Update on the review into peer-on-peer sexual harassment in education settings
In June 2021, Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, asked Estyn to review the culture and processes at maintained and independent secondary schools to protect and support young people.
The review will consider the incidence of peer-on-peer sexual harassment and how schools’ safeguarding culture encourages and empowers pupils to stand up to their peers and report all forms of sexual harassment.
Inspectors will visit schools in late September and early October, with a report to be published in December 2021.
Inspectors from Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) will also contribute to visits to independent schools with boarding provision.
The Minister said: “Any form of sexual harassment is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It remains a priority across the Welsh Government that every child and young person is supported, and that they feel able to report any concerns they may have.
“Estyn inspectors will visit schools during the autumn term, and we will await the conclusions outlined in their review.”
The Minister added: “The outcome of the review will guide our work as we look to do more to keep children and young people safe – including the statutory addition of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) to the new Curriculum for Wales, from 2022.”
Aims of the review
- the incidence of peer-on-peer sexual harassment in schools in Wales
- how schools’ safeguarding cultures encourage and empower pupils to stand up to their peers and report all forms of sexual harassment.
- existing guidance and support for schools and other relevant agencies who work directly with children and young people.
- effective practice seen by inspectors during visits to help schools as they prepare for the new curriculum - especially for relationships and sexuality education (RSE).
The evidence base:
- Visits to a representative sample of secondary and independent boarding schools across Wales. These schools will not be named in the report. Inspectors will meet with headteachers, senior leaders, teachers, support staff and pupil focus groups and ask pupils to complete a short questionnaire.
- Interviews with agencies that work with children and young people/ support schools.
- A comprehensive review of research, guidance, toolkits available to support victims, perpetrators and school staff.
Notes to editors
 sexual abuse that happens between children of a similar age or stage of development. It can happen between any number of children and can affect any age group (Department for Education (DfE), 2021a). It can be harmful to the children who display it as well as those who experience it.
 persistent unwanted conduct of a sexual nature by a child towards another child that can occur online and offline. Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment. (Department for Education, UK Government, Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges: advice for governing bodies, proprietors, headteachers, principals, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads)