Ofsted to visit English schools where sexual abuse was reported

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Schools and colleges in England where students have reported incidences of sexual violence could be visited by inspectors from the regulator, Ofsted.

The watchdog has announced it will visit "a sample of schools and colleges where cases have been highlighted".

Inspectors will assess how well schools respond, and support their pupils.

It comes after more than 11,000 reports were posted on the Everyone's Invited website, where students can anonymously share their experiences of abuse.

Many of the allegations on the website refer to sexual harassment carried out against young women by young men at their school or university.

Ofsted has published plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices on sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges.

Its chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said she had been "deeply troubled" by the posts on the website.

Ms Spielman said her inspectors' review would establish whether current safeguarding guidance was understood by schools and colleges, and if it was allowing them to "respond effectively" to allegations.

It will also examine whether schools and colleges need extra support in teaching students about sex and relationships, and if current inspection regimes, in both state and private schools, are robust enough around the issue of sexual abuse.

The review will also consider how well schools and colleges are working with local multi-agency safeguarding partners.

It is due to be completed by the end of May.

Ms Spielman said: "Like so many others, I have been deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual abuse posted on the 'Everyone's Invited' website.

"Many of the testimonies reveal that girls have not felt able to report incidents of sexual abuse to their schools.

"We hope that by listening to young people's experiences first-hand, this review will provide much needed insight into what these barriers are, and how they can be overcome."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that sexual abuse was abhorrent and that it was vital that these allegations were "dealt with properly".

Last week the government announced that a new helpline, run by the charity the NSPCC, would offer support to potential victims and provide advice to children and adults.

The Report Abuse in Education helpline can be reached on 0800 136 663, on Monday to Friday 08:00 to 22:00, or 09:00 to 18:00 at weekends. It can also be contacted by email at help@nspcc.org.uk

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