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Schools plan curriculum and policy changes to tackle sexual offences after thousands of testimonies

SCHOOLS are planning curriculum and policy changes to tackle widespread sexual offences after thousands of testimonies by women and girls have come to light.

More than 10,000 anonymous accounts of misogyny, sexual harassment and assault have been posted on the Everyone’s Invited website.

They describe incidents such as groping, “slut-shaming,” “revenge porn” and violent abuse, including rape.

In response, Nottingham Girls’ High School is considering introducing self-defence classes for year seven pupils after parentals requests in light of the testimonies and tragedies such as the recent death of Sarah Everard.

Commons’ education select committee chairman Robert Halfon said there is a “Lord of the Flies culture” in schools and that counselling should be given to victims of sexual harassment and violence.

The Commons’ women and equalities reports in 2016 and 2018 led to issuing of new guidance by the Department for Education (DfE) that was created with schools and colleges, according to Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton.

Mr Barton said: “We would also encourage the young people on Everyone’s Invited who are victims of sexual offences to report these matters to the police. These incidents are serious criminal matters and the perpetrators should be punished.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said that many parts of the curriculum ought to be used to tackle gender-based crimes and stereotypes, rather than the narrow scope of relationships and sex education classes.

He called for schools to consistently use safeguarding policies to respond to incidents and involve the police where appropriate.

Yesterday Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described the allegations of sexual violence and harassment as “shocking and abhorrent,” but Labour MP Jess Phillips demanded an inquiry into the problem, saying: “I’m not just going to accept Gavin Williamson being shocked and appalled, why doesn’t he actually do something? Let’s hear what he’s going to do.”

She added that parents should “absolutely” report their sons to the police if they are responsible for a sexual assault and that she would do that as a parent of two boys.

In a letter to Mr Williamson, Ms Phillips and Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green called on the government to develop a national strategy for “swift and decisive action” to stamp out sexist or misogynistic attitudes to woman and girls early on.

Only 39 per cent of 1,000 girls and young women surveyed by Plan International UK said they have not experienced harassment or sexual violence at school, university or college.

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