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New FGM inquiry highlights key safeguarding issue for schools

19 December 2013

An inquiry launched to examine the lack of prosecutions for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK is expected to review the legal framework and consider how agencies, including the police , health and education sectors, share information regarding FGM cases.

With an estimated 24,000 girls identified as at risk, FGM is an important safeguarding issue for schools. The DfE's lack of engagement with the issue has been criticised and an NSPCC survey has previously shown teachers' knowledge of FGM is often limited. It will impact some schools more than others depending on demographics, but a good starting point for all is training for staff, particularly those with specific safeguarding responsibilities. Ofsted inspectors are now expected to consider how schools manage the risk of FGM as part of inspecting safeguarding.

The hope is the inquiry will raise the profile of FGM across all sectors. Certainly when it comes to tackling it, schools have a vital part to play in raising awareness, overcoming perceived cultural sensitivities and encouraging girls to speak out.

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