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Ofsted to visit schools as part of safeguarding review

Ofsted is set to visit schools and colleges where allegations of sexual abuse were made in testimonials posted anonymously on a website.

The inspectorate announced last week that it will carry out an immediate review of safeguarding policies in schools after more than 11,000 posts, some from children as young as nine, were posted anonymously on the Everyone’s Invited website.

Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, 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.”

A sample of schools and colleges will be visited where cases have been highlighted. Inspectors will talk to school and college leaders, pupils and students, and will look at how well systems of support and response are working.

The review will find out whether schools and colleges have appropriate safeguarding processes in place. It will also consider whether current guidance is understood by schools and colleges, and whether it is sufficient to help them respond effectively to allegations.

It will also look at whether schools and colleges need further support in teaching about sex and relationships, and whether current inspection regimes in state and private schools are robust enough around the issue of sexual abuse. The review will also look at multi-disciplinary safeguarding arrangements between schools and other agencies.

Three key components in the review’s terms of reference are: safeguarding and curriculum, multi-agency arrangements and victims’ voice and reporting.
Ofsted will review a sample of the recently reported evidence of sexual violence and abuse involving pupils before visiting a sample of schools and colleges to explore the issues raised by the evidence. The review will not report on individual schools or cases, but present a picture of good and poor practice across the country.

Ofsted will work with representatives from social care, police and victim support groups, as well as school and college leaders. The review is aimed to conclude by the end of May 2021.

Amanda Spielman concluded: “Schools play a vital part in promoting a culture of respect among young people – including between boys and girls. We will consider how schools can support and encourage appropriate behaviour, from the lessons in the classroom to the culture in the corridors. And when children do speak up about their experiences, it’s vital that schools have the support and structures in place to take them seriously and respond appropriately.”

Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools: terms of reference

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