The Board received a presentation on Halton’s response to Ofsted’s review into Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH) in schools and the DfE’s subsequent updated guidance.
The presentation outlined some background in respect of the review, its key findings and recommendations. Halton’s response following the review was discussed and details of the training that had taken place for headteachers, governors, all school staff and safeguarding leads was highlighted. It was noted that the model safeguarding policy had been updated to reflect the statutory guidance.
The following responses were provided to Members’ questions:
· The introduction of trousers to the female uniform – this was a decision for Governing bodies, the Council could only provide guidance on this;
· Some schools did not follow their own guidance concerning incidents of SVSH – this must be enforced in schools and it must be understood that a zero tolerance approach is needed;
· Action needed to be taken against the perpetrators as it seems that the victims are the ones who are expected to change their behaviour – yes support was needed for them as well as the victim and this was included in the guidance;
· Clarity over the involvement of the Police – Police officers were available offering support to schools and this advice would be included as part of the action plan moving forward. Guidance was already in place to advise schools at what point the Police should become involved;
· Prevention measures – the curriculum has been expanded upon to include this as a priority; and
· The Lead Officer for Safeguarding Children in Education was available to offer support to Governors in the safeguarding role within their school, as well as headteachers.
Further to the above, it was noted that parents were able to report incidents of SVSH in an official capacity according to a school’s complaints policy. Also, from 1 September Ofsted would be compiling statistics relating to incidents on a national level.
It was commented that locally, moving forward would involve data gathering from Halton’s schools on a monthly basis, to identify trends that the Authority could respond to. It was recognised that the normalisation of this kind of behaviour was completely unacceptable and the Board welcomed the response to this so far and the updated guidance in respect of this.
RESOLVED: That the presentation and comments made be noted.