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Just in: Chetham’s admit police are looking into ‘more recent cases’ of sex abuse

The following letter went out this afternoon from the head, Claire Moreland, correcting a claim in her previous parents’ letter that the police were only investigating ‘historic’ incidents from 20-40 years ago.

moreland

 

 Dear ……,    I am endeavouring to keep you as up-to-date as I can with any developments in the ongoing police investigation, without wishing to burden you unnecessarily.  Following recent media speculation, the police confirmed to  me yesterday afternoon that a number of more recent allegations/complaints  are being treated as part of their wider investigation. I am sure we can all appreciate why, under the current circumstances, the police are following up on every piece of information passed to them which might be  of any potential concern. Unfortunately I am not able to provide any more details at the moment, but I will keep you updated with the best  information I can at any one time.   As always, if you have any specific concerns please do not  hesitate to contact me or any one of my team.   Best wishes,….

The school has failed to comment on its delay in sharing the reports from ISI and Manchester City Council on pupil safety.

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Comments

  1. Not what I wanted to read.

    I am very glad that Claire Moreland is being this open and candid (other schools and music departments please take note – not that she has much option anymore)

    However this means more people have been hurt.

    I hold by a statement I’ve said elsewhere. Chets is probably the safest place to educate a child right at this very moment. Any school that is being over complacent is where I’d be concerned.

    • Joanna, I remember at the time of the release of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six some Tory MPs lining up to argue how we should see their release as a triumph for the justice system (far from it – it was an indictment that they had been convicted in the first place). I am afraid that your sentiments above seem to apply a comparable set of standards.

  2. So should anyone – especially concerned parents – be expected to conclude from this latest missive that Ms Moreland has only just been alerted to the fact that the police, with whom she and the school have supposedly been fully co-operating for some time, are including allegations and complaints of far more recent origin than the 20+ years that she has previously been at pains to claim?

    I do not know and will not speculate, but the credibility stakes do not appear to be getting any higher as matters progress, do they?

    • Ian Edmundson says:

      Read her letter – she was told yesterday afternoon about these more recent claims. Claire Moreland is a very honest person for whom, as a past parent of Chets, I have a great deal of respect for.

      • I did read it., of course – just as I’ve also read her previous ones. You will surely note from my post that I am accusing no one of anything here, but I maintain that if she had to rely on being “told” yesterday about these additional claims when, as head of the school, she had already issued statements about the police investigation only concerning itself with issues going back farther than 20 years ago, it doesn’t look particularly good. That’s all.

      • Ian Pace says:

        Well, I will reiterate something I’ve said elsewhere in the case of the most generous interpretation of John Vallins (one which I do not believe in his case): just supposing there have still been a range of abusive practices going on at Chet’s up until recently, and the head was genuinely unaware of any of them – what does that say in terms of basic competence?

        • Charles Boney says:

          Here we go again, Ian. ‘ just supposing…..’ you lay down your own speculation with which to condemn someone talking about their ‘basic competence’ Can you explain to us all why you seem to denigrate all that Chets stands for? Is it that you are just against this kind of education? If so, the best way is to be an active member of a political party, get its policy changed and help win a General election to implement change. Oh, and by the way you would also have to end the elitist football academy, scrap support for athletes for the 2016 Olympics, close the Royal Opera House etc.. etc… These youngsters are the future of classical music … not just here but worldwide…. please please support them

          Charles Boney

          • Charles, I am a member of a political party (Labour), and have been lobbying politicians of all parties over this. I do not ‘denigrate all that Chets stands for’ and have made clear in some statements positive aspects of the place and the education I received. I get the impression, on the other hand, that you wish to minimise the extremely severe events which have gone on affecting children under the school’s care. This sort of attitude is one reason why abuse of all types has been able to continue unchecked over a long period of time.

            But if you are asking me whether I care more about the welfare of children, or your idea of the ‘future of classical music …. not just here but worldwide’ (you might care to bear in mind that plenty of people have made important contributions to classical music who did not go through one of these schools), then I have no hesitation in coming down in favour of the former. Not to do so is in my mind a sign of the distorted morality to which the judge drew attention in his remarks upon sentencing Brewer.

          • I am not a member of a political party. I did not go to Chetham’s school of music.

            I am however a music graduate, and some of my contemporaries did, others were members of the National Youth Choir.

          • And by the way, the ‘just supposing’ was so as not to wholly exclude the possibility of a head genuinely knowing nothing about what has gone on in the school of which they are in charge.

