Schools could BAN hugs in classroom to stop boys 'overstepping the mark', suggests former Ofsted chief

A FORMER Ofsted chief who banned hugs in his classroom has suggested schools take similar measures in order to stop boys from "overstepping the mark".

Sir Michael Wilshaw banned hugs in his school while working as a headteacher in 2007, saying the decision was viewed as "too strict" at the time.

But the former Chief Inspector of Schools in England today insisted it was "the right thing to do" as schools across the country face a Whitehall investigation into the harrowing scale of misogyny, harassment and sexual assault in and around classrooms.

Speaking of his time as the head of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, London, Sir Michael told Good Morning Britain: “It was seen as the norm for boys when they came into the school to hug girls – there was nothing malicious in it, but they saw that as the norm but of course some over stepped the mark.

"Once I got complaints from girls that some boys were overstepping the mark I banned it."

He said the decision came "at great cost to the school and myself" adding "I was seen as being far too strict and far too authoritarian on this one".

"But looking back now it was absolutely the right thing to do."

Of schoolkids knowing their boundaries, Sir Michael said: "They’ve got to know where the delineating lines are. It’s crucial for headteachers to make clear what is acceptable behaviour towards girl and what is not.”

He added: "Unless head teachers and senior staff set the tone, set the culture, have high expectations, clearly define the parameters for poor behaviour than these sort of things happen.”


Sir Michael's comments come amid an emerging "rape culture" scandal in Britain's schools, with thousands of pupils coming forward to share their experiences.

Whitehall is probing the issue as police ramp up efforts to tackle gender based violence, after a website 'Everyone's Invited' shone a "light on peer-on-peer abuse within educational settings across the UK."

Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs Council's lead for child abuse and investigation said: "Thousands of children and young people have come forward to report allegations of sexual offences within schools".

He added: "We will now work at pace with Everyone's Invited and partners, including the Home Office and Department for Education, to progress a joint response.

"If victims wish to report sexual abuse to the police, they can be confident that they will be believed and treated with compassion and respect before a thorough investigation is undertaken."

Officials from the Department of Education and Home Office are leading the response along with police chiefs and Ofsted.

And inspectors from Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate are ready to launch surprise investigations in schools if safety concerns are raised, Whitehall sources told the Telegraph.

Government advice on sexual harassment and sexual violence between kids in schools and colleges is also being revised and will be in force by the beginning of the next academic year, the Telegraph reports.

Sources confirmed that officials from the Government and ministers will be meeting in the coming weeks.

"We take all allegations and concerns about sexual abuse or violence extremely seriously and are working with multi-agency safeguarding partners to ensure the safety of all children in all schools, including in independent schools," the source added.

"Where schools do not meet the strict safeguarding standards that we have in place, we will always take action.

"If it becomes clear that there are current failings in any school's safeguarding practice, we will immediately ask Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate to conduct an inspection.

"If a school is found to not be meeting the required safeguarding standard, we will make sure it either improves or closes."

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