ASCL statement on Everyone’s Invited

30/03/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the experiences of sexual violence and abuse reported on the Everyone’s Invited website.
 
Commenting on the experiences of sexual violence and abuse reported on the Everyone’s Invited website, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“The testimonies posted on the Everyone’s Invited website are utterly horrifying and the behaviour described is not only unacceptable but in many cases constitutes a serious sexual offence.
 
“Media reporting of these testimonies has focused on the role of schools. In fact, these testimonies involve young people, in schools and universities, in a wide variety of circumstances, often outside school premises in settings such as parties.
 
“This is not to minimise the vital responsibility of schools in tackling sexual violence and sexual harassment, and instilling good values in young people and respect for one another. Our experience is that schools work very hard on all aspects of safeguarding, and take these matters extremely seriously.
 
“However, it is also clear that this is a wider issue than what happens in schools. Parents have a responsibility to talk to their children about how they behave towards others. Social media companies have a responsibility to take more care about how their platforms are used. The criminal justice system has a responsibility to show young people that it can be trusted to prosecute and bring to justice sexual offenders.
 
“A great deal of work has already been done on the issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools. Four years ago, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee investigated this issue and produced a report and recommendations. This led to new guidance from the Department for Education which was developed with the input of school and college leaders.
 
“ASCL will be recirculating this information to our members today in light of the testimonies on Everyone’s Invited. We will also be discussing what more can be done to support schools and colleges in this work and tackle the abhorrent behaviour described on the website. We are very keen to involve a wide coalition, both within and outside the education sector, to help us in this process, and have begun to share thoughts with a number of organisations on how we might work together.
 
“We would also encourage the young people on Everyone’s Invited who are victims of sexual offences to report these matters to the police. These incidents are serious criminal matters and the perpetrators should be punished.”