The heads of all three schools say they take any such allegations very seriously and are currently working with students on this issue.
Soma Sara launched the Everyone’s Invited campaign website after her own experiences as a teenager.
While at university she began sharing her experiences on social media. The overwhelming response led to Soma founding Everyone’s Invited in June 2020 for survivors of such harassment during their school years to share their stories. Since March 8 2021, over 15,000 anonymous testimonies have been submitted and shared on the site. Ofsted has been commissioned to investigate the issue.
The organisation last week publicly named almost 2,962 schools mentioned in testimonies to show the extent of the issue. Of these 2,556 are secondary schools and 406 were primary schools. These include all three secondary schools in Sleaford but it is not stated how each incident was handled. Numerous other Lincolnshire schools have also been named.
The Sleaford schools have responded in a joint statement from all three heads - Nick Law of Carre’s Grammar School, Josephine Smith of Kesteven and Sleaford High School and Laranya Caslin of St George’s Academy.
They state: “Like all schools we are deeply concerned that students in Sleaford have experienced unwanted sexual harassment of any kind and are talking regularly to our students about this to understand their experiences.
“We take any allegation of sexual harassment very seriously and work cooperatively across the town to deal with any instances, as well as each having detailed policies to address any reports or allegations of wrongdoing.
“Each of the three schools is currently working with students to continue our work on this pressing issue. Some of us have set up age appropriate assemblies which raise awareness amongst students as well as present students’ views on how it feels to be the victim of unwanted sexual harassment. We have surveyed students and members of staff to find out whether they feel safe in school and are confident about who to report incidents to. Our senior students are a large part of the discussion, giving us insights and their perspective on the issue.
“Each of the three schools has reviewed its PSHE policies in recent months as well as scoping a curriculum which covers the statutory guidance for Relationship and Sex Education (RSE). This covers education on themes such as consent. We each work with the county’s Stay Safer Partnership who come into our schools to talk to students on themes such as healthy relationships.
“We regularly survey parents on whether their child feels safe at school and are always reassured by the data that comes back, however we are very conscious that the recent Ofsted report talked about students not reporting incidents and we are not complacent in this regard. Constant discussion with students through PSHE lessons, form time, student council meetings and Senior Student team meetings mean we can keep talking to students of all ages about their experiences.
“It’s hugely important to us that students know what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and that all students feel that they can raise issues readily with trusted staff. We are confident that all three schools employ experienced staff who can deal with incidents, we will not tolerate sexual harassment at any level, but we are also mindful of the due care and attention necessary in dealing with issues and the sensitivity of the topic for all involved.
“Finally, we welcome the government’s promise of additional training and support for school staff so that we can ensure that every young person feels that they can talk about their experiences with a receptive and responsible adult who is professionally qualified to give those in our care the very best support.”