          • Steve Hawker says:

            @Charles Boney – while I congratulate you on being Chair of Governors for a really lovely school (I taught there for a year), might I respectfully suggest that as you are looking to enter local politics a little diplomacy might not go amiss. Reasoned argument based on the facts is the way forward – to ensure the positive aspects of “what Chet’s stands for” remain and that the damaging aspects are corrected. Here’s a quote from Ian Pace’s blog:

            “Since starting the petition I have been inundated with correspondence, including a vast amount of testimonies to sexual abuse throughout the various specialist music schools and colleges, as well as equally disturbing information on sustained psychological abuse, sometimes with lasting and decimating consequences. This can never be justified, and I do not at all accept that it is in any sense a necessary part of musical education.” (http://ianpace.wordpress.com/)

            So Charles, if you knew what Ian Pace knows, maybe you would also think it only right to call headteachers and school administrations to account.

          • Perhaps you could declare your stake in this Charles Boney. Do you have any particular reason to support Chetham’s and the general establishment so vehemently? If not, and if you are just a concerned outsider, then you may just not yet be party to the kind of information that would give you cause for concern. We all certainly have much less information to go on than Ian Pace, the police and others close to the centre of the storm, except for those who have been involved in carrying out or covering up abuse of course. At the moment, many just can’t believe that things could be as bad as those campaigning think they are. Let’s hope that many of those expressing concerns about the campaign / campaigners rather than about abuse fall into this camp and will change their minds the more they learn as information comes out. Those in that camp would do better to concentrate on gathering information rather than prematurely shooting the messenger. There is another related camp of people who aren’t taking in what they know because they don’t want to believe it. This is understandable and human nature, but something we all need to try to guard against. We need to be as honest with ourselves as we can and find ways to cope with what we are learning that do not involve denying it to the detriment of victims. There are other camps too though, unfortunately, however big or small they may be. I have no idea who specifically falls into which, but the other camps are more of a worry, so let’s hope they are thinly populated: There are those who don’t know (as yet ignorant of the facts and admirably trying to moderately give all parties the benefit of the doubt), those who don’t want to know (in denial about what they are learning, haven’t yet managed to take it in, maybe feel angry about it and turn that anger on the messengers), those who don’t care either way (they are just more concerned about other things and this whole thing is too inconvenient) and then of course, there are those who don’t want others to know. To everyone who is reading this, for the sake of all victims and common decency, please be someone who makes it their business to know and to do something about it, or to support those who are doing so.

          • To the last, I will defend the presumption of innocence, despite the undoubted difficulty of proving certain allegations which took place a long time ago, often with no witnesses. Not all of the allegations I have heard (including psychological abuse and to some extent institutional or individual complicity) necessarily lead to obvious criminal charges. BUT, when you have heard as many wide-ranging allegations as I have, it would be very hard to imagine that *all* of these, or even the majority, are fabrications. Every criminal charge needs to be assessed and tried on its own merits, with the presumption of innocence remaining. But the scale of the allegations leaves me in absolutely no doubt that there is an urgent need for a serious inquiry into what has been and is going on in musical education.

            The statements from Chet’s following the sentencing of Michael Brewer do not allow for the possibility that the school might also share some responsibility. That perspective I find highly naive.

          • Charles Boney says:

            Some points of clarification which others might have misread or I didn’t explain clearly enough:

            I am Chair of Governors of a small school in Cornwall – not Chets! But in the training I have received I have got up to date on all Child Protection issues, as well as having experience as an elected Councillor.

            My interest in all this is that I have a daughter at the school who is thriving and we as parents cannot express enough our delight at her education.

            I taught for many years (was also an NUT rep) and condemn absolutely the behaviour of a tiny minority who must be punished severely and kept banned from the profession. However I also know of cases where people have been unfairly accused and their careers and lives wrecked even though they have been cleard.

            Finally, we could not have afforded to send her there and are grateful for the many thousands of pounds of taxpayers money which has helped her.

            My experience of dealing with controversial public issues has led me to the view that the professionals should be left to do their work. Asking questions and challenging facts is fine, but moving on, as several have done, to speculation and questioning people’s integrity and competence just does not help.

          • Concerned parent says:

            Charles – I also have a child at Chets and am also grateful for the many thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money that has been spent on her going there. But I am also very concerned about the lack of accountability for that level of taxpayer funding – much less accountability than an ordinary state school would have to submit to.
            While I agree with you that false accusations are wrong and can harm people’s careers and lives, I am not aware of any indication that this is occurring at Chets. Moreover I know how hyper-careful the media are being about naming people and making allegations for fear of legal action. Given the massive silence and denial at very many levels which has covered this issue for decades, I think we should be doing everything we can to encourage people to speak out and support them when they do so.
            I have been on the other end of dealing with “controversial public issues” – i.e. with the campaigners who want real deep-seated change in a number of situations in education and social care. In my experience when a problem as acute as the one at Chets arises, the last thing to do is to “leave it to the professionals”. The professionals have had ample time and opportunity to address it, and they have distinguished themselves by their failure to do so. Why? Because they thought they could, because it would be easier, because the costs of confronting the problem were perceived to be greater than the costs of not doing so. The fact is the professionals at Chets and beyond (such as in the ISI) have let very many students and parents, past and present, down – not all by any means, and maybe not even the majority – but an opinion poll (which some fora have attempted as a way of closing down discussion on this topic) is absolutely not an acceptable means of justifying the unjustifiable.

