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Warning: This briefing discusses sexual harassment which may be distressing.

All schools in England must have a child protection policy in place, including measures in relation to protecting children from sexual harassment, whether from staff members or their peers.  Relevant policies are in place relating to behaviour at school, bullying, and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Guidance and curriculum

Keeping Children Safe in Education is the statutory guidance to which all schools and colleges in England must regard when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The most recent version came into force in September 2023.

Statutory Relationships Education at primary school, and Relationships and Sex Education at secondary level, became compulsory in all English schools from September 2020. Statutory guidance has been published on the reformed subjects.

Ofsted review

In March 2021, the Government asked Ofsted to undertake an immediate review of safeguarding policies in state and independent schools with relation to sexual harassment and abuse. The review was published in June 2021. It depicted widespread sexual harassment in schools, and made recommendations for action in schools, government, and Ofsted to combat the problem.

Scope of briefing

This briefing provides an overview of the relevant policies schools are expected to have in place on sexual harassment, and recent policy developments.

Education policy is a devolved area, and this briefing focuses on the position in English schools. Links are provided to relevant policies in place in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

A separate Library briefing provides information on Sexual harassment and violence in further and higher education.

Documents to download

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