We understand the recent reports of sexual harassment and assault in senior schools have caused great concern for parents. And while an emergency review is underway, with the education watchdog Ofsted set to visit a number of institutions where allegations have been made, we wanted to share some pointers for parents currently considering secondary schools for their children.
First, make sure you see the school’s safeguarding policy and talk to a number of teachers to determine how well it is understood. It’s important to identify who the safeguarding lead is within the school, speak to them during the application process if possible – or at the very least confirm that you will have their direct contact details should your child attend. You should also read the most recent Ofsted report and talk to the school about any additional checks that may be carried out as a result of recent allegations.
Beyond the robust structures in place to tackle any problems that do arise, try to get under the skin of the school’s culture. Search social media channels, talk to as many current students as possible, and look at the way sex education is taught – including issues around cyberbullying, consent and forming healthy relationships.
With roots in our educational charity work, mentoring has always played a big part in the Figtree story. We have a network of mentors, counsellors and trained professionals to draw on to support our students, so please do get in touch if you have any concerns at all.
While the stories have been shocking and disappointing, we are proud to see students of all ages stepping up to make their voices heard. And as a female-led team committed to equality, we hope this will become an empowering moment for women in education, everywhere.