COMMONS

Boys who assault girls at school should not remain in same class

11 October 2017

The Women and Equalities Committee publishes a letter relating to Keeping Children Safe in Education and Ministers are questioned in an evidence session with the Committee.

Minister's comments

Giving evidence to MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee about sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools, Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP admitted that current guidance does not state specifically that children who sexually abuse other children at school should not be put back in the same classroom.

However, the Minister said that this should not happen, and that the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance could include this when it is revised this year.

Update to statutory guidance on sexual harassment and violence

In the session on 11 October, members of the Committee referred to a letter from the Department for Education to a solicitor about delays in government action since the Committee warned of these problems in its report in September 2016.

The Department's letter refers to interim guidance that it is publishing on sexual harassment and sexual violence. Updates to statutory guidance will not now come into force until September 2018, two years after the Committee reported these issues.

Ministers questioned by Committee

Ministers Nick Gibb and Anne Milton were giving evidence to the Committee on the performance and priorities of the Government Equalities Office.
 
Ministers committed to:

  • Looking at the inclusion of detailed guidance for schools that perpetrators of sexual harassment and sexual violence should not be put back in the same class as the victim, and;
  • Providing information to the Committee on numbers of schools put into special measures by Ofsted for failing to protect girls from sexual harassment or sexual violence.

In relation to forthcoming consultation on statutory guidance on Relationships and Sex Education, Equalities Minister Anne Milton said that work to tackle gender stereotyping "could not start the conversation early enough" in primary schools.

Chair's comments

Maria Miller MP, Committee Chair, said: 
 

"Ministers' commitment to tackling the sexual abuse of girls in schools is not in doubt. However, the Committee is perplexed as to why the Government is not acting with more urgency when we are talking about girls being abused in our schools, on our watch. 
 
"We look forward to receiving the information the Ministers promised, and seeing urgent action so that schools have the information they need and girls are better protected from abuse."

Further information

Image: Parliamentary Copyright

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