  3. AnotherChetsParent says:

    I am also the parent of children at Chet’s and I am very worried by the events of the last few days. The School’s endlessly-repeated line that this is all historic seems to be falling to bits. Am I cynical? I find it difficult to believe Mrs Moreland wasn’t aware of the complaints before today. It is disturbing if the school is trying to block the Independent Schools Inspectorate/Manchester Council Report. The school needs to stop spinning and start being properly open about what has happened and any problems with current pastoral care.

    A central problem in all of this is the lack of a Chet’s parent group. At other schools, parents would now be acting together to try to compel the governors to release the inspection report. Parents are isolated and only hear information from the school and, occasionally, the media. Big changes are needed and I am beginning to wonder whether the current lot are up to the job.

    • Is there really no parents group at Chet’s. Time to form one, fast.

      • Penelope Bisby says:

        I also found that parents were completely isolated, particularly parents of day pupils. And pupil safety (not sexual, abuse but bog standard safety) never appeared to be on the school’s agenda. I was guardian to the orphaned daughter of a close friend, and later parent of a day pupil from 2004-7. In that time the school required me to give ‘blanket permission’ for my friend’s daughter to stay out at weekends whenever she wished, sent our 11 year old daughter home alone at night after a rehearsal finished early, before we arrived to collect her, and failed to inform parents of pupils about a vicious attack on a senior pupil by a group of youths who daily hung around outside the school gates. Compared to the many schools I have worked in, Chethams’s practices appeared surreal and the time our daughter attended the school was frankly, a rather shocking experience for us.

        • Concerned parent says:

          I echo your perceptions. I have a number of instances where the school has been very negligent in terms of physical safety, and like you, also have experience of other independent boarding schools which shows that this is neither inevitable nor normal.

          • I agree, Norman, that a parents’ group is needed right now. What is stopping parents forming their own group and, as others have suggested, communicating by the various modern means available? Perhaps it is that they cannot find each other? Perhaps it is because some are afraid to openly air views for fear of jeopardising things for their child? Perhaps such a group could be set up and openly advertised where those involved can stay anonymous, but can discuss things – similar to this format, but just for parents.

          • Concerned parent says:

            There is a huge problem for parents finding each other – especially if their children board and they live a long way away so do not go to many school events.
            A closed fb group may be an idea, I don’t know.
            The fact remains that many parents are very fearful of causing trouble for their child whom they rightly feel is in a very vulnerable position at the school – it’s not as if it’s easy to find an alternative school of the same ilk if your child has to leave Chets.
            However a support group for parents is sorely needed – especially as many have little knowledge of music/the musical world at Chets and are easily led into accepting the school knows best for their child until things start to go seriously wrong.

          • You may use Slipped Disc for the purpose, CP. We will set aside a space for parents to elect a committee and exchange with it, if there is sufficient interest. Anonymity will be preserved, when required.

        • past parent says:

          There is life after Chets..We removed 2 day pupils..and they thrived.

  4. Charles Boney says:

    Can we get some reality here folks? An inspection report is not owned by the School who have no right to publish it. As a Chair of a School Governors I know that I would be in serious breach if I allowed a draft report to be published or leaked. Comments about any School keeping a report secret are nonsense. These matters must be handled in a sensitive and fully professional way.

    If there is a credible complaint against any currently serving member of staff in any school in the country there is a clearly laid down procedure involving local Social workers, Police, Local Council. The person concerned is suspended during investigations for child safety reasons. The fact that no such action seems to have been taken rather leads to the speculation that other complaints are not of a ‘child protection’ nature.

    Ms Moreland has communicated with parents at every stage of these tragic events and it is. frankly, outrageous to bring her integrity into question in the way a minority of comments have done.

    Chets pupils are spread far and wide (incl here to Cornwall but also many countries in Europe and worldwide) I regularly attend Governors meetings, PTAs etc here but I am going to travel to Manchester for an evening event! It is just not possible to have the kind of meetings held in other schools. Every opportunity is provided for parents to scommunicate with the school whenever necessary.

    Can we let the police, Social workers and others do their job? – oh and how about encouraging the pupils many of whom will be trying to work hard for examinations over Easter, as well as doing the several hours practice a day.

    Charles Boney (not anonymous feel free to email me if you feel the need charlesrboney@gmail.com

    • This was expressed very eloquently.

