Independent schools are “devastated” by the allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape appearing on the Everyone’s Invited website and are “seeking to learn lessons” from what has happened, the chief executive of the ISC has told BBC News.
Julie Robinson told news presenter Victoria Derbyshire that the emerging allegations were “a huge wake up call” and that schools were “reviewing their school culture and processes”.
She said: “It’s a huge wake up call for all of us to know that these sorts of things have been going on and school’s safeguarding procedures haven’t picked them up. So we come into this devastated by what appears to be going on and seeking to learn lessons from it and speak to those who are bringing forward stories and ask them for their support and advice and engage together.
“Because it’s an issue for schools, it’s for wider society, it’s for universities and we all need to work together as parents and teachers and citizens to make sure we call out sexual harassment so that sort of behaviour doesn’t continue.”
She said that schools were “absolutely determined to grasp the issue” and bring in “stronger disciplinary measures” and review their school culture and processes to “make it easier for young people to be part of the process.”
Dr Simon Hyde, general secretary of the HMC, said: “We are deeply saddened to read these distressing accounts. All schools are a microcosm of the society in which they operate, and gendered violence, harassment and abuse have no place in either.
“The welfare and safety of young people is the primary concern of all HMC schools, evidenced by the growth of and investment in provision for pastoral care and support.
“Our members are listening and willing to act, but it is more difficult to act effectively on anonymised allegations, and we urge those affected to seek support and redress through their schools.”
Police are reviewing the 8,000 testimonies on the Everyone’s Invited website and contacting schools where they have been named.