School turns itself around after 'sexual bullying' reports

Stock image of a student using a laptop computer

Stock image of a student using a laptop computer - Credit: PA

A school that was plagued by reports of “sexual bullying” has turned itself around in the eyes of Ofsted inspectors following a string of management changes. 

JFS, a Jewish secondary school based in Kenton, was placed in special measures in 2021. 

The punishment came after Ofsted inspectors reported multiple cases of “sexual bullying” and “sexual harassment” among pupils and inaction in response from teachers. 

There were concerns around a lack of learning about respect and consent, LGBT issues and healthy relationships. 

The school’s personal, social, health and economic classes were described as “not fit for purpose”, which meant pupils were “not adequately prepared for modern life in Britain”. 

Despite these concerns, inspectors did note that the school performed well academically. 

Since then, a number of leadership changes at JFS – including replacing the headteacher – have led to a rating upgrade to “good”. 

The most recent report, published in June, said: “New leaders have worked successfully to ensure that safeguarding is effective. They have increased the school’s caring culture so that pupils are safe. 

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“Pupils respond maturely to leaders’ promotion of respectful and positive behaviour. Leaders have raised the importance of mental health and looking after the emotional wellbeing of the whole school community.”

It added that pupils “know to whom and where they can turn” if they have any issues. Inspectors said students felt confident reporting any bullying issues and these are dealt with quickly. 

The report said staff had given “serious consideration” to the personal, social, health and economic classes, with a particular focus on relationships and sex education. 

Trained staff now take dedicated classes for each year group, and pupils are encouraged to put forward any requests or suggestions they have about what should be discussed in these lessons. 

The report added: “Specialist support is available to pupils, particularly when sensitive themes are covered, such as domestic violence, drugs awareness and harmful sexual behaviour.”

An unannounced visit at the end of 2021 suggested things were beginning to improve at JFS. It took on consultancy advice regarding its safeguarding and introduced regular training for staff on how best to approach this issue. 

According to Ofsted, it also made a commitment to tackling concerns around sexual harassment. This included a school-wide survey, in which around 500 pupils took part and their responses are shaping how to move forward. 

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted JFS for comment.