      I particularly liked the paragraph starting “Can we let the police, social workers and others…”

      Every one does need to be mindful about the children who are taking exams, who are working hard, and have their school in the middle of a media scandal.

      However, for the greater good, do remember those abused, and those prevented from being abused by this action.

      As a teacher I have every support for Claire Moreland, and the governing staff at Chets. With respect for them and everyone there at present. What has been done is done. What is more important for these individuals is the care of their current students, the interests of whom it is clear by the tone of everything they have written recently they do have at the forefront of their minds.

      I have an interest in the case for personal and professional reasons. As a result, I would like to see discretion in this matter as there are children and vulnerable adults involved.

    • Let’s go one step further, Charles, let’s help the police, social workers and others do their job. In fact let’s go even further and be ‘others’ who are doing our civic duty and our duty as human beings by helping to highlight, challenge and tackle the problem of abuse in music education. In the sometimes closed and cloistered world that has harboured this problem, police, social workers and others can only do their job if those involved are open, cooperative and helpful and if they don’t obstruct action and discussion or attack those acting and discussing.

  5. Martin Roscoe says:

    Chetham’s really need to wonder whether it is wise to still have Edward Gregson (Principal RNCM in 2002) and Philip Ramsbottom (Deputy Chairman of RNCM Board in 2002) on the school’s Board, in view of their support of Malcolm Layfield’s appointment as Head of Strings at the RNCM,,,as seen in my correspondence with the college on the Guardian website last month

    • Damned if they do, Martin, and damned if they don’t. They can’t do anything until the Layfield issue is brought to a head.

      • Martin Roscoe says:

        @ Norman why not ? It would send a clear signal from the school that the past is abhorrent.. Regardless momentarily of possible illegality the unethical and immoral aspects are beyond question I would have thought.. But if you insist …we can wait…

        • Risk of action for defamation.

          • He’s right.

            You both are. I don’t think anyone working in music education likes the situation.

            It is far better to wait.

            How do you think Jenevora Williams must have felt in relation to the Michael Brewer case? She still is actively involved with National Youth Choir?

            I understand your objections Martin, as you tried to stop this over ten years ago. The letters even included one from Frances Andrade (nee Stockley).

          • Martin Roscoe says:

            Just to be clear Norman (and I will absolutely accept it) you think if Chetham’s removed them from the Board they might be subject to a lawsuit for defamation? Seems extraordinary…

          • I’m no lawyer, but I have heard such advice in other cases.

    • The way you were treated by Edward Gregson re Malcolm Layfield’s appointment at the RNCM was very underhand. Yes I read the file of letters and was disgusted.

      • Martin Roscoe says:

        Thank you Joanna..I have had well over a thousand messages by post, email, facebook and text to the same effect !

        • Whether or not these people are removed, their presence is another reason why we should all be concerned about the current state of affairs at the school. It is more reason why we should be sceptical about the party line of all problems being in the past and the current school bearing no resemblance to the past school where such horrendous abuses and neglect took place. It is another reason why we should not assume that all is well there or obstruct and cast aspersions on those who do express concerns.

  6. AnotherChetsParent says:

    The school was right to invite the ISI and Manchester Council to inspect current pastoral arrangements. Concerned Parent says the report was due yesterday but the school is challenging its findings. If you seek an independent review be prepared to publish the results. If the report is unfair we will see it.

    Mrs Moreland’s previous statements have emphasised the “historic” nature of the allegations. Only it turns out that some complaints are not historic. Were none of the more recent complaints raised with the school first? If the management knew about these complaints why did they say they were all historic?

    Charles Boney makes a good point when he says that many Chet’s pupils come from far away. I hope he didn’t have to travel too many miles to post his comment. The school is missing out here. A virtual parents group would be a good way of *supporting* the school particularly with international parents and, yes, providing a critical voice when that’s needed. Parents need to be able to talk to *each other* and not just to the school. Dubious patterns of behaviour get picked up far more easily when people share their experiences.

    Martin Roscoe is absolutely right. There should be no place for these people on the Chet’s board.

    I agree that we need to let the police do their job. The ISI and Manchester Council have done theirs, so let’s hear what they have to say.

    • Michal Kaznowski says:

      From the Independent Schools Council Website:
      ‘Schools that are members of the associations that constitute the Independent Schools Council (ISC) are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), the professionally independent inspection arm of the Council.’

      I am also unaware that any of the specialist Music Schools have a parent body, or if they do, that the parent body does anything more than fundraising.

      It is becoming clear that the overlap between senior colleges and governors on the boards of specialist schools is in need of reform ( as highlighted by Martin Roscoe) as some governors have a proven track record of inaction in child protection.

      It is clear also that parent bodies are needed. How could they be useless in light of what has happened.

