Ofsted to visit schools at centre of sex abuse scandal

Watchdog's review into sexual abuse could trigger new school inspections if safeguarding failings are revealed

John Roberts

Ofsted will visit schools at the centre of sex abuse allegations on the Everyone's Invited website

Ofsted's review into sexual abuse in schools will involve visits to schools where cases have been highlighted, the watchdog said today. 

As part of the review, commissioned by the government, inspectors will also review recently reported evidence of sexual violence and abuse involving students.

Ofsted has said it will visit a sample of schools and colleges where cases are said to have occurred, with the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) where appropriate, to look at how well safeguarding is working and to discuss the wider issues raised by the evidence.

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The review will not report on individual schools but will present "a picture of good and poor practice across the country".

Everyone's Invited allegations of sex abuse in schools

However, Ofsted has said that where it finds "serious and widespread failures in a school or college’s safeguarding arrangements", it will immediately carry out a full inspection that will result in a published report. 

Ofsted's review will also look at whether schools and colleges need further support in teaching about sex and relationships.

And it will examine if its own inspections and those of the ISI have been robust enough on questions of safeguarding and abuse.

The government announced last week that it was launching an "immediate" review in response to allegations of sexual abuse in schools.

It has asked Ofsted to investigate safeguarding policies in both state and independent schools, to assess the "extent and the severity of the issue" and ensure that processes are in place to "allow pupils to report concerns freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately".

The announcement came amid "rape culture" concerns, after thousands of allegations of peer-to-peer sex abuse were received by the Everyone's Invited website, many of them involving students who attend private schools.

Ofsted's review will seek to answer the following questions:

  • 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?
  • 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 the ISI and Ofsted been robust enough in relation to the issues raised?

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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