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Chetham’s braces itself for less than the worst

The letter below went out to parents this afternoon, assuring them that the offences for which the former director of music and his wife will be sentenced tomorrow were all in the distant past. Parents and journalists who have been in touch with Slipped Disc tell us that the police are investigating incidents of more recent provenance. More will become clear tomorrow. Meantime, the hatches are being battened down.



Dear (name withheld),
The reason for my email is to let you know that the sentencing date
for Mr and Mrs Brewer, the former Director of Music and his former
wife, is scheduled for tomorrow, 26th March. Inevitably this may give
rise to some renewed interest by the media about the Brewers’
offences and the historic abuse allegations which are currently under
investigation. We at Chetham’s would like to reiterate our sorrow
and sympathy for the family of our former student, Frances Andrade,
who died under such tragic circumstances, and for anyone else impacted
by these past events.

I have no further news to report to you about these allegations, and
our understanding is that the police investigation relates to a period
of 20 – 40 years ago. We are cooperating with the police in every
way we can. As you know, they have requested that we do not launch our
own independent inquiry or comment further on the allegations while
their investigation is ongoing, and we do not know at this stage how
long the investigation will continue for.

Please do not hesitate to give me or any member of the pastoral team a
call should you have any concerns, and I hope you all have an
enjoyable Easter break with your families.

My very best wishes,

Claire Moreland

Claire Moreland DL MA
Chetham’s School of Music

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  1. Under the circumstances they had to say something.

    However where were they in the late 1980s.

    Anyone who read music (as I did) around this time was likely to have come across one of the victims of their teaching staff. Those who did (and I did) will know precisely how damaged they were.

    It wasn’t exactly something that was top of the subject of conversation in the pub, or in common rooms. However anyone with an ounce of empathy would spot someone who had been hurt by their behaviour, or by what was left unsaid.

    That Martin Roscoe blew the whistle at ‘The Northern’ and it was swept under the carpet again is even worse. That part of his letters have been censured in order that at least two more establishments have had their names kept quiet, reprehensible.

    It is now time to get the whole thing out in the open and come clean.

    It is too late for these students, but not too late to prevent a similar fate occurring to other vulnerable children and young adults.

    I do not want a witch hunt. What good would that serve. Personally what I want to see is effective protocols for reporting abuse and firing abusers.

    The DBS system catches those who have not been caught. It does not prevent abuse. Abusers are very good at ensuring they discredit victims and keeping their noses clean. The DBS system although having some value makes honest people feel like criminals and is wrecking the opportunities for young people to do things with adults (the type of adult who would not dream of abusing children) whilst leaving those who do harm children in post.

    It is a typical ‘we need to do something, this is something’ system and runs a mockery of the Rehabilitation of Offenders, when all the offender did was pinch a bottle of cola from a shop as a juvenile.

    I care deeply about this, as a vocal and instrumental teacher, and as a parent.

    • Martin Roscoe says:

      Only just spotted this. Joanna thank you again for your support.
      A point of detail : my correspondence with the RNCM as published by the Guardian in february was redacted by them on the instructions of their lawyers in order to remove the possibility of litigation. Hence the names of the two establishments you refer to were removed .

      • Can we please keep the names of those two establishments out of this conversation for the reasons indicated by Martin. Tks. N

      • I thought possible litigation was the cause. Hence the reason to abide by the editors decision.

        I hope in the fullness of time, for the sake of their former students, that their names may come into the public domain. However they are not, and whilst they are not, there is always a good reason for it. (e.g. the sake of current staff and students working at these two establishments who will be working towards exams, and completely unconnected to this case).

  2. Clarissa Smid says:

    For a fact, there will be more people coming forward at this and other schools. So sad that such cases have ruined the lives and careers of such potentially brilliant people. .. but I hope that it will all create a framework within which people find justice and change causes these cases to be a thing of the past.

