https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/13/education-in-the-media-13-september-2016/

Education in the media: 13 September 2016

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Today’s new review looks at coverage about a report on sexual harassment and violence in schools and funding for infant free school meals.

Women and Equalities Select Committee

Today, 13 September, The Women and Equalities Select Committee published its report on sexual harassment and violence in schools. The headline findings are:

  • almost a third (29%) of 16-18 year old girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school,
  • nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18 year old boys and girls say they hear terms such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at schools on a regular basis; and
  • 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.

The report was picked up widely in the media, including by the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Metro, Daily Telegraph, Times , Sun and Mirror, who referenced how the report says the government doesn’t have a sufficient plan to tackle this and calls for children to have access to high quality sex and relationship education.

We have been clear that any offence of this kind must always be reported to police and we trust teachers to take swift action to deal with this sort of behaviour.

A Government spokesperson said:

Sexual assault of any kind is an offence and must always be reported to the police. Schools should be safe places and fortunately crime is rare but no young person should suffer harassment or violence. We trust teachers to promote a culture of tolerance in the classroom and to take swift action to deal with this sort of behaviour. This is backed up by mandatory sex and relationship education in all maintained secondary schools. We will consider the recommendations of this report carefully.

Infant free school meals

Today, the Guardian reported on concerns around food provision in small schools as a result of alleged underfunding of infant free school meals.

The piece says that the small schools grant was ‘axed’ by the Department for Education, which was used to help subsidise school meals.

This is not true. We were clear from the start that the funding to help small schools with the transition to universal infant free school meals was a short term offering, initially for one year and then extended for a second.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

To help small schools with the transition to universal infant free school meals, £32.5milllion was invested to help them put their meals service on a sustainable footing. This was in addition to more than £600 million a year for the policy as a whole. We were always clear that this was not long term funding.

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