Key Voices #129 – Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges with Ofsted

“Being able to tell those [young people’s] stories brings a huge amount of power to a piece. What we didn’t want to do was play the blame game... the voices that come through here matter and they haven’t necessarily been heard in the way we want them to before. We can all collectively do better.” 

This week we talk to Anna Trethewey, Head of Strategy and Andrew Cook, HMI and  Regional Director North West, both from Ofsted about Ofsted’s rapid evidence review into peer-on-peer sexual abuse. We talk about how the review was conducted, the findings that emerged and how schools can start to take steps to respond to this issue. We also discuss the nature of the challenge in more detail and the importance of taking a deep and considered approach to building a safe and inclusive culture. We also touch on the role that governors can play in supporting schools with this work. 

We talk about: 
  • How Ofsted worked to produce a high impact report that conveyed the scale of the problem at speed
  • The pivotal importance of pupil experience and testimony to this review and how organising single-sex discussion groups proved to be a valuable way to capture views during the school visits 
  • How problematic sexual behaviour seems to have become almost normalised and the need to be more clear about thresholds and really defining what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable for young people 
  • Why inclusive language and strong role modelling can play such a key part in establishing a positive school culture 
  • The link between RSHE and PSHE provision and pupils’ experiences 
  • Some of the changes already resulting from the review’s publication 
  • How hard it can be for schools to navigate behaviour that happens online or out of school premises
  • How governors can support school leadership teams with this work 


You can read the full review from Ofsted here. 

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