On 12 September 2018, DfE Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi spoke at Farrer & Co's annual safeguarding event about the department's guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between pupils.
Mr Zahawi thanked Carlene Firmin and other organisations, including Farrer & Co, The National Police Chiefs Council, Barnardos, Childnet, Girlguiding and the NSPCC, for their help in drafting the DfE advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, that was revised in May.
Speaking about the role everyone plays in safeguarding children, Mr Zahawi made the following statement:
‘I’m also impressed and extremely interested in Carlene’s work with regard to contextual safeguarding. I know Carlene has worked closely with officials across my department, but especially with those from my child protection and safeguarding in schools teams. I am pleased to see threats that children and young people face from outside the home and their wider context reflected in the recent updates to our statutory guidance.’
The Minister reiterated the importance of ensuring that sexual violence and harassment are never ‘dismissed as banter’ and of adopting whole-school or college approaches to combating all forms of peer-on-peer abuse. In line with this, we have published a range of resources to help practitioners working with schools assess and tackle harmful sexual behaviour in schools. Moreover, Farrer & Co’s revised toolkit on peer-on-peer abuse in schools, which we contributed to, will soon be made available on our Resources page.
In his speech, Mr Zahawi also outlined new measures to combat peer-on-peer abuse. An online safety working group of sector experts is being set-up to consider how online safety can be reflected in future safeguarding advice and guidance. A key aspect of this work will focus on online peer-on-peer abuse.
As many of you will be aware of, Relationships Education will be made compulsory in all primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education in all secondary schools and Health Education compulsory in all state funded schools. The minister thanked all those who contributed to DfE’s call for information on relationship and sex education - over 23,000 responses were received, including many responses from schools, parents and young people.
We are encouraged to see how far Contextual Safeguarding has come in the past year as we continue to embed Contextual Safeguarding within Hackney’s Children and Families service and we look forward to working with three new local authorities (yet to be chosen) as part of our scale up process.