      I am not comfortable with an inspection body, which is a part of the independent schools council, inspecting its own members. Where is OFSTED? The specialist music schools always sacrifice the children’s rights to protect their reputation

      There is a deafening silence on all these matters from the Specialist Music Schools. What we are seeing is a strategy of waiting out the bad publicity, and then business as usual with no inconvenient changes to past practice. Above all, emphasis is being placed on it all happening in the past and current practice won’t allow the problems.

      Current practice involves negligeable change in procedures except for CRB and Social services, changes which have little effect on the grooming in one to one teaching.

      The changes needed are obvious to all but the people running these schools. Changes in governance, inspection, teaching practice, etc. Now!

      Michal Kaznowski

      • Concerned parent says:

        With you 100% Michal.

      • Absolutely right, Michal. And this is why we need genuinely independent people, with no specific allegiances to this educational sub-sector, taking a long and hard look at all aspects of music teaching in such institutions.

        Some of the responses of opponents to an inquiry have been amazing: one wanted instant answers to what its findings would be (if one knew that, the inquiry itself would be redundant); another tried to poo-poo any possible value in bringing in the view of expert educationalists, psychologists, those involved in child safety and protection, preferring to let the sector be self-regulating; another claimed that it would simply be a waste of money. One of these also managed even to make such ludicrous claims as ‘At first glance this lengthy petition seems to be a demand for legislation of some sort (how else are changes to be enacted?) to ban base instinct and dark thoughts – patently ridiculous’ and ‘Hopefully Chethams will now be allowed the time and space to pick itself up, dust itself down and get on with the sterling work of training young musicians – or should they require that all new male members of staff can only be employed if they agree to castration?’

        • Thank you Ian for drawing attention to some of the arguments used against an inquiry. Some of the opposition and reasons given for it, including the ones you recount, are truly shocking. Mud slinging between different parties is pointless and distracting. The examination of arguments is really important though, because arguments such as these may convince some people if they do not scrutinise them and perhaps respect those peddling them. They clearly don’t stand much scrutiny. The more that people in the music world transcribe to these views or are convinced by them, the more patent need there is for an external inquiry and external intervention. Happily the judge in the Brewer case seems to have noticed this and pointed it out.

      • Liam Wright says:

        http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/files/1811965/urn/SC063512.pdf

        This is the latest OFSTed report (from 2011) on the social care at Chet’s.
        All of the reports are standard procedure and are almost dismissive of the pupils with their generality.
        I can see that they are only doing their job though, but we won’t see much effort on behalf of OFSTed to make a formal inquiry (unless we ask them of course)

  7. Concerned parent says:

    Hang on Joanna. Mrs Moreland is not being open and candid at all – she has been caught out lying in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/26/chethams-music-school-sexual-abuse-inquiry) which is why she made this statement. The school has known for weeks that it was under investigation by the police over incidents and teachers who belong to Mrs Moreland’s tenure and reach into the present. Mrs Moreland has been far from open or candid, now or in the past. Present teachers are investigation – Wen Zhou Li a current violin teacher was arrested in February – and the Greater Manchester Police told me that a number of current parents have contacted them with concerns, and I know that at least one complaint that was made by a pupil at the school in the wake of the Brewer verdict was passed on to the police. Mrs Moreland has been well aware of these things too but has preferred to play dumb to “protect the reputation” of the school. She has lost the faith of many people who know what is really going on – which includes a number of pupils at the school. Personally I am staggered that both the governors and senior management at the school think this is the best way to handle the present situation.

    • What Mrs Moreland is guilty of (or not) in the past won’t help anyone now. What is of a greater importance is what is she is doing NOW, which appears to be her job.

      • So, Joanna, are you saying that it does not matter if someone has spun a load of lies and half-truths previously, so long as they get a little closer to the truth when they are forced to? Only concerted pressure – coming in part from various parents and current pupils as well as the wider ex-Chet’s community – has led to Moreland’s earlier statements not being taken at face value, forcing some corrections.

        • Ian, let’s be careful with the noun ‘lie’. Ms Moreland may not have been in possession of the full information when making her statements.

          • Well, I would cite the 20-40 years claim, when it is fully public knowledge that Wen Zhou Li, who has only been employed by the school since less than 20 years ago, was arrested in February.

          • Liam Wright says:

            Mr. Li was arrested on allegations for his behaviour at the RNCM; not Chethams. He would be fairly idiotic to attempt sexual assault at Chethams, because we have effective security and pastoral care.
            Mr. Li’s student were not digusted or scared when they foound out he was arrested. They were upset that they had lost their teacher. A girl in my year refused to accept that he had been arrested and waited outside his teaching room for an hour.

          • Martin Roscoe says:

            Liam it would be much better for you not to comment on Frances Andrade.. Your remark about her is offensive to say the least

        • Not at all!

