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Introducing: 'Responding to the Difficult Questions'

Updated: Jun 26

It can be challenging during sessions when tricky questions arise. While our team are knowledgeable, experienced and always professional in their responses, once in a while we will get a comment or question that makes us pause. A few examples include:

  • How is this a teacher’s responsibility? I’m here to teach my subject, not change the culture.

  • My boyfriend tells me all the time he loves my arse, are you telling me that’s sexual harassment?

  • I’ve seen groups of girls laughing at the comments being shouted at them. They don’t strike me as people that are intimidated by it!

  • Personally, I don’t know why we need to be here.

  • Why aren’t the boys getting this training? They’re the problem.

Here at Our Schools Now we’re constantly adapting and evaluating our resources and approaches for dealing with PSH. Our work is very much led by the voices of the young people we come into contact with. So when difficult questions like these arise consistently, we know it’s time to figure out how they can be tackled in sessions. 

This will be a new series on the blog that explores some of the difficult questions that have arisen over the last year. We’ll break down how we think they should be responded to and think about the impact wider culture is having on them. Hopefully this will give you more of an insight into the complex and often nuanced world of PSH. 

Deep Breath; It’s all of our responsibility

So, hi, it’s me Rhi, Lead facilitator for Wales and I’m going to tackle how we respond when a teacher pushes back on it being their responsibility to ‘teach’ this stuff. It’s one we get consistently. And hey, I get it. I’ve been that classroom teacher that is supposed to be filling out 5 different forms, making sure my pupils have eaten, checking to see they all have a pen that day, monitoring that tense moment between friends earlier in the week and still getting them to pass those god damn GCSE’s. Teaching is hectic and incessant and you are working with some of the most inspiring and volatile creatures on the planet; teenagers!

But our response for this question, everytime, is, ‘Safeguarding is all of our responsibility.’ Because it is. Safeguarding as a teacher is the bedrock of creating a safe and equitable environment for your pupils to thrive and learn. Public Sexual Harassment is, at it’s root, a safeguarding issue within your school. Of course we mention the Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 legislation that stipulates it is quite literally a legal requirement you take reports of abuse on and off school premises seriously. Of course we discuss the statistic that 58% of girls have been publicly sexually harassed in their learning environment. And, sure, we break down what best practice is for dealing with PSH as a teacher is. 

But the crux of that pesky question, why is it my responsibility? Is it’s all of our responsibility. We don’t get to have the privilege of working with such exciting and complicated and full-to-the-brim with potential people as our pupils and not be determined to create a safe space for them to learn. For you as a classroom teacher, that means learning how to deal with the consistent and never ending examples of PSH they are experiencing. For you as a member of Senior Leadership, that means figuring out how to bring about a wider culture shift within your schools. And for you as pupils, it means continuing to empower yourselves with the knowledge that PSH is not okay, it should not be a normal part of your day-to-day existence, and you can be reassured some of us are working towards that end. 

Deep breath in, it is all of our responsibility.


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