Peterborough pupils among almost 2,000 excluded for sexual misconduct in English schools in 2018-19, but rape charity warns this could be the tip of the iceberg

‘Rape culture’ in privately schools spotlighted by the Everyone’s Invited website has led to investigations more widely over sexual abuse and harassment by pupils in schools.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 4:55 am
Schools in Peterborough excluded pupils for sexual misconduct on almost a dozen occasions in just one year. Photo: PA EMN-210804-123343001
Schools in Peterborough excluded pupils for sexual misconduct on almost a dozen occasions in just one year. Photo: PA EMN-210804-123343001

In light of this it has been revealed schools in Peterborough excluded pupils for sexual misconduct on ten occasions in just one year.

Department for Education figures show Peterborough schools excluded students 10 times for sexual misconduct in 2018-19 – all of which were temporary exclusions.

However, this was a decrease on the previous year, when there were 14.

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All the exclusions occurred in state-funded secondary schools, with none in special or primary schools.

They were among 1,972 sexual misconduct exclusions – which include incidents of sexual abuse, sexual bullying and sexual harassment – across England that year.

The police have been called in and Ofsted has been asked to launch a probe into the nationwide allegations of abuse that have come to light through the ‘rape culture’ website and the handling of such incidents. Many schools are carrying out their own enquiries too.

However, charity Rape Crisis says the figures do not show the true scale of sexual abuse inside schools, following the thousands of allegations by students across England.

Though a 13% drop on the year before, Rape Crisis said the number of exclusions in England will not show the true scale of sexist bullying and sexual violence being perpetrated in schools, particularly against girls.

Katie Russell, national spokeswoman for the charity, added: “We’ve known for a number of years about the high prevalence and serious impacts of sexual violence and abuse in schools.

“The Women and Equalities Select Committee published a comprehensive report into this issue with clear recommendations back in 2016, some of which are yet to be implemented.

“No-one in the Government can claim not to have known about this situation and action clearly should have been taken before now.”

More than 14,000 testimonies have been posted on the Everyone’s Invited website, where pupils can anonymously share their experiences of abuse and assault.

Some students have accused their establishments of not tackling a “rape culture”.

Website founder Soma Sara said the number of students who have the confidence to report incidences of sexual misconduct pales in comparison to the number who have suffered.

The Government announced an immediate review into sexual abuse in schools in the wake of the allegations, while an NSPCC helpline and an Ofsted review were also launched.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s said young victims of harmful sexual behaviour often feel embarrassed or fear they will not be taken seriously.

Javed Khan, chief executive, said: “In some cases exclusions are necessary, but all children displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour must have access to therapeutic support so they can understand, confront and change their behaviour through trauma informed rehabilitation.”

He added that the introduction of statutory relationship education in September was an important step, but much more is needed to prevent harm.

Overall, Peterborough schools excluded pupils 2,341 times in 2018-19 – 2,268 of which were fixed, and 73 permanent.

A Government spokeswoman said: “Where schools do not meet the strict safeguarding standards that we have in place, we will take swift action and we will always back headteachers to remove a pupil from the classroom where this creates a calm and disciplined environment.

“We would encourage anyone who is aware of any specific incidents – and feels comfortable reporting their concerns – to do so.”