensitively as soon as they are raised.