On the 7th April 2021, Ofsted published their plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges.
It follows the announcement by government last week, after anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse were published on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’.
What will the review look at?
The review will look at whether schools and colleges have appropriate processes in place to allow pupils to report sexual abuse concerns freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately.
It will establish whether there is sufficient guidance for schools and colleges on how they should deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations, and whether they understand and implement guidance well. It will also seek to identify whether current inspection regimes in both state and private schools are strong enough to address concerns and promote the welfare of children.
What key questions will the review look to answer?
Safeguarding and curriculum
- Is the existing safeguarding framework and guidance for inspectors strong enough to properly assess how schools and colleges safeguard and promote the welfare of children?
- How can schools and colleges be supported further to successfully deliver the new RSHE (relationships, sex and health education) curriculum, including in teaching about sexual abuse, cyber-bullying and pornography as well as healthy relationships and consent?
Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements
- How well are safeguarding guidance and processes understood and working between schools, colleges and local multi-agency partners?
- Does working between schools, colleges and local safeguarding partners, including local authority children’s social care, the police, health services and other support, need to be strengthened?
Victims’ voice and reporting
- How does the current system of safeguarding in schools and colleges listen to the voices of children when reporting sexual abuse whether occurring within or outside school?
- What prevents children from reporting sexual abuse?
- Do victims receive timely and appropriate support from the right place?
- Have inspections by ISI (the Independent Schools Inspectorate) and Ofsted been robust enough in relation to the issues raised?
What approach will the review take?
The review will review a sample of recently reported evidence of sexual violence and abuse involving pupils in schools. Ofsted will then visit a sample of schools and colleges where schools have been highlighted, working with the ISI where appropriate.
The review will present a picture of good and poor practice across the country and not report on individual cases.
It will be informed by discussions with members of a reference group that will include victims’ representatives, other inspectorates, representatives from health, social care and the police, school and college representatives and relevant experts.
When will the review conclude?
By the end of May 2021. It aims to establish where safeguarding arrangements are currently strong enough to address concerns and promote the welfare of children.
You can find out more about the review itself here.