  3. PK Miller says:

    I don’t know how matters of this sort work in England. But I do believe in a REASONABLE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. We have an instance locally where a man was pursing abuse claims against nuns long deceased for alleged offenses that supposedly happened >70 years ago–sic. I say again, as I did w/ the Curtis incidents: once upon a time, such relationships were NOT considered abusive. There are relationships that today we deem abusive, coercive, even illicit if not illegal that once no one considered such. To slightly paraphrase Thoroughly Modern Millie, what they thought was chic & adorable, we think is Sodom & Gemorhable. I’m NOT excusing this. I once had a temp job in which I became the 3rd rung of a triangle w/2 women. If the Personnel Dept. of a long defunct area company got a termination notice for a woman in the front office, “Had a disagreement with…” (Company President or Treasurer) Personnel knew it meant she wouldn’t put out for them. Perfectly legit in that era, grounds for criminal sanctions as well as civil, today. I was molested, many, many years ago by an Assistant Scoutmaster who was later killed in Vietnam. I long ago entrusted him to GOD’s justice & mercy.

    Again, I don’t understand the English system of justice & if I ask my Partner of 33+ years, I will get an earful! (He’s Welsh–they’re British not English!)

    I am appalled by the rush to compensate the Horace Mann complainants. All the money in the world paid to you every hour on the hour cannot compensate you for that loss of innocence. But again–a reasonable statute of limitations. I again recommend FIVE YEARS. Let go & let God.

    • With the greatest respect, Mrs Andrade took her own life as a result of the long term trauma following her abuse. She left her own family behind. They are not going to be bound by a statute of limitation.

      We are not dealing with ‘pinching a bottle of cola’ this is the sexual abuse of a minor. I have read the sentencing report. What happened to Mrs Andrade is best described as depraved.

      I am sorry to hear you were also molested; you are not the only one. In my case there will be no prosecution as I have forgiven the perpetrator. It was a one off incident. Mrs Andrade was not as fortunate.

      There is also the issue of whether the perpetrator is likely to re-offend, and with these cases, much evidence suggests this is so. My molester was a peer, a troubled school boy who sorted his life out. As part of forgiving was ensuring he was now OK. He had been let down at the time and the person who really suffered was me. Once he got his life on tracks he was unlikely to do it to anyone else. This is not the case with many child-abusers, and not the case with the Brewers or the other Chets staff.

      With the new procedures in place however, Cheethams School of Music is almost certainly one of the safest places to send your children to school NOW. The places to worry about are the places where there is complacency.

    • Unfortunately abusers tend to target the vulnerable and disempowered and if it happens at all it may take many years for victims to become powerful and self-assured enough to come forward and challenge the abuser. So I don’t think a statute of limitations would work. Brewer was sentenced more or less according to the law at the time though rather than the law now. Great if victims can forgive and perpetrators can reform, but it can’t happen in every case.

      • Personally I would change the word “if” to “when”. Judge each case on their individual merits. My own situation was very different from that of an older man preying on a child. As a result the circumstances were different, and I needed to accept that the perpetrator had issues of his own. With the benefit of hindsight, easy to do, not so easy at the time.

  4. It’s getting like the dead parrot sketch: ‘past events’, ‘historical allegations’. Keep this up and it’s going to be an ex-school.

  5. It is clearly not the case that investigations relate solely to cases 20-40 years ago?

    • It is in my opinion crass, insensitive and irresponsible to labour this ‘historical’ mantra (transparently for the shallow and self-interested purpose of image management) when there are many links even between allegations already in the public domain and the present. Example 1: a current teacher (until suspension a couple of weeks ago) is under investigation.

      • Horrid. Has this latest information received press attention?

        • If you mean the current teacher being arrested, Janey, yes it has received press attention. It has been in the papers and on the television news a few times. He is innocent until proven guilty of course and the incident being investigated may be something that the school feels able to distance itself from for one reason or another but nevertheless, a current teacher from that school is under investigation.

          For anyone interested, if it’s OK to post this, the news report below mentions this and also summarises things.

  6. Edmund Coxon says:

    Maybe I’m old fashioned but I wish this sort of thing was a real letter. An email is so easy and impersonal – a lazy way to communicate an incredibly important message. If she really meant it, she’d have licked the stamps herself and signed it in her own hand. To me, sending this by email speaks volumes and shows a true colour within the administration.

