Deal with school 'rape culture' firmly, says Ofsted

MPs ask watchdog about recent allegations of sexual harassment and abuse at independent schools

Tes Reporter

Allegations of sexual harassment or sex abuse at schools must be dealt with 'firmly', says Ofsted

Sexual abuse and harassment have “no place” in education and allegations should be “dealt with firmly”, MPs have heard.

Victor Shafiee, Ofsted’s deputy director of unregistered and independent schools, said children “need to be safe in schools” and parents need to feel that their children are safe, too.


Read: Teacher fury over 'horrific' sexual violence guidance

Behaviour: Four areas the DfE wants schools to focus on


He was speaking after a number of independent schools in the country were accused of failing to deal with complaints about a “rape culture”.

Addressing the Commons Education Select Committee, Mr Shafiee said: “We stand ready to support the government in any way that we can to strengthen safeguarding across the independent school sector.”

Sex abuse allegations at private schools

When asked how complaints of sexual abuse or harassment in schools should be handled, Mr Shafiee told MPs: “It should be dealt with firmly.

“There’s no place for the kind of allegations that we have heard to take place in schools.

“Children need to be safe in schools. Parents need to feel that their children are safe in school.”

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the committee, asked Mr Shafiee about the “scandal” surrounding reports of sexual abuse at independent schools.

Mr Halfon said: “The past week we’ve seen some pretty horrific allegations of sexual harassment, assault, abuse and a refusal to deal with rape culture, as has been suggested by former and current pupils at leading private schools.

“Why is it now, only now really, that these allegations have come to our attention and for certain schools to admit a failure to act responsibly, appropriately, only when evidence of abuse came to light?”

Mr Shafiee told MPs that Ofsted only inspects around half of independent schools and the rest are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

He said: “The allegations that you have noted – that we all care about and we are all concerned about – don’t, on the whole, involve independent schools that we inspect.

“I’m not saying that there are no safeguarding problems in the independent schools that we inspect. There are some and we report on it, and we report on it very firmly.”

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Tes Reporter

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