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Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week highlights concerns about safety in schools

The inaugural Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week will examine what it means to feel safe and explore what schools can do to protect all their students.

The theme is Everyone has a right to feel safe. And everyone can help to achieve that.

Taking place this week (May 16-22), Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week is a chance to shine a light on the critical issue of safeguarding in schools, particularly in the light of recent reports of the rise of sexual harassment in schools.

Tes carried out a survey of school staff . The key findings of the new research in the South West are:

• More than three quarters (78 per cent) of school staff surveyed feel there are more safeguarding concerns raised now than before the pandemic

• Almost a fifth (18 per cent) of school staff surveyed do not think pupils feel safe at their school. This is actually lower than the national average of 23 per cent

• Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of school staff surveyed do not think pupils feel confident in reporting concerns they have to a member of school staff

• 22 per cent of school staff surveyed do not feel confident in handling reports of sexual harassment, abuse or violence

• 40 per cent of school staff surveyed do not feel that there is sufficient guidance for schools overall on how to deal with allegations of sexual harassment and violence

Last year, the DfE updated the Ofsted inspection handbook, so that schools must have adequate processes for dealing with harmful sexual behaviour, but as this new data shows, teachers and school staff are still concerned.

During Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week, Tes will share with schools a range of tools and resources, as well as live webinars, hosted by experienced safeguarding experts, to examine what it means to feel safe and how schools and colleges can put preventative measures in place to guard against sexual harassment and abuse.

There will be a live webinar on the topic of online sexual harassment, with experts Will Gardner (CEO, Childnet International) and David Wright (director of the UK Safer Internet Centre at SWGfL). Another webinar will focus on disclosures: what are the practical do's and don'ts for schools? This will be led by Dr Matthew McVarish, an actor, sexual abuse survivor and global activist.

Dawn Jotham, pastoral and safeguarding lead for Tes, said: "Safeguarding is an ongoing priority in schools. Everyone in a school must act to protect those in their community. By running Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week, we are supporting schools as they continue in those endeavours throughout the academic year and beyond.

"We will use Tes Safeguarding Awareness Week to give access to the very latest insight and analysis, to discuss with teaching and leadership staff on the ground how they are promoting safeguarding in their schools and deliver a range of tools for schools to use every day."

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