60% of girls have heard teachers use sexist language, according to a the #AboutTime new report released on Monday 12th June by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW).
Two years on from the landmark Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges in England and Wales, the report finds major inadequacies in how schools are addressing sexual violence, stemming from government failures to adequately prioritise and invest in vital prevention work.
The report’s newly published data finds:
- 60% of girls have heard teachers use sexist language
- Of the 62% of young women who said comments about their body or uniform have made them feel uncomfortable, 26% said it was a teacher who made the comments
This follows recent EVAW data published in January that found:
- A third of girls think schools wouldn’t take it seriously if they reported sexual harassment
- 80% want schools to do more to tackle this and support young people’s sex and relationships education
The report set outs the wealth of longstanding evidence of its scale and outlines why a Whole School Approach is the most effective way to both transform young people’s experiences at school and prevent violence against women and girls across the whole of society.
In 2020, End Violence Against Women saw a “watershed moment for sexual violence in schools when young people’s experiences were brought to mainstream attention by the Everyone’s Invited movement”. This led the government to task the schools regulator, Ofsted, with reviewing sexual abuse in schools and colleges across England and Wales.
The findings revealed 9 in 10 girls reporting having experienced or witnessed at least one form of harassment or abuse.
The report finds a number of factors blocking progress, including:
- A lack of political will and prioritisation
- Inadequate funding
- Lack of prioritisation from schools
- Lack of training, support and time for school staff
- Issues with government guidance, and its implementation, on how to respond to harm and keep children safe
- Issues with implementation and quality of RSHE
- Greater need to tackle gender inequality and other intersecting forms of oppression
- The need to value the specialist VAWG sector, including ‘by and for’ organisations, and the importance of partnership work
- More investment in research and evaluation of prevention interventions
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“Giving young people the tools and education they need to identify and challenge abuse is vital if we are to have any hope of addressing the prevalence of violence against women and girls. It is truly concerning to hear that schools are not being properly equipped to do this, and that so many young people are hearing sexist remarks from their teachers.
This is why we need a national Whole School Approach programme to look at teacher training needs, the whole school environment, and to ensure specialist expertise from the women’s sector supports the development and delivery of relationships and sex education.
Schools are the best place to build radically different futures. Working together to tackle violence against women not only benefits the whole school community but society as a whole – equipping and empowering young people to unpick harmful gender norms and social inequalities and create a future where everyone thrives.
We urge the government to listen to what young people are asking for, and prioritise investing in delivering a national Whole School Approach programme to ending violence against women and girls – we can’t afford to fail another generation of young people.”