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The Warriner School

Statement about peer-on-peer sexual harassment and violence, including online abuse

Background

There have been some concerning reports in the media recently about peer-on-peer sexual harassment and violence, including online abuse in schools, colleges and universities.

Ofsted’s recently published report into sexual abuse in schools has revealed some concerning trends regarding the prevalence of the abuse. The report can be located here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges

The review has revealed that for some young people, such abuse is so commonplace that they feel it is not worth reporting. Our conversations and surveys with young people at The Warriner School have alerted us to similar patterns to the national picture presented by OFSTED.

The Warriner School Response

At The Warriner School we are actively developing a culture where all kinds of sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are recognised and addressed. We have developed a strong anti- bullying known as Safe at School policy and procedures. We want the environment in our school to be one in which staff model respectful (part of the schools 3 R’s values) and appropriate behaviour, where children and young people are clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and where they are confident to ask for help and support when they need it.  

We are highly committed to the implementation of the recommendations within the OFSTED report including:

  • a carefully sequenced RSHE curriculum, based on the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) statutory guidance, that specifically includes sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online. This should include time for open discussion of topics that children and young people tell us they find particularly difficult, such as consent and the sending of ‘nudes’
  • high-quality training for teachers delivering RSHE
  • routine record-keeping and analysis of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online, to identify patterns and intervene early to prevent abuse
  • a behavioural approach, including sanctions when appropriate, to reinforce a culture where sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are not tolerated
  • working closely with LSPs (Local Safeguarding Partners) in the area where the school or college is located so they are aware of the range of support available to children and young people who are victims or who perpetrate harmful sexual behaviour
  • support for Designated safeguarding leads (DSLs), such as protected time in timetables to engage with LSPs
  • training to ensure that all staff (and governors, where relevant) are able to:
    • better understand the definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online sexual abuse
    • identify early signs of peer-on-peer sexual abuse
    • consistently uphold standards in their responses to sexual harassment and online sexual abuse

Through the new Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum we advocate the explicit teaching and development of important attributes such as respect, honesty, kindness, tolerance and courtesy. Important issues such as personal privacy, respect and consent to ensure that more young people have a good understanding of how to behave towards their peers, are part of the guidance in the curriculum.

Our school plays a crucial role in teaching students about sex and relationships, equality and diversity and modern citizenship. This is enacted through our school culture, its curriculum, and policies. We recognise that we have a vital responsibility in tackling sexual violence and harassment and instilling good values in our students and their respect for one another. We are committed to training all our staff and governors in terms of around identification of early signs, responding to sexual harassment and online sexual abuse and referral processes.

Like so much of education, our work must complement that undertaken by parents and carers so that young people receive a consistent message and can go about their lives free from harassment and abuse. Our school will continue to engage with students, listen to their concerns and signpost necessary support provision within and beyond its establishments.

We ask that anyone who has experienced such behaviour, or who is suffering because of it, to report it to an appropriate trusted adult in school so they can be supported, and steps can be taken to address the issue.

Alex Greenhalgh, Designated Safeguarding Lead
November 2021