    • The sentiment is appreciated, but afraid, yes, old fashioned. Indeed, I recall reading a number of complaints from commenters on this site about how the school wasn’t responding quickly enough, how disgraceful it was that parents were getting updates from newspapers and blogs, etc… sending letters instead of emails would only exacerbate this problem.

      • Edmund Coxon says:

        Sometimes old fashioned is better the new fashions. The trend to dictate or type out an email ‘select all’ and fire out to recipients is admittedly easier but to put ones signature in a letter is quite another thing and demonstrates a sense of ernest and individual touch which is otherwise lost in email. It is not a time for bland corporate responses – there are moments when one should take ones time, go the extra mile and make the effort! Proper quality responses are far better appreciated when done thoroughly.

  7. “and our understanding is that the police investigation relates to a period of 20 – 40 years ago.”

    Some of these replies are unbelievable. This is clearly an entirely reasonable letter. In a school with boarding and in the modern world it is entirely reasonable to communicate with parents by emails and most prefer it. What on earth has licking stamps got to do with anything? The letter is not complacent or “just a PR job” it simply states the fact notably in the quotation above. Chets is a great school but it is a particularly British thing what whenever the Brits have something to be proud of they set out to destroy it. Inverted snobbery, jealousy and just plain ignorant bigotry are usually the cause. As far as we know Ms Moreland has not personally been accused of any offence, only trying to hold her school together in these most challenging circumstances. Decent people ought to support her.

    • Edmund Coxon says:

      You’re right Steve – licking stamps has precious little to do with this. What is highlighted is the simple fact that were she to write a letter where she could sign her own name, it would give a greater appearance of personal touch and caring. As I said, ‘maybe I’m old fashioned’ but these things do matter to some at least and particularly when dealing with sensitive issues to which every parent has an absolute right to straightforward and wholsome answer in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, or perhsps otherwise, you do not speak for the majority of parents and therefore cannot state how they prefer to receive correspondence. To use the slight annoyance I raise as a conduit for describing me and/or others as ignorant bigots, inverted snobs or somehow indecent is a cheap shot not worthy of a second hearing. It is interesting to note that Moreland has climbed down from her earlier email position acknowledging that enquiries are ongoing into more recent episodes of alleged misconduct. I hope her ’round robin’ communiques are better received, although somehow, I doubt it will fill people with a warm sense that at last, she has matters under control!

      • I did not describe you personally as a bigot or anything else. Perhaps you might read my letter again. I am just amazed reading the attacks on Ms Moreland (just the rudeness of the references to “Moreland” I find contemptible) – she has a good track record at Chets and as we know managed to secure huge Government investment in the modernisation of the school and the provision of the kind of modern facilities which might make teaching and learning more “open” and fulfil many of the objectives people claim to want. However, there seems to be a campaign to drive her out. She would still be a valued candidate for headship elsewhere and I do not see what you have to gain from making her life a misery. I doubt Chetham’s would attract any serious candidates now… so if parents want the school to recover and flourish they had better get behind her not drive her out. And attacking her over trivia at such terrible times is I think a mere expression of prejudice and the British tendency to rush to jdugement of all and sundry regardless of evidence. We see it every day in the gutter press.

        • Unfortunately Mrs Moreland happens to be the public face and spokesperson for the school as well as the head. It is also this school more than any other that happens to be in the spotlight at the moment. Therefore she does tend to get mentioned in discussion of the situation with the school and the wider problems with abuse in music and her actions do tend to get criticised. I don’t think anyone thinks that this whole mess would be sorted out by simply replacing one member of school staff at one school. If only it were that easy.

  8. It seems to me if I may try to make a concilliatory point here that the targeting of the head is happening because the chairman of governors is not taking responsibility for what is ultimately a governors’ issue. It is the chair of governors who should be speaking for the school about issues which cross the times of many different heads, all appointed by the governors and child protection procedures all presumably approved by the governors. I am also surprised that HMC and ISI have not come to the support of the school. If the school is admitted to HMC then HMC has a responsibility to it. It pays them a lot of money.

    My sense is indeed of repsonsible people not willing to take responsibility, but Ms Moreland is not the right target.

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