Commenting on the Government’s response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report on sexual violence and harassment in schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“There is absolutely no place in our schools for sexual harassment or violence towards either pupils or staff.

“Schools should be places of safety, yet research undertaken by the NASUWT shows that all too often pupils, and also teachers, are being exposed to sexualised comments, threats and abuse.

“Children and young people can benefit enormously from access to effective PSHE and sex and relationships (SRE) education so that they are able to stay safe and treat others with respect.

“However, it is concerning that despite rising levels of sexual bullying and sexual harassment by children and young people, the provision of PSHE and SRE has been under pressure as a result of Government-driven curriculum reforms, funding cuts and changes to accountability requirements.

“The Government needs to set out how schools can secure a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and bullying by providing clear guidance on how to deal with these issues and to ensure that all schools record, report and take effective action whenever incidents of sexual violence and harassment involving pupils occur.

“In addition to ensuring that there is space in the curriculum to address these issues, schools need improved access and quality provision of safeguarding training that specifically addresses the issue of sexual violence and harassment.

“Schools must also be supported in tackling the problem. It must be recognised that sexual harassment and violence is a societal problem which cannot be left to schools to tackle alone.”

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