In March 2021, the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’ referred to distressing and unacceptable behaviours by young people that have asked questions of the way that schools guide, educate and support their pupils on matters surrounding equality and mutual respect. At Emanuel, this has led us towards a full and thorough process of reflection. We have enhanced our current provision relating to these matters by developing a bespoke and robust response to ensure that kindness and understanding remains at the heart of our day-to-day relationships in school, outside of school and online.
Put simply, we wish to make sure that every young person treats their peers with respect in all ways, at all times; and we wish to be clear and together as a community in the way that we do this. The headmaster has repeated this message through open forum meetings with pupils, assemblies and letters to parents and pupils.
At the end of the spring term, the school held pupil forums in the Sixth Form, Years 10 and 11, and Year 9 respectively. These platforms provided pupils with an opportunity to reflect on the issues raised by ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and for the school to listen to the thoughts of our community. Pupils in the Lower School were afforded similar opportunities through their Life Education lessons.
We have established three pupil voice groups (Lower School, Middle School, and Sixth Form) with the purpose of addressing issues of gender equality and mutual respect to shape the school’s actions over the coming years, to ensure Emanuel remains the kind and respectful community we wish it to be.
The stated aims of these groups are as follows:
- To audit the school’s curriculum on the teaching of relationship and sex education; focussing on areas around consent, healthy relationships, and sexualised behaviour;
- To review the school’s provision for pupils making disclosures regarding sexual assault or harassment or raising any other concern taking place within or outside of school; ensuring there is a process which pupil are comfortable using;
- To review any school practices or policies that relate to the behaviour towards female pupils and gender equality;
- To identify any new initiatives that help to promote and build respectful relationships between female and male pupils;
- To provide opportunities for pupils and staff to be heard.
Pupils were invited to apply in writing for these section groups and we were delighted – although not surprised – by the positive response from girls and boys across the school.
We have taken this opportunity to conduct additional safeguarding training for all teaching and support staff. We have specifically looked to highlight behaviours between peers that all schools should be alert to, the mechanisms for reporting concerns for both pupils and staff, how staff can support pupils who wish to raise concerns and what actions are required on receiving those concerns.
All pupils have now received a presentation outlining the support available within school and externally, and how they can raise any concerns with us.
We have reviewed our safeguarding policy and any other related polices considering the Ofsted safeguarding review currently being conducted. This has required reference to the newly established NSPCC helpline (further information is available here). All staff have been required to read these updated policies.
We will continue to ensure our safeguarding practices and training is regularly reviewed.
Relationship and Sex Education
As part of our response, we have looked closely at our current programme and are targeting any additional areas for development next year to help support and improve our teaching. This will include establishing new working relationships with experts in the field to ensure our teaching is effective and addresses the concerns raised by ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and other media.
Our statutory responsibilities
We remain in close contact with the Local Authority Safeguarding in Education officer and the police to ensure we have continued to fulfil our responsibilities with regards testimonials on ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and in other media. We wish to support any pupil – former or current – who has raised concerns and continue to encourage them to speak with us.
Furthermore, we have also reviewed all our actions with the NSPCC who have confirmed the thoroughness of our approach.
The governing body receives a regular update of our procedures and response to equality and mutual respect matters during termly meetings.
We recognise that many of the themes and behaviours highlighted go beyond the school and are subject to wider societal influences that are beyond our control. However, we understand that we have a responsibility and opportunity to ensure our school models how we wish society to act and behave.
We are extremely thankful for our community in responding to these challenging matters in such a thoughtful and considered way. Our ability to engage in such a constructive dialogue with our pupils and their parents, often about difficult subjects, is central to ensuring we maintain the unique atmosphere we all cherish at Emanuel.
How to contact us
As always, should you have any safeguarding concerns then please contact a member of the safeguarding team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.