As many pupils prepare to return to school following the Easter break, Ofsted have confirmed that they will be visiting schools that have recently been named in complaints about sexual harassment and assault.
The “Everyone’s Invited” website has collected more than 14,000 anonymous testimonies of alleged sexual attacks, rapes and harassment amongst pupils.
The visits could be described as long overdue considering in 2016, Conservative MP Maria Miller chaired a House of Commons Committee which published a report titled “Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in Schools”. She recently raised concerns that “nothing has changed in the last five years. Ofsted needs to now look at the data it’s been collecting to find out why the situation has not improved for children.”
An Ofsted spokesman stated in response that “we will ensure that appropriate referrals have been made in each case we explore. In addition, if we find serious and widespread failures in a school or college’s safeguarding arrangements, we will immediately carry out a full inspection, which will result in a published report.”
Although campaigners say sexual misconduct is happening in both the state and private sector, many of the most high-profile allegations in recent weeks have involved leading independent schools.
The Police and NSPCC have now set up a special dedicated national helpline as they believe that the total allegations could exceed the 11,000 victims on the national database for Operation Hydrant, which was set up to record victims of sexual abuse.
Simon Bailey, the national police lead for child protection, said: “This could be the biggest explosion in sexual abuse since Jimmy Savile. It has the potential to be.” Bailey vowed “Every victim who comes forward will be believed, will be listened to and dealt with sensitively.”
Bailey also voiced concern that some schools or academies may have covered up instances of sexual misconduct to protect their reputations, urging that “If parents are aware that their son or daughter has been a victim of abuse, then please come forward and report the abuse. Your son or daughter, their account will be believed and we will deal with it appropriately.”
Scotland Yard are currently reviewing the testimonies on the “Everyone’s Invited” website to whether any potential victims in London could be encouraged to report crimes.
The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that schools would be urgently investigated and face tough sanctions if they fail to address concerns. Several high profile fee-paying schools including Dulwich College, Latymer Upper School and Westminster School were named in testimonies and faced accusations of a failure to address “rape culture.”
Victims of abuse may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Award (CICA) and potentially be able to present a claim directly against the Local Authority or education establishment. The CICA is a government funded body for the victims of blameless crimes.
Farleys Solicitors represent hundreds of victims who have been subjected to horrific sexual assaults. For these victims we realise there is unfortunately no getting away from the horrendous assaults they endured. However, pursuing a claim often helps our clients to bring closure to their ordeal, to provide the resources to fund medical treatments and therapy they may require. Payments are calculated and awarded by reference to a tariff of injuries, which can compensate for sexual and physical abuse but also mental injury following a crime of violence.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a fellow pupil, we are available to help and assist. Our dedicated team tirelessly supports hundreds of survivors throughout the process, treating every case with the sensitivity, confidentiality and integrity that each deserves. Contact us in confidence today on our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or you can also contact us by email if you prefer.