Consent Education: The Online Generation

In this blog we explore consent education and how to safeguard against the likes of the notorious, self-described misogynist Andrew Tate.

The New Epidemic in Schools

In a recent review of Channel 4’s new drama Consent, set at an elite school where the lines of sexual consent are dangerously blurred, The New Statesman wrote: ‘Consent perfectly illustrates how a failure by schools to address sexual jokes, sexual harassment, slut-shaming and online abuse creates the conditions for more extreme violence, how toxic classroom cultures can cause apparently “nice guys” to do terrible things´. This is mirrored by Ofsted’s findings via their Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges, which identified that ‘Many instances of sexual harassment, including the pressure to share nudes and the sharing of youth-produced sexual imagery without consent, are going unrecognised or unchallenged by school staff’.

But what role do influencers and online culture play in persuading young boys towards harmful ideas? One theory, proposed by secondary school teacher Nadine Asbali suggests that ‘Adults are so absorbed in trying to live hand to mouth, when opportunities for social mobility are shattered, Andrew Tate offers a dangerous hand for them to cling on to. It’s time for schools, community leaders and families to step in and get there before he does.’.

Consent Education in the Curriculum

Statutory guidance, issued by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2021, states that all schools in England must now include consent education in their curriculum. The Guidance, Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education, is supported by a forward from The Secretary of State, who explains that as children today grow up in an increasingly online world, they are faced with exciting opportunities, but also ‘challenges and risks’. ‘In this environment, children and young people need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their academic, personal, and social lives in a positive way. This is why we have made Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools in England and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all secondary schools.’ The guidance also called for specific changes to be made with regards to ‘everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and gender stereotypes’ and to ‘take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated, and any occurrences are identified and tackled.’

We discussed this new legislation, along with the approach to consent education, in our recent webinar Engaging Boys in Consent Education, with Dr Emily Setty of Surrey University and Nicole Rodden, co-founder of Life Lessons. The webinar, which you can watch for free, used evidence from Dr Emily Setty’s research paper Educating Teenage Boys About Consent: The Law and Affirmative Consent in Boys’ Socio-Sexual Cultures and Subjectivities, which was published in Nov 2022.

Data for the paper was conducted between May-June 2022 in a co-educational academy, a boys’ academy, and a boys’ independent school, all in South East England.

‘The data suggests that while typical consent education messages may rationalise or provide a ‘road map’ for consent, the boys felt uncertain and anxious about navigating the perceived, often anticipated, realities of youth sexual culture.’

Following our Consent Education webinar, we headed to the free Safeguarding Community to continue the conversation with a series of questions that had arisen during the webinar. An anonymous participant asked

Q: ‘ Are there any resources you could recommend which shine a light on Andrew Tate's extreme views and why they are harmful?

A: ‘Regarding best practice on addressing issues such as Andrew Tate, our advice would be to ensure that the conversation does not focus solely on Andrew Tate but on the wider issues themselves such as misogyny, online influence, extremism, gender roles and then use Andrew Tate as an example of this. These topics should form part of your overall, spiral curriculum.’ - Nicole Rodden Co-Founder, Life Lessons, who have a useful blog which gives teachers advice on this topic.

Consent Eduction

Consent Education is not only mandatory in English schools, but a vital tool in tackling misogyny at a young age, and ensuring young boys in particular are protected from indoctrination by infamous online figures. The British Governments Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education Guidance confirmed that ‘Consent education plays an essential part in preventing and addressing sexual harassment and relationship abuse.’

  • Challenge the Conversation
    Use group conversations and assemblies to have open, honest and engaging conversations with all children about sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes. Address any priorities or concerns in a way that educates on the topic, rather than points fingers or highlights isolated incidents.
  • Break the Silence
    Many teachers are worried that talking about Andrew Tate and other online influencers will draw further attention to them or encourage children who had never heard of him to become fans. Setty writes, “The problem is that boys feel unfairly targeted, and it reinforces the idea that people like Tate are being silenced. Ultimately, it does nothing to address the underlying causes of the beliefs or the wider issues at play.”
  • Lead by Example
    Call out all instances of everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes that you see in your schools, groups and clubs. Encourage everyone to challenge typical roles that children may have seen, like dolls being a girl’s toy, or boys are emotionally unavailable.
  • Track Trends
    Using a centralised, secure record-keeping software like our Queen’s award-winning MyConcern can help you record all low-level and behavioural concerns, like misogyny and sexism, and track any trends before they escalate into more serious issues.

For further support on the subject, you can use the free resources available via our website or contact us to speak with us directly about managing concerns in your school.


Further reading:

Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education guidance from the Government 



Posted Date

1st March 2023

Rosie Eastwood
Marketing Content Manager

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