CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

School assault claims could mean sex education rethink

Camden Council said it was working with schools across the borough to tackle the issues

13 April, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

Camden School for Girls

STATE schools in Camden are reviewing their teaching on sex and relationships after claims of serious sexual abuse taking place across the sector.

Hundreds of complaints have been posted online by current and former pupils in both private and state schools of serious sexual assault and rape taking place, and at parties where girls claimed they had been too drunk to consent to having sex.

Walkouts took place at Highgate School and Parliament Hill School last month, in separate protests about a “rape culture”, and over a presentation at the latter where the #NotALLMen social media hashtag was used.

The Everyone’s Invited website, which has been where many accounts have been posted, is now asking people for suggestions on what change is needed to help stop sexual assault and “rape culture” where harassment is normalised.

Camden Council said it was working with schools across the borough to tackle the issues.

Camden School for Girls, in Sandall Road, said it was consulting on changes to its relationship and sex education (RSE) content as well as other procedures.

Headteacher Elizabeth Kitcatt said: “We will never tolerate such behaviour and we have strong pastoral support in place for students.

“Nevertheless, this is an issue about which there should never be complacency and we are reviewing our practices, policies, training and curriculum to make sure our approach to safeguarding is as rigorous and effective as it can possibly be.”

Parliament Hill School said it would be continuing to explore the issues raised as part of its “feminist curriculum”.

One headteacher at a Camden secondary school claimed that while the problem was serious, its scale was being overstated.

They added: “It’s absolutely appalling what we’ve heard nationally, and I’m not saying there’s not problems in every school, but there is a risk of this being overstated – and parents and students worrying that schools are a hotbed of sexual abuse.

“We’re always reviewing our policies, but the number of cases on the level that is being spoken about is normally one, and very rarely rises above that in any school year.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “We take these concerns very seriously and are working with our schools and other relevant agencies to properly understand the issues being raised and to respond appropriately.

“Our children’s safety is our number one priority.”

Last week, Highgate School, the private school in Highgate village, ordered an independent investigation into entries on the website and concerns raised by pupils.

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