Highgate School staff must undergo 'anti-sexism training' over summer

The gates of Highgate School, in North Road

All staff from the Highgate School, in North Road, must undergo 'anti-sexism training' next month, following abuse complaints. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Staff from Highgate School are to spend part of the summer break undergoing anti-sexism training.

A report emailed to parents last week said that in August, all staff at the £7,000-a-term institution will undergo two training sessions “on responding to anti-sexism and sexual violence”.

One session will be based on case studies from complaints published about the school.

In spring, more than 200 past and present pupils wrote online about a “rape culture” at Highgate.

They alleged that racist and sexist “jokes” were tolerated and sexual assaults were not properly dealt with.

Headteacher Adam Pettit issued an apology at the time “to the girls and women at Highgate for the ways you have been made to suffer.”

He commissioned an independent review, which is ongoing, but said in an update to parents last week that the school had conducted its own investigations in the meantime and drawn up a “dynamic” plan.

The update said some staff had already received training from the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Team.

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The Met announced in the wake of the whistleblower testimonies published earlier this year that it was investigating alleged offences, but would not give further details.

Among the complaints published in spring were those of several girls who said they had reported sexual assaults by male pupils and felt staff took insufficient action.

Highgate councillor Liz Morris said the school appeared to have broken its own safeguarding policy, which stated: “The school regards abuse as abuse among peers and will never tolerate it or pass it off as ‘banter’.”

She and Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West suggested mandatory reporting was a potential solution, as currently there is no law requiring schools to pass abuse allegations to police or social services.

Adam Pettitt with the Sunday Times/ Parent Power 'Independent School of the Decade' award. Picture:

Headteacher Adam Pettit said in an update to parents that Highgate School had 'made a good start' on tackling complaints about a 'rape culture'. - Credit: Archant

In his update, Mr Pettit told parents that “there is not clear guidance for schools including ours on what to do when allegations do not lead to prosecution or conviction”.

A new school policy will set out “when and how other agencies including the police and children’s services will become involved”.

Mr Pettit wrote: “We have, thanks to the involvement of so many of you, made a good start, but there is still much to do.”

For more, read:

'Tip of the iceberg': Warning after Highgate School 'rape culture' reports

Calls for law change after Highgate School sexual abuse allegations

Dame Anne Rafferty to lead Highgate School 'rape culture' review

'We will not be silenced': Highgate School pupils walk out after 'rape culture' allegations

Highgate School reveals new details of sexual abuse review