Talking to pupils about sexism, sexual harassment and assault

It can be tricky to talk to pupils about sensitive topics. Use our guidance to set up discussion groups and get honest reflections from your pupils – it’s one step towards tackling sexism and sexual harassment in your school.

Last reviewed on 23 February 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 43095
  1. Build work around RSE and PSHE
  2. Start with a survey
  3. Decide which staff are best placed to lead discussions
  4. Set up small discussion groups
  5. Build the conversation with questions linked to PSHE
  6. Turn the discussion to relationships
  7. Introduce the topic at hand
  8. Leave an open door for further discussion
  9. One session may not be enough
  10. Use sessions to inform changes
  11. Keep the following in mind
  12. Further reading and resources

Build work around RSE and PSHE

You can use Ofsted's review of sexual abuse in schools to help understand what's missing from your curriculum. 

Use relationships and sex education (RSE) and personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons to start the conversation around:

  • Ofsted's review
  • What sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse are – our article on Ofsted's review has examples of what peer-on-peer sexual abuse includes
  • Why the current situation is unacceptable

Clearly define what sexism, sexual harassment and abuse look like, as some pupils may not realise that what they've experienced is wrong, or that what they're doing is wrong.

What you cover, the language you use, and how much detail you go into will depend on the age of your pupils. For example, in Key Stage (KS) 1 you might focus on treating each other with respect, whereas in KS2 you might delve a little deeper.

The outcomes