Students' protest after school named in sex abuse list
- Credit: Thorpe St Andrew School
Teenagers spent the day protesting against sexual harassment at Thorpe St Andrew School after it was named by a sex abuse survivor in the "Everyone's Invited" campaign.
The nationwide campaign offers a place for survivors to share their stories anonymously, with 38 Norfolk schools mentioned on the list.
Some of the incidents detailed by current and former pupils took place in the schools themselves; other survivors named the school they or their attacker attended at the time.
Louise Page, head of ethics at the school, said both the murder of Sarah Everard and the Everyone's Invited campaign provided a wake-up call, and made Thorpe St Andrew staff realise "just how huge a societal problem" sexual harassment is.
Ms Page, together with Scott Coleman, whose Year 9 class helped organise the demonstration, said: "Sexual harassment in schools and the wider community needs tackling head-on.
"We felt the most important thing we could do was listen to the experiences of students and give them a strong voice going forwards."
They added that "as soon as Everyone's Invited hit the headlines", lessons on the topic of sexual harassment were quickly added into the summer term ethics programme, and a public sexual harassment student focus group was initiated.
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The teachers said the group now had over 100 student volunteers from age 11-16, as well as the "full support of school leadership".
The demonstration today was coordinated by Year 8 and 9 students who wanted to get across a "simple message" — that "Thorpe says no to sexual harassment".
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Natasha Harpley, a Broadland councillor who has been subjected to sexual harassment herself, has children who attend the school.
She said: "It's great that the school have supported students' human right to protest, but it's a shame they've been a bit heavy-handed when it comes to dictating what they can and can't do.
"Still I think it's so important that schools pay attention to what students are saying — and that's what they're doing at Thorpe St Andrew.
"It can't be a free-for-all, but students must be allowed to freely express themselves about something which matters to them and which many of them have felt personally."