Laura Sharman 01 March 2022

Children still not safe from sexual abuse in schools, inquiry finds

Children still not safe from sexual abuse in schools, inquiry finds image
Image: Inspiration GP / Shutterstock.com

Children are not as safe as they should be from sexual abuse in residential schools, a damning new report has warned today.

Published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the report found some schools are reluctant to report child sexual abuse by staff and pupils, with many responding inadequately to allegations.

The inquiry examined incidents of child sexual abuse and other safeguarding concerns at 13 schools, as well as evidence about eight schools which are no longer operating.

It found that despite changes and improvements to safeguarding over the past two decades, there are still ‘shocking and horrific’ instances of child sexual abuse in schools.

Many of these schools had headteachers who found it inconceivable that staff might abuse their positions of authority to sexually abuse children, with some staff more focused on protecting the school’s reputation than protecting the children.

Chair to the Inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay, said: 'Poor leadership frequently left staff unaware of how to respond to concerns about sexual abuse or too afraid of potential consequences to act. In some cases, it was clear that protecting the reputation of the school was prioritised over the protection of children from sexual abuse - this is a recurring theme in very many of our reports.

'Day and residential schools play a key role in keeping children safe from harm, but despite 20 years of enhanced focus on safeguarding they are not as safe for children as they should be. This must change. The seven recommendations in this report must be implemented to vitally improve the current systems of child protection in schools.'

This report makes seven recommendations including setting nationally accredited standards and levels of safeguarding training in schools, and reintroducing a duty on boarding schools and residential special schools to inform the relevant inspectorate of allegations of child sexual abuse.

Richard Scorer, head of abuse at Slater and Gordon, said: 'This report confirms that despite countless scandals, safeguarding in our schools is still not fit for purpose. There are major issues with vetting and barring, whistleblowing, response to allegations, inspection, governance and training.

'The inquiry’s recommendations are welcome so far as they go. However the key change we need is mandatory reporting of known or suspected abuse to the authorities, backed up by the criminal law - this is the best and ultimately the only effective way to ensure children are kept safe. We urge the inquiry to recommend mandatory reporting in its final report.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Team Leader - Nexus Support - Hockley

Essex County Council
£21258 - £23437 per annum
Team Leader - Nexus Support - HockleyPermanent, Full Time £21,258 to £23,437 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Support Worker - Nexus Support - Wickford

Essex County Council
£10 - £12.50 per hour
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Nexus Support to recruit Support Workers on both permanent and bank contracts for their s England, Essex, Wickford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Support Worker - Nexus Support - Rochford

Essex County Council
£10 - £12.50 per hour
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Nexus Support to recruit Support Workers on both permanent and bank contracts for their su England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director - Investment Strategy

West Midlands Pension Fund
£101,074 - £121,753
This is a rare opportunity to join one of the largest and most progressive pension funds in the UK at an exciting time in its development. Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Pension Fund

Registered Manager - Children's Residential Home

Cumbria County Council
44,624 – 45,648
An exciting opportunity has arisen for the right person to join our Children’s Residential Home in Penrith as Registered Manager. Penrith, Cumbria
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.