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Stamford College and The Conversation Stamford work together to teach students how to recognise and deal with sexual harassment

College students have been given the confidence to call out and report incidents of sexual harassment since taking part in workshops to highlight the issue.

Stamford College, part of The Inspire Education group, commissioned staff from The Conversation Stamford to lead discussions on what sexual harassment means and the consequences for perpetrators and victims.

The result has been an increase in the number of students reporting concerns about historic cases.

Julie Addison, Gemma Holbird, Sarah Jane Sauntson and Laila Bentley joined forces to run workshops on sexual harassment at Stamford College
Julie Addison, Gemma Holbird, Sarah Jane Sauntson and Laila Bentley joined forces to run workshops on sexual harassment at Stamford College

Assistant principal Laila Bentley said: “We are committed to creating a culture of zero tolerance towards sexual violence and sexual harassment therefore the work we do with our students to raise awareness about healthy relationships is so important.

“We aim to enable them to recognise that some of the perceived normalised behaviours they may have experienced or seen is not acceptable and to give them the confidence to call it out.”

Laila and her colleague Julie Addison instigated the project two years ago following a national Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The report revealed how prevalent sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are for young people and found that many felt incidents were so commonplace, there was no point in reporting them.

The recommendation for education leaders was to “create a culture where sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are not tolerated” and to “identify issues and intervene early to better protect children and young people”.

Stamford College’s response was to ask educators from The Conversation Stamford to run programme of workshops and tutorials for staff and students.

Director of The Conversation, Sarah Jane Sauntson, delivered some of the workshops and focus groups. She said: “On the whole a lot of the experiences they talked about had happened at secondary school and they said it was better since moving to college.”

The Conversation already runs relationship workshops in secondary schools but is keen to expand its reach.

Director Gemma Holbird said: “We know these issues need to be talked about more in secondary schools. It’s all about respectful relationships which is what we focus on with our year 9 and 11 workshops, but we’re really keen to get other providers to join the programme and help to empower their students and staff in this area.”

Details of their programmes are available online at www.theconversationstamford.co.uk

The community interest company was short-listed for the social enterprise award at the Mercury Business Awards in September.

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