          I am saying be careful what is said at present because there may be more to this case than either of us know. I’m not a fly in Claire Moreland’s Office and neither are you.

          The woman is having to make press-statements, write letters to parents and fulfill the role of a School Principal (one that apparently ‘anyone can do’ when they do not have the job if the way the average headteacher is now treated has any bearing on this case). When her staff are being ‘economical with the truth’ then what she will say ends up factually inaccurate. She may have lied. I do not know what her intent was at each time… and neither do you.

          • Again, some here have more information than others, but given Ian Pace’s current position, he probably has more than most. If the head didn’t know, then she should not have acted like she knew and reassured parents that allegations were all at least 20 years old. That in itself is unacceptable. This probably doesn’t just represent her personal approach to things and her particular competence unfortunately. It probably goes much wider and deeper than that, which is depressing and worrying for anyone who cares whether children are abused or neglected in musical education or not.

      • Concerned parent says:

        Joanne – when does the past end? Five years ago, a year ago, three weeks ago, two days ago? The problem is that there is irrefutable evidence that Mrs Moreland IS being economical with the actualité. Perhaps she thinks that’s part of her job (if you just listen to lawyers and PR people and governors who want to cover their own backs) but as this debacle goes on, I think more and more people that the only way to deal positively with the current crisis is a completely new approach characterised by openness and humility – and a deep and abiding sense of how pervasive the closeted culture of abuse has been.

        • The name is “Joanna” not “Joanne” and I think you will find I have answered that question elsewhere on Slippeddisc.

          I would take care here as I’m on the side of victims, but I am not about to launch a witch hunt.

          Mass hysteria is not going to do any child any good. Let Claire Moreland do her job. I do not believe she has molested anyone.

          • Concerned parent says:

            Just because people see that there are institutional and management failings which have allowed abusers to continue and which have effectively silenced victims does not mean they are calling for a witch hunt. If you speak to any victims, you will discover that the story of their abuse does not begin and end with their abuser – often the hardest bit to hear is how the adults who were in loco parentis at Chets didn’t notice what was happening, said it was impossible, said the abuser didn’t mean it/couldn’t help it/ was a great teacher, trivialised any complaint, swept it under the carpet or blamed the victim. They thus amplified the sense of betrayal and guilt engendered by the original abuse, and were, wittingly or not, responsible for incalculable harm which has affected victim’s whole lives.

            I don’t think Mrs Moreland has abused anyone but she is responsible for an institution which has harboured abusers and failed to make it possible for victims to speak out or be heard. This is true about other forms of abuse – especially emotional/psychological – and the reason why the police are interested in the school’s current record of pastoral care.

          • Liam Wright says:

            You are deliberately disregarding the effort Ms. Moreland puts into ensuring our pastoral care at Chetham’s; She cares deeply about the school and you are a foolish person to assume that she is responsible for anything that would be detrimental to our safety. YOU ARE NOT A STUDENT. Your child probably has the same feelings about our school as the rest of us. There is individual concern at our school, because we have collective feelings about Chethams.

            We all love Chethams in some way; as an institution it stands for preservation of a dying art and for the enrichment of music. In practise, it can be extremely difficult to manage here; because the departments have little interaction and we must fit in a full curriculum in a third of the space. We all feel a little acrimonious about the stern behavioour of the practise assistants and the dogmatic implementation of music courses, rehearsals and the academic music curriculum. The instrumental teachers are generally wonderful people, they have their idiosyncrasies but nontheless they are wise enough to have some restraint in their behaviour because they know how hard it is for us.
            Stephen Threlfall is a good man. Claire Moreland is a good woman. If you honestly believe for one moment that any of the students here are incapable of speaking about sexual abuse then you have raised your child poorly. As a student here I have had no concern with speaking to staff about my problems, despite being quite introverted when provoked with real people. Chethams is quite simply not the same instituition it was thirty years ago, and if anybody has a concern about abuse, which from my experience can say very little about, the last thing they should do is remain quiet, discuss it through the media, or kill themselves. I have nothing but the utmost sympathy for Miss. Andrade, but I can’t help but think she must have been in already dire circumstances to prolong her suffering.

        • Concerned Parent, you are so right there.

