According to a study by Plan International UK, 66% of girls aged 14 to 21 have experienced unwanted sexual attention or harassment in public. Nine in ten girls who spoke to Ofsted during a recent review said that sexist name-calling and receiving unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes. tpm is committed to challenging this shocking culture and supporting all learners and staff who may experience it.
Last year people widely shared the website Everyone’s Invited. It encouraged people to talk about their experience of sexual harassment within schools, colleges, and universities across the UK. The website allowed survivors to anonymously post their experiences to highlight the issue of rape culture. Rape culture is when attitudes, behaviours and beliefs in society have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence. This culture includes misogyny, rape jokes, sexual harassment, online sexual abuse (upskirting, non-consensual sharing of intimate photos, cyberflashing), and sexual coercion. When behaviours such as these are normalised, this can lead to more extreme acts such as sexual assault and rape. The website successfully got conversations flowing about this culture, and many were shocked at the extent of the problem.
The testimonies given by many people on the Everyone’s Invited website are reinforced by research by the National Union of Students (NUS), Universities UK, Ofsted, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The research found that the problem was more widespread than had been realised. The research also found that many schools, colleges, and universities were not doing enough to tackle the problem. Moreover, they found that victims of harassment often didn’t report it because there was no point. The research found that many teachers and leaders consistently underestimate the scale of the problem. They either didn’t identify sexual harassment and sexualised language as significant problems and didn’t treat them seriously, or were unaware they were happening.
Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman gave her feelings on the findings in last year’s Ofsted review into sexual harassment:
“This review shocked me. It’s alarming that many children and young people, particularly girls, feel they have to accept sexual harassment as part of growing up. Whether it’s happening at school or in their social life, they simply don’t feel it’s worth reporting.”
The Ofsted review recommended that school and college leaders should develop a culture where all kinds of sexual harassment are recognised and addressed, including with sanctions when appropriate. Furthermore, they recommend that teachers and leaders have high-quality training to support students effectively.
tpm Leading the Way
At tpm, a culture of calling out harassment is already encouraged. A2 posters are dotted around the training centre explaining how to challenge harassment and how to spot it. Learners and staff are encouraged to talk about experiences and reassured that they will be listened to. Tutors and trainers regularly remind learners that they can speak with trained staff. Moreover, they know who the safeguarding officers are. tpm even has Mental Health Champions there for anyone who is struggling. Former tpm learners often mention the nurturing environment at tpm in reviews. Furthermore, tpm encourages mutual respect between staff and learners, creating an atmosphere of trust. There is regular open engagement between staff and learners. This has been the culture at tpm long before last year.
If you are concerned about sexual harassment or are affected by any of the issues raised, please speak to our safeguarding officers. You can find their phone numbers and an online contact form here.