Sexism and sexual harassment: how to update your behaviour policy

Weave these behaviour management strategies into your policy to let your school community know how you’ll tackle incidents of sexism and sexual harassment between pupils. Use our example scenarios to help you review your policy before consulting on it.

Last reviewed on 23 February 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 43030
  1. Be explicit about unacceptable behaviours 
  2. Explain the process for responding to reported incidents 
  3. Frame your ‘zero-tolerance’ approach carefully 
  4. Take the wishes of the victim(s) into account 
  5. Use your behaviour policy to underpin a culture of respect
  6. Show you're prepared to act, no matter how small the incident
  7. Offer support to the alleged perpetrator(s) 
  8. Consider outreach programmes for groups of offenders 
  9. Use our resources to help you review your policy 

We’d like to thank our associate education experts, Sara Alston, Gulshan Kayembe and Carolyn Unsted, for their help with this article. Find out more about them at the bottom of the page.   

Be explicit about unacceptable behaviours 

Don’t just imply them or group them together in one term – clearly listing out what counts as a problematic and unacceptable behaviour will help staff and pupils recognise what is and isn’t OK or ‘normal’. 

See a list of behaviours that count as child-on-child abuse in paragraph 35 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2022. The below definitions may also help:

Sexual violence means rape, assault by penetration, or sexual assault (intentional sexual touching).

Sexual harassment means unwanted conduct of a sexual nature – such as sexual comments, sexual jokes or taunting, physical behaviour like interfering with clothes, or online harassment such as sexting.

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