In December, the Department for Education (DfE) issued advice intended for governing bodies, proprietors, head teachers, principals, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads entitled “Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges.” The advice links to other guidance issued by the DfE (which is listed in the summary at its start) and should form part of the whole school approach to safeguarding. It is easy to read and addresses the issue of sexual violence and harassment in the context of peer-on-peer abuse in schools.
It is separated into four parts. Part one sets out what is meant by sexual violence and sexual harassment between children. Part two looks at schools’ legal responsibilities in this area. Part three considers the whole school approach to take with regard to safeguarding, including training and the role of education in prevention. Part four provides advice and guidance on how to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment between children.
Schools should give consideration as to how this advice is incorporated into their safeguarding approach as a whole and if dealing with any concerns or allegations raised in relation to peer-on-peer abuse. A school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection policy should be amended to include and make reference to it.
Schools will need to ensure that it is reflected within the context of their particular school and setting and is included within the staff training as part of the wider safeguarding approach in accordance with Keeping Children Safe in Education. This is likely to cross-refer to other relevant safeguarding policies (such as anti- bullying policy and/or a peer-on-peer abuse policy). Schools may wish to engage with parents in order to raise this issue and how the school will deal with it.
We have reviewed the ISBA Safeguarding and Child Protection Template Policy and Safeguarding Regulatory Checklist in light of this guidance.