Agenda item

Tackling abuse, sexual violence and harassment in schools and on our streets

The police will be providing  data on sexual harassment and abuse in schools. 


The following officers will be attending:


  Detective Superintendent Sean Oxley – Safeguarding Lead for Central South

  DI Paul Graves – Deputy in Safeguarding Hub for Central South


Nina Dohel, Southwark Council’s Director of Education will be attending.


Headteachers and sixth formers have been invited.


The chair invited Natasha Jones, Head of Key Stage 3, City of London Academy (COLA) and two 6th form students from COLA to present on healthy relationships and the work that COLA is developing to address this.


The COLA students said that they have not received lessons on sex education yet, it’s still seen as a taboo subject, and so media has become the only educator. They said it would be helpful to address this in schools. Sex education and healthy relationship education is important otherwise young people will get information from other sources such media and porn; which are neither realistic nor showing a healthy portrayal of normal relationships.


LGBT education needs to be improved; heterosexual relationships are not the only norm among students. Harassment is also hard to tackle if people do not know how to identify this. Education needs to start early and there is a need for healthy examples in the media. There is a problem with revenge porn, sexualisation of girls and young women.


Natasha Jones, Head of Key Stage at COLA said that that students on panels have said we want to talk more about healthy relationships.  The feedback has been that the education is  focused almost exclusively on biology; but they would like more on relationships and emotions.  Relationships are not always easy. Teaching about consent is a key to this and also rights in a relationship. The school has been holding discussions with students. Issues like abortion have come up, as did rape. Some students were saying rape could not take in place in a relationship, which was shocking. Talking about these issues is crucial.


Following feedback from students that they would like more on this issue there is now a growing recognition within the school and the leadership structure that this is an important subject. One of the concerns is that sex education will not be taken seriously as it is not academic subject. Some teachers also feel incompetent. But teachers are empowering themselves and a recent session she delivered in school was very popular. There is a growing awareness that relationships are the most important thing. The current curriculum in development is student led; scenarios are given for discussion, there is student evaluation and feedback, and ongoing discussion with student panels on content development.


The chair invited the following education and police representatives to contribute:


·  Detective Superintendent Sean Oxley – Safeguarding Lead for Central South

·  DI Paul Graves – Deputy in Safeguarding Hub for Central South

·  Nina Dohel – Director of Education will be attending.

·  Lee Souter ; PSHE & Healthy Schools Lead, Children's and Adults' Services

·  David Bromfield Senior Advisor for Secondary Schools


The Director of Education said that schools are teaching this to a greater or lesser extent .There is an established network, meeting quarterly. Schools are forthcoming and ask about issues such as gender identity with in LGBT. There is also a PSHE curriculum and resources bank; with teaching resources on citizen rights, etc.


The police said that they work to Identifying young people at risk and risky individuals, and they are raising awareness of harassment and working with women’s groups to do this.



The chair then invited comments and questions.


Members asked the young people about useful resources and they referred to a series of performances on social media about what constitutes a healthy relationships and what is not .This was a student’s collage project showing different scenarios. It would be helpful to learning about boundaries and how to assert them at an early age. Healthy relationships discussion and teaching ought to start at a young age, about 7 years old. It is also important to engage boys.


Members asked if the education department collect’s data on safeguarding. The Director said that formally the council did record data; but however the there was a question as to its usefulness, and with the move towards academies and autonomy there are more local choice about what data is shared. 


The police have been asked to provide data to the scrutiny commission to support the review; officers said that they are working on providing this however there are some difficulties.


The Director added that Ofsted do inspect school safeguarding policies and it will be an Ofsted requirement to teach safe and healthy relationships.


The Director was asked if it was a legal requirement to report. She explained that schools are required to have a safeguarding policy. Most schools use the Southwark model. Schools will use this to make decisions to refer matters to MASH and/ or the police.  A member asked if there would be provision to report anonymously and she said this is always available.


The Director was asked how the council can use its influence best and she said that an approach that has worked is sharing curriculum content and working with primary schools.


She was then asked if there was a lack of consistency. The Director said she would frame this as variability. Parents can get nervous, and withdraw for religious or other reasons. There can also be issues related to the skills and confidence of staff. Schools now have lots of autonomy.


The PSHE & Healthy Schools Lead said the education department does share best practice and there are PSHE models of delivery and sessions,  which are popular with teachers. An external expert has delivered 6000 hours teaching hours.


A member asked how can the council get a more accurate picture of what is happening on the ground and support partners.


The COLA teacher said that it is important to communicate with young people what is harassment.  One approach could be a focus on this issue for a week, similar to work on Mental Health, and this could promote how to identify and report harassment.


Members asked if the police are taking this seriously. Some of the feedback received has been this is not always the case. The police said they are working to support victims and also working with educating perpetrators. They pointed out their resource constraints with 300 less police officer. This means they have to focus their resources on cases which stand a chance of being solved, and that is frequently based on being able to identify the perpetrator - which can be variable with harassment.