UK training provider The Skills Network offers sexual consent training for post 16 educators across the country

Following the introduction of a revised Ofsted inspection framework, schools across England are now inspected and judged on the effectiveness of their safeguarding policies following sexual harassment concerns in schools

Following the introduction of a revised Ofsted inspection framework, schools across England are now inspected and judged on the effectiveness of their safeguarding policies following sexual harassment concerns in schools


The demand for tighter safeguarding regulations in schools and colleges throughout the country comes following thousands of anonymous sexual abuse testimonials and accounts of the sexual harassment endured by young people were flagged to Ofsted.

In a review involving thirty-two schools and colleges, as well as over 900 children and young people Ofsted found that “for some children, the incidents [of sexual harassment] are so commonplace that they see no point in reporting them” according to the Government website. Findings highlighted that 90% of girls, and nearly 50% of boys said “being sent explicit pictures or videos of things they did not want to see happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers” said the government website. Worse still, the review found that many of the teachers and leaders within education settings underestimated the scale of the sexual harassment facing young people. “They either did not identify sexual harassment and sexualised language as problematic, or they were unaware they were happening and consistently underestimated the prevalence of online sexual abuse” said the government website.

Nationally the problem of sexual harassment and crimes is extensive. According to the NSPCC, a shocking 31% of young women aged 18-24 report having experienced sexual abuse in childhood. Similarly, research conducted by the NSPCC which involved 2,275 young people aged 11-17 who were asked about their experiences of sexual abuse, suggests that around 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and the issue is only growing. Nationally collected statistics suggest that in the year ending March 2020 there had been an increase of approximately 267% of sexual abuse cases since 2013. One quarter of all child sexual abuse involved a perpetrator under the age of 18 and a disproportionate number of girls are affected by these crimes, with 90% of recorded offences of rape in 2018 to 2019 in children aged 13 to 15 being committed against girls.

Following Ofsted’s review the Department of Education revised statuary guidance, strengthening the protocol for handling sexual misconduct in education settings nationally.

Supporting educators throughout the country, The Skills Network introduced a new sexual consent course in the summer offering training which covers four key areas of concerns:

  • Defining consent
  • Defining sexual harassment, sexual assault and their myths and misconceptions
  • How do you gain consent
  • Responding to events and how to signpost

The course provides training on key legal information, including the definitions of consent, sexual assault, and harassment as well as information on the five F’s (Fight, Flight, Friend, Flop and Freeze). It also provides key information on identifying and responding to assaults, providing support to education providers nationally in fighting the harassment facing young people today.

The content can be deployed to all staff and students via The Skills Network’s award-winning Learner Management System EQUAL which provides a range of desirable benefits for both educators and learners. EQUAL is a cloud-based learning platform that allows education institutions to create, deliver, and track online learning. The platform uses videos, virtual tutorials, and online assessments to cater for a variety of learning styles.

The development of the courses comes following a stream of innovative content and technology the training provider has launched to the market, with the likes of an initial assessment tool and diagnostic assessment tool providing pre-emptive indicators of student success rates and tailoring learning journeys to the needs of the individual, while their CLFP tool is providing educators around the country with invaluable financial support.

The Skills Network’s course in Sexual Consent is auto assessed, offering education providers and employers the confidence that the content is understood by those who sit the course. The Skills Network also provide all course learners with a designated Learning Support Advisor to track and support their progress throughout their learning journey. This unique approach to distanced learning offered by The Skills Network has contributed to a pass rate of 90% on their training courses.

In pursuit of developing a culture that impedes the capacity for sexual harassment and crimes, Ofsted and ISI now explicitly offer inspectors powers to address how education providers are managing sexual abuse and harassment.

Ofsted advise that education providers should lead with a whole school/college approach in developing a culture that will not tolerate sexual harassment and abuse. This involves staff modelling “respectful and appropriate behaviour, where children and young people are clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and where they are confident to ask for help and support when they need it” said the government website.

  • Now, guidance suggests a need for “a carefully sequenced RSHE curriculum, based on the Department for Education’s new statutory guidance” said the government website. This specifically involves education on sexual harassment and sexual violence both online and offline.
  • More training for teachers in delivering the highest quality RSHE education
  • High level record-keeping and analysing of sexual misconduct to identify concerning behavior and intervene early.
  • An approach to behavior which includes appropriate sanctions to re-enforce the zero-tolerance policy of such behavior
  • Working with Learning Support Practitioners to provide young people with support should they need it
  • Support for safeguarding leads to ensure the highest quality safeguarding provisions
  • Training to ensure all staff can better understand the definitions of sexual harassment of all natures, identify peer-on-peer sexual abuse and consistently uphold high standards in response to sexual harassment of all natures.

The Skills Network was one of the first Independent Training Providers to develop an expert sexual consent course.

Mark Dawe, CEO of The Skills Network says: “Ofsted’s findings following a review of safeguarding within schools were deeply concerning, highlighting a gap in training on a national scale. As the UK’s leading provider of online training content and resources, we worked quickly and expertly to develop a provision to support education providers with the delivery of the highest quality sexual consent training.

“Following its launch in September our Sexual Consent course has trained thousands of young people on this critical subject and we are proud to have led in the development of this course.

“All education providers must protect and support children and young people, and through our sexual consent training we hope to continue to ensure that all young people throughout our country experience the safest and happiest journey during their time in education”.

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