The issue of sexual violence against women has been very much at the front of all our minds since the appalling murder of Sarah Everard in March this year and the deeply disturbing accounts of the abuse and humiliation suffered by young women highlighted by the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ campaign. It does feel like a tipping point has been reached which, hopefully, will effect real change in this country.
In response, I held a number of discussions with pupils and concerned parents to ascertain what we, as a school, could do that would ensure that our pupils are as well-equipped as possible to face the challenges of the toxic culture that still sadly exists in far too many areas of society, as well as how we could help bring about the fundamental societal change we all want to see.
The action at the top of the list was to undertake meaningful engagement with boys’ schools. As a result, we have now finalised plans for a joint workshop series between our Senior College pupils and Sixth Formers at Wetherby, where issues including Relationships and Sex Education (including consent) will be tackled in co-ed sessions.
Here at Queen’s we have also made sure that every age group receives self-defence training this term and we are working with The Rap Project to ensure that issues relating to consent and sexual abuse are fully integrated into our revised PSHE curriculum for September.
In addition, I’m thrilled that our ‘Thrive’ subject leader, Ms Katy Massey, will shortly be interviewing Soma Sara, the founder of ‘Everyone’s Invited’, together with Chanel Contos, who has launched a similar campaign in Australia to revolutionise sexual education in school. Excitingly, this will be the first time Chanel and Soma will work with each other, so the interview is a global first. We are hoping to invite all pupils, parents and alumnae to watch the interview and submit questions to Soma and Chanel in advance. If you would like to submit a question for Ms Massey to put to Soma and Chanel, or have any other feedback about how Queen’s can help bring about change on these issues please, email Afiyah Alim, our Alumnae Officer, on email@example.com or message through OQ Connect.
I hope this is a useful summary of our actions on this hugely important issue to date, but please be assured that I’m certainly not complacent about the steps we have taken so far. I believe the response to ‘Everyone’s Invited’ needs to be an ongoing and collective societal change, not just in schools but in homes and universities across the UK as well. My team and I are committed to doing all we can here at Queen’s to be a meaningful part of that change.
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