Former student urges school to take action after 'rape culture' claims
- Credit: Scarlett Mansfield
A former student has called for Colchester Royal Grammar School to take action after a number of female students shared experiences of alleged sexual assaults and sexism.
The headmaster at the school has issued a public statement in response to the allegations, saying he was "shocked and saddened" by the "wholly unacceptable behaviours and attitudes that some female students have experienced".
The Lexden Road school for boys, which allows girls into the sixth form college, was named East Anglia School of the Decade in 2020 and prides itself on a high admission rate to Oxford and Cambridge.
Scarlett Mansfield attended the mixed sixth form as a teen and recently shared a blog post titled 'How Do We Address Rape Culture at Boys' Public and Grammar Schools? - CRGS Case Study'.
The Oxford-graduate cited anonymous experiences of female students, including sexual assaults which allegedly happened during their time at the school, as well as sexism.
The blog post has now had nearly 21,000 views and was inspired by Soma Sara’s ‘Everyone’s Invited’ initiative — an anonymous noticeboard for people to share instances of sexual abuse at school.
CRGS headmaster John Russell shared a public statement addressing the blog post on Monday, April 12, saying: "We are shocked and saddened to read the recent reports of wholly unacceptable behaviours and attitudes that some female students have experienced during their time at CRGS.
"Misogyny, harassment, abuse and discrimination in any form is not tolerated at CRGS.
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"We recognise the value of a united approach to raising awareness of discrimination, harassment and abuse in every form it takes.
"We are clear that inaction by any bystander is to be complicit and is therefore equally unacceptable."
A group of students campaigning for action had a meeting with the school on Wednesday, April 12 — yet Miss Mansfield had hoped staff would be the ones to take the initiative.
"I know students are working hard to give talks and take further action, but I really think this needs to be coming from the school," the 26-year-old said.
"It shouldn't depend on 16, 17, 18-year-old girls to sort this out.
"If the school is well and truly sorry like they say they are, then it should be them putting all their energy into making this a better place.
"I have had students current and past get in touch and their responses have been more meaningful than anything from the school."
She also claims students attempting to host talks on the subject have been restricted by staff in use of language, even forbidden to use the term 'rape', and only allowed to address Year 12 and 13 pupils.
The school responded to this, saying its pastoral team and staff Equality and Diversity Group had supported students before Easter to present on consent, harassment and sexual abuse — to be carried out to Years 7 to 13 over the next fortnight.
It said the headmaster has already met with the sixth form and will be addressing the rest of the school shortly.
A spokesperson for the school added: "While our students have been clear that there is more work to do, and have given us some fantastic ideas for how to do this, CRGS is evidently a very different place to the school Ms Mansfield attended nearly a decade ago."
Sexpression UK provides free materials on sex education, covering topics such as consent, and can be accessed here.
Miss Mansfield has now published a second blog post addressing some of the comments made to her over the last week.