          • I am glad that you are happy at school and do not any major problems there, Liam. I am sure you are right that the school is a very different place now and I hope you are right that there are no problems with abuse there either. Some ex pupils did also feel similarly happy and satisfied when the worst of the abuse was happening, though, and unfortunately abuse can be very well hidden by perpetrators and victims as we have seen. I do not ask you to assume the worst by any means. Why should you when your experience has been good. I do ask you to keep an open mind though. In my view we need to be able to consider the possibility, however remote it seems, that others at the school may have experienced abuse. many ex pupils have been very upset that friends of theirs were being ill-treated and that they knew nothing about it. This was in the past, but it just shows that it is possible and can’t be ruled out without looking in to things first. Those who are making complaints to the police, however recent or historical they are, are probably being instructed not to discuss it in public, so they could be reading this and remaining silent, as could those who are too afraid to come forward or don’t want to discuss things because it is too upsetting. Although it is stressful for those who love the school to consider this, the alternative is worse (possibly letting abuse go unnoticed and victims go unsupported as happened in the past). The simple solution to preserving the school and ensuring that there is no concealed abuse is for there to be an external inquiry. This is the view that many now hold anyway. Many of those people also love the school or other similar institutions or believe in what they stand for and are trying to achieve. Then, if there is an independent inquiry and if you are right, you will be proved right and the school’s reputation will be restored. If there are hidden problems highlighted by an inquiry then they can be tackled. Most of us hope that even then the school could go on, having tackled any problems and changed for the better. Those who don’t believe that there are any problems to address could also support an inquiry as a way to clear the school’s name and truly move on. I am sure that most people would agree that it is possible to be anti-abuse and pro-Chethams / other institutions. Many people are.

          • There is a presumption by the parents that I know nothing about what it is to be a victim of abuse, or have not dealt with anyone affected this time. Whilst this may be the case within the last twenty years, you presume incorrectly on both counts.

            It is easy to judge when you are not fully aware of facts. This is my main reason for giving Claire Moreland the benefit of the doubt. I am not aware of what she did or did not know at any time, therefore I have the decency of giving her the benefit of the doubt.

            I am certain the truth will out at the inquiry, and if she is found to have behaved in an unprofessional manner, that is the time to criticise her, not now.

  8. Geoff Miles says:

    Claire Moreland is in a difficult position. However – I think we have become so thoroughly fed up with this standard corporate / political response to allegations of corruption or impropriety, that a leader who for once had the courage to ignore the advice of her legal or PR advisors and made an honest attempt to tell the truth would gain more respect. A former student of the institution she runs has died. Many more were damaged. A genuine human apology would be worth more than a studied media strategy.

    • Concerned parent says:

      I agree with you Geoff – but maybe we’re just too idealistic. On the other hand this is a time for some visionary leadership in place of bureaucratic managerialist game-playing.

      • Geoff Miles says:

        It seems to me that a form of siege mentality has evolved in the management of our artistic institutions, probably over many years. There’s an idea that management are somehow the thin blue line protecting a valuable cultural asset against the ignorance of the politicians who hold the purse strings, the self-destructive tendencies of the artists themselves, the “dumbed down” public, and a hostile and self-serving media. (If you read some of the threads relating to the destruction of US orchestras you’ll see some pretty good evidence of this way of thinking). With this mindset, honestly appealing to or communicating directly with the public or media begins to seem hopelessly naive. Instead management inhabit a strange political world where media initiatives have to be conceived on their own terms, and all communication becomes “spin”.

        I can’t see how this works to anyone’s advantage – it causes a great deal of stress for the managers themselves, it devalues the work of the artists themselves (by confirming its general lack of relevance to society)

        • Geoff Miles says:

          It seems to me that a form of siege mentality has evolved in the management of our artistic institutions, probably over many years. There’s an idea that management are somehow the thin blue line protecting a valuable cultural asset against the ignorance of the politicians who hold the purse strings, the self-destructive tendencies of the artists themselves, the “dumbed down” public, and a hostile and self-serving media. (If you read some of the threads relating to the destruction of US orchestras you’ll see some pretty good evidence of this way of thinking). With this mindset, honestly appealing to or communicating directly with the public or media begins to seem hopelessly naive. Instead management inhabit a strange political world where media initiatives have to be conceived on their own terms, and all communication becomes “spin”.

          I can’t see how this works to anyone’s advantage – it causes a great deal of stress for the managers themselves, it devalues the work of the artists (by confirming its general lack of relevance to society), and it gets in the way of a healthy relationship between artist and public, by complicating the feedback loop that is essential to maintaining artistic quality. Solve these issues, and you’d be well on the way to creating an institution where abuse of power was less likely.

  9. A TED talk about tendencies to overemphasize ‘unusual’ characteristics – with disregard to normalities.
    It’s worth watching the entire thing.

    • thankyou for this fascinating link.
      Ronson’s description of Broadmore is especially pertinent in light of Savile’s controversial patronage of that place.

