38 Norfolk schools and university named in students' accounts of sex abuse

Current and former school pupils have spoken out about their experiences of sexual abuse while they were students.

Current and former school pupils have spoken out about their experiences of sexual abuse while they were students. - Credit: Archant

Some 38 Norfolk schools and the University of East Anglia (UEA) have been included in a list drawn-up by sexual abuse victims who have opened up about their experiences.

Everyone's Invited, which describes itself as "a movement committed to eradicating rape culture", published a list last week of 2,962 schools across the UK named by victims who have come forward.

The list is available to view online, and mentions around one tenth of all schools across the country.

Current and former pupils came forward to anonymously share their experiences – some of which took place in an educational setting, while others have named schools that they or their attacker attended at the time.

There were three detailed accounts given by victims who were studying at the University of East Anglia (UEA), including one who alleges they was raped on Halloween by someone who lived in the same university accommodation.

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Three UEA students gave descriptions of the sexual abuse they suffered. - Credit: Archant

They said: "I have never been the same since – although I have involved the police and not stayed silent I see him all the time and as time has gone by people have seemed to forget it ever happened, yet I still struggle every single day to feel safe and supported."

Another student said they were assaulted by a school friend who had travelled to UEA to visit a mutual friend.

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They said: "I kept saying 'let’s not' multiple times and he ignored or justified it saying it’s okay it isn’t a bad thing, until it got too far and he was taking off my clothes and I insisted he stopped and finally he did – I was traumatised after."

And a third student said she suffers from "awful sleep paralysis and nightmares" after being "raped on a bathroom floor by maybe two people".

A UEA spokesperson said: "The student experiences detailed in the report demonstrate the harrowing impact of sexual abuse and the on-going long-term affect it has on victims. As a university we offer support to those students who do report sexual assault.

Cromer Academy. Picture: Google

Cromer Academy, formerly Cromer High School - Credit: Google

"The University investigates any allegations of sexual misconduct through our own disciplinary procedures separately to action that may be taken through reports to Police. We also have a ‘Report and Support’ system in place that allows students to both report incidents (anonymously if they prefer) and receive support from the University.  

"In addition to disciplinary investigation and wellbeing support we also have a talk therapy team available to students and as part of the support offered we will refer students to external organisations, such as the Harbour Centre, for further expert help."

In a testimony, one victim who studied at Wymondham College spoke of how two boys would touch her privates and her legs against her will during lessons, and also forced her to touch them inappropriately.

Another said she was harassed for four hours and raped at a house party when she was a pupil at the school.

And a Cromer High School pupil gave details of how she was "sexually abused and raped by men aged 19-25" over a period of a "few years".

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Wymondham College. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A spokesperson for Inspiration Trust said: "We are shocked and saddened to hear of the abuse detailed by the victims in this report. We take any allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and continue to support and safeguard all of our students."

In the aftermath of Everyone's Invited publishing these testimonies, Ofsted revealed a report in which they told headteachers to assume sexual abuse is happening in their schools.

The regulator found nine in 10 girls had been sent explicit videos or photos or been called sexist names.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services, said: "Ofsted's recent report is concerning to all of those working with children and young people. Every child and young person has a right to feel safe at school and this is an issue which all of us have a duty to address.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Coun

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

"We’re working closely with schools to offer support, guidance and training in line with national guidance and policy. We will continue in this work, and know that many education settings are already reviewing their arrangements for responding to sexual violence and harassment and we will support this process."

'I feel it could have been prevented'

One girl gave a very detailed account of numerous examples of sexual abuse when she was a pupil at Reepham High School three years ago.

"Me and the majority of my female friends experienced either sexual assault or rape," she said.

She gave descriptions of events at house parties and sleepovers that formed part of "a series of abuses". None of the examples given were in a school setting.

In her testimony she criticised the sex education taught at the school, and implored teachers to "please educate your students, all your students, on the importance of consent and the complexities of consent".

Headteacher Tim Gibbs said he was "horrified" to read what this former pupil had experienced.

Reepham High School and College head teacher Tim Gibbs. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Reepham High School and College head teacher Tim Gibbs. - Credit: Karen Bethell

He said: "We're horrified to hear what this girl has gone through. It's horrible to hear that she has put herself in such a vulnerable position at these 'parties' time and time again and I expect she will be upset by it for a very long time. If there is anything we could have done to have supported her then of course we would have done it. We do all we can with a willing heart.

"We're constantly considering the relationship and sex education we teach and when we do it, and what is age-appropriate. The whole thing starts at year seven, and we have what we consider an age-appropriate programme through the year groups.

"We've got a group of totally committed, experienced professionals and we use our judgement as best we can. The crucial thing is those good relationships between staff and students so they feel they can come to us and know we will look after them, and I think that is a strength of our school. The level of disclosure we have from students is high, and that's because I think they know if they come to us, they will be looked after."

Every Norfolk school on the Everyone's Invited list

  • Acle Academy
  • Alpington Primary School
  • Aylsham High School
  • Beeston Hall School
  • Broadland High Ormiston Academy
  • Churchill Park School, King's Lynn
  • City College Norwich
  • City of Norwich School
  • Cliff Park Ormiston Academy
  • Cromer High School (now Cromer Academy)
  • Downham Market Academy
  • Edward Worlledge Ormiston Academy
  • Flegg High School
  • Framingham Earl High School
  • Great Yarmouth Charter Academy
  • Gresham's School, Holt
  • Heartsease Primary School
  • Hellesdon High School
  • Hethersett Academy
  • Hillcrest Primary School, Downham Market
  • King's Lynn Academy
  • Langley School, Loddon
  • Long Stratton High School
  • Northgate High School, Dereham
  • Norwich High School for Girls
  • Norwich School
  • Reepham College
  • Rosemary Musker High School (now Thetford Academy)
  • Sewell Park Academy
  • Sheridan House School
  • Springwood High School
  • Sprowston Community Academy
  • St Clement's High School, Terrington St Clement
  • The Hewett Academy, Norwich
  • The Nicholas Hammond Academy, Swaffham
  • Thorpe St Andrew School
  • Wymondham College
  • Wymondham High Academy

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