Earlier this month, our spokeswoman Tanya Carter was invited to talk to interested MPs and peers on the subject of child safeguarding. Her talk gives a good overview of what Safe Schools Alliance are trying to achieve. It is transcribed in full below with links.
*This transcript contains references to Child Sexual Abuse and screenshots describing degrading sex acts*
Thank you for having me here and thank you to everyone who has come along to listen.
I’m one of the spokeswomen for Safe Schools Alliance. We are a grassroots group of carers, teachers, governors and other health and educational professionals, with an interest in safeguarding children.
Our aim is to ensure that safeguarding is upheld in schools and that the Equality Act is correctly interpreted, being mindful of the rights of all nine protected characteristics, to ensure that schools are properly inclusive environments, which are welcoming and tolerant of all members of their parent and student community.
We supported child claimants against Oxfordshire County Council, and the CPS. Oxfordshire County Council, which you mentioned, they released their Trans Inclusion Toolkit, which didn’t take account of safeguarding, it didn’t take account of all the protected characteristics, and it removed the very children it claimed it was helping from established safeguarding frameworks.
We originally had three claimants – we had a teacher claimant, a student claimant and a parent claimant – and then the judicial review was granted to the child claimant, who was concerned that this toolkit stripped her of her right to single-sex sports, toilets, changing rooms and overnight accommodation.
We were granted the judicial review after a high court judge found that the Oxfordshire Trans Inclusion Toolkit was arguably unlawful. Rather than defend the toolkit in court, Oxfordshire withdrew the toolkit and it won’t be coming back. However, there are several similar toolkits (1) throughout the country, all of which seem to be based on Allsorts’ guidance, which was itself based on the original Cornwall guidance from 2012, all of which had been heavily influenced by Stonewall and seem to prioritise political ideology over safeguarding.
The other case we supported was against the CPS, who had produced a hate crimes pack for schools that again had similar problems, in that it breached the boundaries of girls and told them that they had no right to choose their own friends, single-sex sports, changing rooms, all other spaces you’d expect to be single-sex for reasons of privacy and dignity, and insinuated that if they objected to having males in their spaces, this may be a hate crime.
We are very in favour of properly inclusive relationship and sex education in schools but safeguarding must always come first. I’m an ex-chair of governors, I’m an early years practitioner, I’ve spent my entire adult life caring for children, I have 20 years’ experience working with children in voluntary and paid positions and, during that time, I’ve had a lot of safeguarding training, including safer recruitment training, as I’ve been involved in recruiting people to work in schools and with children.
Safer recruitment came out of the Bichard Inquiry and the Warner Report and is based on the premise that it’s easier to prevent predators or unsuitable people from entering your organisation than it is to remove them once they are there.
We believe that safeguarding and safer recruitment need to be extended and strengthened, but not just people who work directly with children, but people producing materials and policies and resources that affect children should also be subject to very stringent safeguarding and safer recruitment.
We’re very concerned with a lot of the RSE materials we have seen; that they don’t consider the rights of all children. Particularly, the people who have written them don’t seem to understand the effects some of these materials could have on children who have been abused.
We know that in any class of 30 children, there will be at least one child who has suffered sexual abuse, probably many more (2). Statistics show us how prevalent child sexual abuse is and that many children who are abused won’t disclose this till adulthood, if at all. Many won’t even realise that they have been abused.
During their sex education lessons, that may be the point they realise that what has happened to them is actually abuse and is wrong. So, it is really important that children, and especially children that have been abused and nobody knows about this, are prioritised in the delivery of all these lessons. Many materials we have seen don’t do this.
We, again, were involved in campaigning against the Respect Yourself RSE in Warwickshire. That claimed to be inclusive RSE but there was some horrifying stuff in there; it told children that bukkake, which is an extreme porn act, could be liberating. It suggested anal sex as a way of avoiding pregnancy. Whilst describing a term ‘felching’ to children, it described all sex as ‘icky’. It was really – there were a lot of problems with this.
This has now been withdrawn but Johnny Hunt, who was behind it, is still involved in RSE, recently wrote for TES an article on teaching sexual citizenship and pleasure to schoolchildren which, again, didn’t seem to acknowledge the effect this could have on children who have been subject to abuse.
Sorry, I’m running out of time now, but quickly another one we campaigned against to have changed was the pack from Asda, which lots of distressed parents contacted us about, because it contained slogans such as “Love is love” and “Love has no age”. Parents contacted us who had been abused as children, who said that these were phrases their abusers had used to them and they were really distressed to see these phrases in RSE materials.
So, yes, I think that’s the end of my time. I could talk forever on this. Safeguarding is a real passion of mine, but when this video goes out we will include links and screenshots of all the scenarios I’ve referred to, and people are welcome to get in touch if they want further information on anything.Tanya Carter, September 2021
(1) Other similar toolkits
(2) Statistics on child sexual abuse
Estimations of the prevalence of CSA vary widely:
These figures suggest 2-3 children in a class of 30
though these from America suggest 6 in a class of 30