Schools: Discrimination

Department for Education written question – answered on 25th October 2021.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to ensure that schools and other relevant agencies are working with all children and young people to ensure that (a) misogyny and sexism are challenged and (b) such attitudes, actions and behaviours are not normalised or trivialised within schools; what steps his Department is taking to ensure that progress in both those areas is monitored; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

The new statutory guidance for relationships, sex and health education (RSHE), which came into force in September 2020, emphasises that schools should be alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes, and take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated, and any occurrences are identified and tackled. The guidance states that schools should make clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment are not acceptable, will never be tolerated and are not an inevitable part of growing up.

Following Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, the department has committed to developing additional support to help teachers deliver statutory RSHE effectively and confidently. The government’s October 2021 ‘Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy’ emphasises the importance of educational interventions to change harmful attitudes. To ensure consistency of approach, the department will develop non-statutory guidance, monitor and evaluate teacher confidence to deliver these difficult topics, and continue to build a programme of support that meets teachers’ needs.

The department has also recently published revised statutory guidance, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, which has been strengthened to better support schools and colleges to prevent abuse, identify abuse, and respond appropriately where abuse is reported. The department will be launching a consultation later this year on the non-statutory behaviour and discipline guidance which will provide more practical advice to schools about how to encourage good behaviour and respond effectively to incidents of poor behaviour, including advice on how to create a safe and respectful school culture in which sexual harassment and violence are not tolerated.

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