Ofsted inspectors to visit schools facing sexual abuse claims

Checks on institutions named on Everyone’s Invited website will form part of emergency review

Ofsted inspectors are to carry out checks on schools in England that have been the subject of recent complaints about sexual harassment and assault.

The education watchdog said inspection teams would visit a sample of institutions where cases have been highlighted on the Everyone’s Invited website, which has collected more than 14,000 testimonies including alleged rapes and sexual attacks among children of school age.

The visits will form part of an emergency review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, due to be completed by the end of May.

Ofsted said it would not report on individual schools or cases but would look at good and bad practice across the country.

“However, we will ensure that appropriate referrals have been made in each case we explore,” it said.

“In addition, if we find serious and widespread failures in a school or college’s safeguarding arrangements, we will immediately carry out a full inspection, which will result in a published report.”

Inspectors will talk to school leaders to see if appropriate safeguarding processes are in place, how well understood guidance is and how effectively schools respond to complaints. They will also talk to students to find out if those who make complaints are sufficiently well supported.

The review, announced last week by the government, will also look at how well schools and colleges are teaching about sex and relationships, with a particular focus on lessons on sexual abuse, cyberbullying and pornography, as well as healthy relationships and consent.

Relationships and sex education has been a compulsory part of the school curriculum in England since September, though delivery has been widely disrupted by Covid lockdowns.

The review team will also look at whether inspection regimes in state and private schools have been sufficiently robust around the issue of sexual abuse. The Guardian has previously reported that Ofsted has been particularly concerned about the monitoring of safeguarding at private schools, which is overseen by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Although campaigners say sexual misconduct is happening in both the state and private sector, many of the most high-profile allegations in recent weeks have involved leading independent schools.

Announcing the terms of reference for the forthcoming review, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “Like so many others, I have been deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual abuse posted on the Everyone’s Invited website. Many of the testimonies reveal that girls have not felt able to report incidents of sexual abuse to their schools.

“We hope that by listening to young people’s experiences first-hand, this review will provide much-needed insight into what these barriers are and how they can be overcome.”

Soma Sara, who set up the website, said: “We are proud that Everyone’s Invited has prompted this Ofsted review but, as we have made clear from the outset, rape culture is prevalent throughout society and therefore is present in all schools.

“We are surprised that Ofsted wants to focus on the schools named on Everyone’s Invited as we believe they should take a random sample of schools across the UK.”

Ofsted covers only England. Education Scotland, Estyn (Wales) and the Education and Training Inspectorate (Northern Ireland) perform similar functions within their education systems.

Sara added: “As 14,133 testimonies on Everyone’s Invited have made clear, rape culture is endemic in all schools. We hope that the review will focus on finding solutions that will be implemented and will help to eradicate rape culture.”

Contributor

Sally Weale Education correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Tory MP accuses Ofsted of ‘massive failure’ over sexual abuse in schools
Maria Miller issues strong criticism after publication of findings five years on from landmark report on scale of problem in England

Sally Weale Education correspondent

10, Jun, 2021 @4:47 PM

Article image
DfE warns schools could be closed over 'rape culture' claims
Schools that fail safeguarding rules risk closure after sexual abuse allegations posted on Everyone’s Invited

Haroon Siddique

28, Mar, 2021 @4:01 PM

Article image
Culture of sexual abuse in schools toxic for teachers too, says union
NASUWT leader says some boys’ behaviour not acceptable and no women should feel unsafe in school

Richard Adams Education editor

04, Apr, 2021 @5:23 PM

Article image
Ofsted chief asked for greater powers to check for abuse in private schools
Exclusive: Amanda Spielman’s request over ‘potential safeguarding issues’ was ignored by ministers

Richard Adams and Sally Weale

30, Mar, 2021 @7:26 PM

Article image
Child victims of sexual abuse ‘often accused of lying to police’
Officers also mismanaged cases in a way that could lead to reprisals for victims, survivors tell England and Wales inquiry

Haroon Siddique Legal affairs correspondent

24, Jun, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
The Guardian view on sex abuse in schools: facing up to rape culture | Editorial
Editorial: The testimony of thousands of schoolgirls must serve as a wake-up call both for specific schools and society as a whole

Editorial

30, Mar, 2021 @5:46 PM

Article image
Call for urgent Ofsted inquiry into allegations of school sexual abuse
MP behind 2016 report into issue demands ‘deep dive’ to establish why complaints not taken seriously

Sally Weale and Vikram Dodd

29, Mar, 2021 @8:10 PM

Article image
Warwick University students stage sit-in over sexual abuse
Protesters speak of ‘culture of fear’ and university’s failure to support victims

Jessica Murray

02, Apr, 2021 @1:27 PM

Article image
Hundreds of calls made to UK helpline about sexual abuse in schools
Incidents reported include name-calling, online abuse, unwanted touching, assault and rape

Sally Weale Education correspondent

06, Dec, 2021 @3:10 PM

Article image
Sexual harassment is a routine part of life, schoolchildren tell Ofsted
Pupils say incidents in school and online are too common to bother challenging or reporting

Sally Weale Education correspondent

09, Jun, 2021 @11:01 PM