A WHITEHALL investigation has been launched into Britain’s elite schools amid fears of an emerging “rape culture” scandal.
Officials from the Department of Education and Home Office are leading the response with police chiefs and Ofsted.
A sign attached to a tree is seen outside the entrance of the Highgate School in LondonCredit: Reuters
Inspectors from Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate are ready to launch surprise investigations in schools if safety concerns are raised, Whitehall sources told the Telegraph.
A senior officer had said that thousands of former and current pupils had come forward as a result of the Everyone’s Invited website – a site that shone a “light on peer-on-peer abuse within educational settings across the UK.”
Government advice on sexual harassment and sexual violence between kids in schools and colleges is now being revised and will be in force by the beginning of the next academic year, the Telegraph reports.
Sources confirmed that officials from the Government and ministers will be meeting in the coming weeks.
“We take all allegations and concerns about sexual abuse or violence extremely seriously and are working with multi-agency safeguarding partners to ensure the safety of all children in all schools, including in independent schools,” the source added.
“Where schools do not meet the strict safeguarding standards that we have in place, we will always take action.
“If it becomes clear that there are current failings in any school’s safeguarding practice, we will immediately ask Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate to conduct an inspection.
“If a school is found to not be meeting the required safeguarding standard, we will make sure it either improves or closes.”
On Friday the Met Police launched an investigation saying it had received reports of offences from pupils.
Officers reviewed multiple distressing accounts from girls on Everyone’s Invited about harassment, abuse and assault from male pupils.
Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead for child abuse and investigation said today that: “thousands of children and young people have come forward to report allegations of sexual offences within schools”.
He added: “We will now work at pace with Everyone’s Invited and partners, including the Home Office and Department for Education, to progress a joint response.
“If victims wish to report sexual abuse to the police, they can be confident that they will be believed and treated with compassion and respect before a thorough investigation is undertaken.”
It comes after a top private school was rocked by a 21-page dossier on “rape culture” compiled by pupils allegedly abused by classmates.
Current and former students at the £14,000-a-term Westminster School, which has churned out six prime ministers, have made a string of abuse claims.
Some have accused the top private school in London of creating an environment where “harassment and abuse was a fact of everyday life for female students”.
The 21-page document includes 76 entries from pupils, The Times reported.
Allegations include pupils left traumatised and humiliated after being forced to perform sex acts on boys against their will.
Others claim they were threatened with sexual assault and jokes were made about students being “gang rape” victims.
Westminster School pupils claim they were abused