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Personal Development

At Todmorden High School it is our intent to develop engaged, active and well informed young citizens. Our school vision: enabling individuals to unlock their unique potential, and our core values: Ambition, Respect, Care and Honesty lend themselves perfectly to this ongoing agenda. Students are rewarded for their engagement with these values on a day-by-day basis, leading to the development of character and grit within all learners. Every learning opportunity, be it in a classroom, on a trip, in an assembly or focus session, in an after school club or within the wealth of additional provision offered, is designed with each student’s personal development in mind. Our curriculum is ambitious and goes beyond the limits of the National Curriculum in our desire to allow each student in our care to develop their knowledge skills and understanding through exposure to the best of what has been thought and written. It is the ambition of our school that every student leaves us ready for the next phase of their education, having secured the best outcomes for themselves that they possibly can so that they are ready to play an active role in the contemporary adult world.

The school values of ‘Ambition, Respect, Care & Honesty’ are how we drive SMSC in our school, by encouraging our students to embrace the fundamental British Values.

  • Democracy.
  • The rule of law.
  • Individual liberty.
  • Mutual respect.
  • Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.

To view our Relationships, Health and Sexual Education policy please see the policies area of our website. 

Peer-on-Peer Abuse

Peer-on-Peer abuse has been very much in the media recently. As social norms have changed, and society has become more enlightened, people are, quite rightly, drawing attention to historical and contemporary abuses in a host of fields. Peer-on-peer abuse is just one of those fields and, last summer, Ofsted published their report into peer-on-peer abuse in schools and colleges in England and Wales. You can find the full report here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges

As a school, we have been raising our community awareness on this important issue and students have had an increased focus on related issues in ARCH Days and Wednesdays, as well as in normal timetabled lessons, where there are opportunities. We want our students to know what acceptable behaviour is, and what is not, and to understand the potential consequences of inappropriate actions. We also want our students to feel empowered to challenge inappropriate behaviour, whether it is directed at them of a peer.

The term ‘peer-on-peer’ sexual abuse includes:

  • sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault.

  • sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be stand-alone or part of a broader pattern of abuse.

  • upskirting, which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm.

  • sexting (also known as ‘youth-produced sexual imagery’).

Peer-on-peer abuse can often happen online. Again, it can take a variety of forms, including:

  • receiving explicit photographs or videos, (young people might use a slang term, such as ‘nudes’) which you haven’t asked for.

  • sending, or being pressured to send, nude and semi-nude photographs or videos (‘nudes’).

  • being sent or shown explicit material, such as pornographic videos You might have actively searched for these, or you might not.

  • Typical platforms for sharing material between peers tended to be WhatsApp or Snapchat.

Sadly, the Ofsted report concluded that peer-on-peer abuse of this nature is widespread. Their advice to ALL schools is to assume it is widespread in that institution, too, even if there has been no actual reports. Statistics taken from the Ofsted national survey include that:

  • 90% of girls and 50% of boys in secondary schools and colleges had been sent explicit pictures.

  • Students were more likely to feel unsafe in areas of school unsupervised by staff, or on the way to/from school.

  • Girls are more likely to experience sexual abuse and harassment than boys – 1/3 of all female high school students report that they have experienced sexual abuse/harassment.

  • Girls felt that sometimes they were left to educate the boys about what is/ isn’t sexual harassment, rather than boys being taught that by teachers.

Research indicates that, even though many schools now have highly trained safeguarding teams and staff teams dedicated to student welfare, young people are MOST likely to report abuse to their friends, rather than adults. For this reason, we need to make sure all students are educated and able to offer appropriate support and advice to peers who may report abuse to them, so that they can signpost them to agencies and services best placed to help.

Since 2013, there has been a 267% increase in the reporting of peer-on-peer abuse. It is likely that this does not reveal a rise in incidences of these offences, but rather a rise in the confidence of victims to reveal what is happening to them, and greater feeling of empowerment. This empowerment must be maintained, and all young people should feel that they will be supported if they report their experiences any form of peer-on-peer abuse. To best support our students, all staff and governors will be receiving training in peer-on-peer abuse this term, and we will participating in the Calderdale-wide peer-on-peer abuse review in May.

As a wider initiative, we have relaunched our anonymous portal which allows students to report bullying or abuse anonymously. You can see this information on the posters below. We are also reflecting on our practice and are considering how we investigate any allegations when they are reported, so that any intrusion is minimised and students do not feel highlighted as a consequence of their bravery and resilience in reporting their experiences. Student Voice panels will also be discussing their experiences and concerns around this issue so that we can take steps to address these.

We hope that, through collaborative working and regular open dialogue, we can make Todmorden High School, and the wider community, a safe space when all can thrive, allowing all individuals to unlock their unique potential.