Schools will run the risk of being graded “inadequate” by Ofsted if their processes for tackling sexual harassment, online sexual abuse and sexual violence are not effective, the new inspection handbook has made clear.

From September, inspectors will expect schools to “assume that sexual harassment, online sexual abuse and sexual violence are happening in and around the school” – even when there are no specific reports.

Ofsted will want to see in place a whole-school approach to address these issues, with the new handbook instructing inspectors to look specifically for preventative measures, including behaviour policies, pastoral support and the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) curriculum.

Schools will be expected to be “alert to” factors that increase children’s potential vulnerability to sexual abuse and must also address the barriers that prevent children from reporting incidents.

The updated handbook states: “Inspectors will expect schools to be alert to factors that increase vulnerability or potential vulnerability such as mental ill health, domestic abuse, children with additional needs, and children from groups at greater risk of exploitation and/or of feeling unable to report abuse (for example, girls and LGBT children).

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