Everyone's Invited: 'Schools are deeply concerned and taking this issue very seriously'
ISC chief executive Julie Robinson responds to the Everyone's Invited movement, highlighting that schools are having meaningful conversations with students, alumni and parents as they look at what further actions they can take to address this issue.
Julie Robinson said: "The Everyone’s Invited movement has helped to raise awareness of what is clearly a hugely distressing social and cultural issue that cannot and must not be ignored.
"News reports have featured heart-breaking testimonies from brave young men and women as well as alarming statistics in relation to sexual abuse and harassment involving school pupils.
"Schools have a crucial part to play in teaching pupils about sex and relationships - as well as equality and diversity - as part of their wider education, helping to develop respectful, responsible and empathetic young people.
"We know that schools are deeply concerned and taking this issue very seriously. They want to help enact positive change. They are listening to those who have spoken out and encouraging anyone else who has suffered or been affected by such incidents of abuse to get in touch so they too can be heard and supported.
"Schools are having meaningful conversations with their students, alumni and parents as they look at what further actions they can take to address this issue.
"Some have already announced they are commissioning external, independent reviews in a range of areas including policies, procedures, training and curriculum, and are also revisiting their peer on peer abuse procedures to ensure they provide best possible outcomes for the school community and that pupils know how to report, so they can be supported and action taken.
"In addition, there are schools open to opportunities to work together to tackle this issue by sharing best practice in relation to delivering relationships and sex education and health and wellbeing initiatives.
"The education of children is of course key but schools want this learning to extend to all members of the school community – to staff, governors and parents. Everyone has a role to play.
"As well as looking at new measures and approaches that can be introduced going forward, schools are of course acutely aware of their responsibilities in relation to the recent testimonies published on Everyone’s Invited. While it is challenging for schools act effectively on anonymised allegations, they are making referrals to external agencies where appropriate, including reporting incidents to the local authority and the police.
"The ISC is clear: harassment and abuse of any kind cannot be tolerated. We would encourage anyone who has experienced such behaviour, or who is suffering because of it, to report it so they can be supported and steps can be taken to address the issue."