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‘Culture change needed to tackle “normalised” sexual harassment in schools and colleges’

Ofsted publishes review

Sexual harassment, including online sexual abuse, has become 'normalised' for children and young people, a review from Ofsted has found.

Ofsted's inspectors visited 32 state and private schools and colleges and spoke to more than 900 children and young people about the prevalence of sexual harassment in their lives and the lives of their peers.

Around nine in ten of the girls Ofsted spoke to said that sexist name calling and being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened 'a lot' or 'sometimes. Inspectors were also told that boys talk about whose 'nudes' they have and share them among themselves like a 'collection game', typically on platforms like WhatsApp or Snapchat.

The review recommends that school and college leaders act on the assumption that sexual harassment is affecting their pupils, and take a whole-school approach to addressing these issues, creating a culture where sexual harassment is not tolerated.

Ofsted's review makes a number of recommendations for schools, colleges and partner agencies, including:

The review also makes recommendations for government, including:

The review also identifies areas where Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate can sharpen practice. Safeguarding, they say, is well covered on inspection, but a review of past inspections found that they were sometimes not robust enough on sexual harassment. For example, inspectors did not always record how they followed up with school leaders who failed to share any evidence of past incidents of sexual harassment.

Both inspectorates will be making updates to training, inspection handbooks and inspection practices where necessary, in light of the findings.

For the review, click here.