Five tips for handling CSE in your school

Mark Bowles

Mark Bowles is the director of The Training Effect. He has worked extensively in the public sector as a practitioner, manager and commissioner. Mark’s work focuses on drugs, alcohol, risk-taking behaviour, families with complex needs, emotional health and wellbeing.

The Training Effect’s Risk-Avert programme, developed in partnership with Essex County Council, can identify those young people who are more likely to take negative risks in later life. The programme delivers cognitive behaviour interventions to help them avoid or manage those risks and is being rolled out to local authorities, academies and independent schools across the UK.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Over the past few years public knowledge of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has increased, not least due to several high profile cases in Oxford, Rotherham and Bradford. In many ways, these high-profile cases are just the tip of the iceberg, as many children and young people are not the victims of organised groups of adults, but by individuals whom they know and trust.

YouTube link

Schools have a key role in educating young people in relation to CSE. It is imperative that staff ensure that schools operate and foster an environment where pupils feel safe and confident to participate in discussions and lessons surrounding CSE. Building trust between staff and pupils is a key step in teaching and protecting youngsters from CSE.

A whole-school approach is always going to be more effective. A commitment from senior management and school governors will ensure that CSE is at the top of the agenda, and can be dealt with efficiently if the need arises. A senior staff member should also be assigned to child protection and lead on educating staff on risks, signs and ways to deal with CSE.

There are also a number of practical ways in which teachers can help provide CSE education:

1. A YouGov poll from 2013 found that 71% of teachers surveyed felt that lessons in secondary school were the most important way to educate young people about CSE.

This makes sense as good quality Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in schools covers a range of topics and in the case of CSE, many of the contributing issues will already be part of the curriculum. CSE can be weaved into lessons through a range of topics including:

  • Internet safety – many incidents of CSE may begin with or be isolated to online behaviour.
  • Consent – ensuring young people clearly understand consent is vital.
  • Healthy relationships – many elements of effective healthy relationships education are crucial in relation to CSE, such as gender expectations, power imbalances and what constitutes a healthy or unhealthy relationship

Good quality educational work related to CSE should be cross-cutting and part of a wider PSHE programme. A review of existing PSHE that looks for ‘golden threads’ in topics that contribute to teaching about CSE may be beneficial. These threads should then be implemented throughout each PSHE session to ensure that consistent messages are given to young people.

2. Explore local services that support victims of CSE in your area. Partner with support organisations and look at ways to collaborate, inviting them in participate in lessons and workshops to educate staff and pupils. Schools should also be in contact with their local safeguarding children board where extra support and resources can be accessed.

3. All staff should be trained on key indicators related to typical vulnerabilities in children and young people prior to abuse. Young people at risk include those who are living in chaotic, dysfunctional households (with parental substance use, domestic violence, parental mental health issues or parental criminality) or children with a history of abuse.

4. Help young people to recognise what ‘safe’ feels like. A great resource to achieve this is using the ‘protective behaviours’ approach, specifically the concept of EWS (early warning signs) and the safety continuum. This approach is valuable as it relies on young person’s inner feelings, not an exhaustive list of what constitutes risk. This can help young people recognise when they may be in an unsafe situation.

5. Keeping parents and guardians informed of safeguarding policies and procedures will also encourage them to come forward if they have any concerns about a child’s behaviour, whether it be their own or another member of the school’s community. By having support in place, schools can offer valuable advice for anyone with concerns.     


Work with schools in combating CSE, and educate young people about the process that drives this. The outcomes that follow need careful planning to ensure that the initiative is effective. Effectiveness doesn’t just mean increasing awareness and understanding of what CSE is, but also building better skills for young people which can help keep them safe. Above all, trust and understanding between the school and pupils is required.

How do you handle CSE in your school? Share your advice below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"