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A second English music school tightens its child protection guidelines

The letter below has gone out from the head’s office to all teachers at the Purcell School. The sector is bracing itself for the next wave of revelations, expected in the next few weeks when sentence is passed on the convicted Brewers.

The flaw in the plan is that teachers are paid about £35 an hour. They are now expected to pay £60 for having their deputies vetted by the head. The school should have offered to pay for the vetting.


Previously, Chetham’s consulted parents about making the school safer.


purcell letter

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  1. Joep Bronkhorst says:

    Shouldn’t it be the deputy’s responsibility to provide the school with a valid DBS certificate, made out within the past three years, rather than the school’s?

  2. The school should pay for the vetting so that the teacher can earn money elsewhere (the reason the dep is required in the first place)? Where is the sense in that?

  3. Concerned parent says:

    What is worrying about this is that it implies that the School is aware that deputies have been teaching without the requisite CRB clearance.

    In my daughter’s state primary, if you as a parent want to help, even as a one-off in a class or on a class-trip, you need CRB clearance (the parent has to bear the cost him or herself). This is completely standard. Ditto if you want to be in the same room as our local Sunday School.

    After the Crook affair, one would have thought everything would have been tightened up at the Purcell.

    I realise it must be pretty tough heading up a music school at the moment, given the rumours that further revelations are imminent and that the evidence from Chets already indicates that the abuse cannot be confined to single heinous acts by isolated abusers set in the “historic past”. Indeed it is clear to me that there was a culture of complicity at all levels, with the suspected and convicted abusers at Chets and RNCM having close connections to other music schools and colleges. Both these aspects are still evident in present-day personnel and management traits at Chets and other institutions.

    The Chets “furore” cannot be confined either to Chets or the historic past, which is why the call for an inquiry into abuse and its culture past and present in all music schools has received such widespread support.

    I don’t believe the managers of any of these institutions could honestly disagree with this analysis, awful as it is in PR terms.

    Until the schools commit themselves to a full, open, transparent and independent inquiry, actions such as this letter will only reinforce the impression of complacency, defensiveness and back-covering.

  4. Rosalind says:

    Looking at the issue from another angle: If I was a student and I’ve paid (or more likely my parents have paid) for lessons with a particular musician, I certainly wouldn’t appreciate having a “deputy” turn up instead to teach me. Certainly it is something that never, ever happened when I was studying music. Sounds like a highly unprofessional method of teaching. Should a teacher have to miss a lesson due to other professional commitments then they really ought to be expected to make up the lesson to the pupil at another time.

    • Sir:

      I am not sure that deputies should always be construed as so undesirable as the poster above suggests. So long as it were not too frequent, I think that a good deputy can actually be quite valuable in providing a different perspective. Also, it is not always practical to postpone lessons missed due to the teacher’s absence, for example if the student had an imminent performance or the teacher were gravely unwell and thus likely to be absent for several weeks.

      I also think we should not be too hasty to lambast teachers who take on professional commitments elsewhere: schedules in the music profession are rarely tidy and evenly distributed at regular times of the week. Besides, it is direct experience as a musician that often enhances the perceived and actual quality of a teacher.

      In relation to the subject matter of this article, I would observe that three weeks’ notice is not always practical, especially in the case of illness or being stranded abroad due to a flight cancellation. Perhaps if the teachers registered a list of deputies upon whom they were likely to call in advance of actually requiring a deputy for a specific absence, the need for such advanced notice would be obviated?

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