Response to Ofsted’s sexual abuse review

Ofsted’s report today makes grim reading. The report acknowledges that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are endemic in schools, affecting girls and boys – for example, more than 90% of girls and 50% of boys talked about being sent unwanted explicit videos or pictures. We know from our own work that people don’t come forward because they think they won’t be believed or they’ll be blamed. That’s why it’s so important to get the response right and for young people to feel confident there is help out there if they need it. Getting it right at this age sets the tone for the rest of someone’s life.

We want people to live the lives they want, and for this to happen the whole of society needs to sit up and take notice. Of course we welcome Ofsted’s comments about a carefully planned RHSE curriculum, and of course it’s right that school leaders should take a whole school approach, but it’s so much bigger than this. Teachers need the right training and the time to tackle the curriculum effectively, as well as the right specialist input to support them and clear referral routes for when people disclose.

Beyond school, young people need to find resources and advice in the online places where they already go – they are most likely to turn to friends in the first instance, so let’s make sure they have the right information at hand.  And let’s start that national conversation about how men and boys can play a role in ending violence against women.

It’s not OK. It’s never OK. And it can be different.