The shockwaves of Ofsted’s review of sexual harassment and abuse in schools can still be felt. Schools are now responding. Lucy Emmerson looks at the role of effective RSE as part of this response


The findings of the review of sexual abuse (Ofsted, 2021) are an alarming wake-up call about the normalisation of sexual harassment and abuse among young people and the extent to which this affects every school.

All schools in England are now required by law to deliver a robust programme of relationships education in primary school and relationships and sex education (RSE) lessons in secondary school.

Government guidance (DfE, 2019) provides a broad and full range of content to cover, but how do schools know if their curriculum goes deep enough in addressing sexual harassment and abuse?

Young people have repeatedly called out the gaps in their RSE (and indeed poor RSE was reported by many students surveyed for Ofsted’s review). Key information about what a healthy relationship looks like, discussion about pornography and sexual pleasure are frequently neglected or missed altogether.

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