Support the #Respect4SocialWork campaign today and celebrate the social work profession.
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Schools are not as safe as they should be

Schools are not as safe for children as they should be and children’s interests do not always come first when allegations of sexual abuse are made, a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found.

The Inquiry heard evidence about ineffective safeguarding in schools during the past 20 years and the testimonies on the Everyone’s Invited website demonstrate that currently, for children in some schools, sexual abuse and harassment between peers remain endemic.

Chair to the Inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay said: “Schools play a central role in the lives of almost nine million children in England and half a million in Wales. They should be places of learning where children are nurtured by trusted teachers and are able to flourish in a safe environment. This is in contrast to the many shocking instances of child sexual abuse detailed in this report. They represent the opposite of everything that a school should be.”

The Residential Schools investigation report is based on evidence received by the Inquiry about incidents of child sexual abuse, harmful sexual behaviour between children and other safeguarding concerns which arose at 13 schools, as well as evidence about eight schools which are no longer operating.

The report highlights that while there has been numerous changes and improvements to safeguarding over the past two decades, some children continue to experience sexual abuse and sexual harassment in schools. Schools need to accept that ‘it could happen here’, and in the case of harmful sexual behaviour between pupils that ‘it probably is happening here’.

The investigation found:

  • Many of the schools in the study responded inadequately to allegations against their staff.
  • In some cases there was a culture which discouraged reporting.
  •  Too often, the Inquiry saw examples of headteachers who found it inconceivable that staff might abuse their positions of authority to sexually abuse children.
  • Some heads were unaware of current statutory guidance or did not understand their role in responding to allegations against staff.
  • It was clear that some staff were more focused on protecting the reputation of the school than protecting the interests of the children.

The impacts of abuse for many victims and survivors have been profound and lifelong. Many of those in positions of authority and responsibility have not been held to account for their failures of leadership and governance while many perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

Professor Alexis Jay added: “Poor leadership frequently left staff unaware of how to respond to concerns about sexual abuse or too afraid of potential consequences to act. In some cases, it was clear that protecting the reputation of the school was prioritised over the protection of children from sexual abuse - this is a recurring theme in very many of our reports.”

The report makes seven recommendations including:

  • Setting nationally accredited standards and levels of safeguarding training in schools.
  • Making the highest level of safeguarding training mandatory for headteachers, designated safeguarding leads in England or designated safeguarding persons in Wales, designated safeguarding governors, or the proprietor or head of the proprietorial body.
  • Reintroducing a duty on boarding schools and residential special schools to inform the relevant inspectorate of allegations of child sexual abuse and other serious incidents, with professional or regulatory consequences for breach of this duty.

“Day and residential schools play a key role in keeping children safe from harm, but despite 20 years of enhanced focus on safeguarding they are not as safe for children as they should be. This must change. The seven recommendations in this report must be implemented to vitally improve the current systems of child protection in schools,” concluded Professor Alexis Jay.

Residential schools investigation

Working Together For Children

Make an enquiry

A multi-disciplinary organisation providing independent, high quality social work, psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic and family support services. Contact us with your requirements and speak to a member of our team who will help you today.
Make an Enquiry

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

New Deprivation of Liberty court launch for children


A National Deprivation of Liberty Court dealing specifically with applications relating to deprive children of their liberty has been announced by Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division.

The court will deal with applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty and will be based at the Royal Courts of Justice under the [...]

Read Full Story

Independent review into CSE in Oldham finds child protection procedures were not followed


Some children have been failed by the agencies that were meant to protect them because child protection procedures had not been properly followed, an independent assurance review into historic child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Oldham has found.

Evidence of poor practice was attributed to a structural flaw the review team found in the multi-agency system [...]

Read Full Story

Sixty Second Interview with Chloe Bach


Find out more about our Business Administrator Chloe Bach who has been with WillisPalmer since 2009.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee (oat milk latte)

What 3 things would you put in Room 101?

Migraines, slugs and war

What is your favourite place in the world?

Wherever my family is (but I do love New York)

If you were on death row what [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
WP Quality Assured

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram