Sexual Harassment: Curriculum

Department for Education written question – answered on 28th April 2022.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the context of the findings on the effectiveness of educational interventions in reducing violence against women and girls in the Government's strategy for tackling violence against women and girls, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reviewing the national curriculum to include awareness of public sexual harassment; and if he will meet representatives of the Our Streets Now campaign to discuss the inclusion of public sexual harassment awareness in the national curriculum.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that children are educated on (a) understanding and (b) reporting public sexual harassment.

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

In primary schools, age-appropriate relationships education (RE) includes supporting children to learn about what healthy relationships are, their importance, and how to develop mutually respectful relationships in all contexts, including online. This is intended to provide a foundation for relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) at secondary school.

In secondary schools, RE broadens to become age-appropriate RSHE. It includes factual knowledge around sex, sexual health and sexuality, set firmly within the context of relationships.

RSHE statutory guidance advises schools to be conscious of issues such as sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and gender stereotypes. It also advises to take positive action to tackle these issues.

The department expects young people to learn what positive, healthy relationships look like, to learn about consent and to keep themselves safe in a variety of situations. This includes supporting pupils to recognise what constitutes abuse in a range of contexts, including in public, and to ensure pupils know where to seek help and report abuse. Pupils should also learn to address inappropriate behaviour, harassment, abuse, or exploitation. The topic being safe within RSHE covers a range of abusive behaviours. The department’s teacher training module also includes a section on asking for help and support.

In March 2021, the former Secretary of State for Education commissioned Ofsted to undertake an immediate review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, including primary schools. The review was published on 10 June 2021 and the department accepted the findings of the review in full, committing to go further than its recommendations.

Following the publication of Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges in June 2021, the department is developing new non-statutory guidance. The guidance will provide more detail on when specific content around harassment and abuse, including consent, should be taught. Officials met with Our Streets Now to discuss the inclusion of public sexual harassment in the guidance.

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