    • Ex-chets pupil says:

      Liam, regarding your earlier comments, the fact that you are currently a student at the school gives you no authority to comment on the effectiveness of any of the school’s policies, and neither does it give you the authority to speak on behalf of the school. You are loudly indignant about all of these revelations, and this is clearly because you have enjoyed your time and the school and have not experienced any abuse: for you it is a great place to be, as it is for many pupils, and you have been lucky in this respect. I attended the school for seven years, and left less than ten years ago. When everything came out about Michael Brewer, many of my classmates had similar reactions to you regarding any suggestions that Chets might still be in any way similar. However, quite a few of us weren’t in the least bit surprised, having been on the receiving end of a lot of inappropriate behaviour by staff, not to mention having witnessed a whole lot of emotional abuse and neglect. The staff in question are still working there. You ought to realise that you are one of the lucky ones, and not assume that your experience is the same as everybody else’s. You are also in no position to talk about the school’s policies, as you are a pupil there and probably have no idea how it compares to most other institutions. I thought that a lot of what went on (or what didn’t go on, in the case of child protection) was normal until I left the school and talked to people at university about their school experiences.

      While the school does seem to have improved a lot since the days of Ling etc, it is still not as safe a place as it ought to be. I hope that a side-result of the investigations into these crimes is that the pastoral side of Chets as it is now comes into a serious review. When I was there, I desperately wanted to talk to the inspectors, but was prevented from doing so. Like many others, I never spoke up when I was there because of the fear of being vilified. The inappropriate relationships between some members of staff and pupils, combined with a woeful lack of pastoral care damaged me and many of my colleagues; many of us suffered from serious mental health problems at the time that were obvious to any staff members yet we were given no support, and many of us have continued to suffer from these for years after leaving. I even came across a psychiatrist who, as soon as I mentioned Chetham’s, said that he had already had two patients whose mental health troubles had started at that school.

      So please don’t assume that you know what it is like for every pupil at Chetham’s, and as Martin Roscoe said, please do not comment on past events, particularly on Frances Andrade, with such an attitude. Your comments about her were disgusting and I hope that none of her family or friends ever reads them. Perhaps when you grow up a little and have left Chets you will understand this and regret your attitude. It is nice that you wish to defend a school that you love, but you need to have more sensitivity.

      • Ex-chets pupil, what you describe is very disturbing but, alas, not so surprising, as it accords with what I have heard from other private correspondence. And it suggests much less has changed since the bad old days than some would like to suggest. There is an urgent need for issues of pastoral care at Chet’s and other musical institutions to be fully scrutinised, if we are to believe that children are safe at these places.

      • Concerned parent says:

        Ex-Chets pupil – my experience of the school has been over the last five years, and the picture you paint is all too familiar. Change is desperately needed. There is a real issue about mental health problems, which a number of students may arrive with or have a propensity to anyway, and which there is no doubt the regime at the school can exacerbate or even create. The lack of awareness by the school seems almost willed, if not perverse, and leads one to wonder about the mental health of some of the teachers and managers.

        • Charles Boney says:

          Making unwarranted remarks about mental health of staff is , IMHO, well over the top. Offensive and should be withdrawn. Rather worrying that was not moderated.

          • Ex-Wells pupil says:

            The English language allows for subtlety, nuance and irony, and perhaps you misread Concerned Parent’s remarks by taking them too literally. It’s hard to see what your argument is, and why you object to other Chetham’s pupils and parents discussing the issues they have faced or are still facing. I appreciate that your daughter enjoys being at Chets, and that you are supportive of her experience there. But that doesn’t preclude others from having had a different and more troubling experience.

            There are many considered and rational arguments being put forward on this blog post about how it seems Chetham’s headteacher and Governors are not responding appropriately to more recent and current problems of child protection (viz. ex-chets pupil and Concerned Parent’s comments). You seem to vigorously disagree with this – perhaps you’d be able to put forward a reasoned argument to support your case that nothing should be done to protect current pupils in the face of the apparent inability of the head/governors to acknowledge there may be a current problem?

          • Concerned parent says:

            I am not the first person to have wondered about the mental health of the managers of an institution which deals so badly with the mental health issues of its students because quite frankly it’s difficult otherwise to understand what has gone on. I don’t believe that the people running Chets are “bad” but I do think they have huge self-serving blindspots.
            Being offended on behalf of the staff, or being worried about Norman’s moderation is really missing the point. Very many people who signed Ian Pace’s petition were offended by the many students who have been damaged by their experiences at Chets and similar institutions – and continue to be so. Just ask your daughter about the ones who have left during the course of her career at Chets. Don’t they matter?
            As for Norman, he should get a medal for making these discussions – which are long, long overdue – possible. Michal K’s post further down this thread indicates why the power structures within the specialist schools have made it impossible for teachers who share misgivings about the schools to raise them effectively – as indeed does Martin Roscoe’s experience. There is without doubt enormous fear and inhibition about rocking the boat in the small world of classical music as people fear they will be blacklisted from performing or teaching if they do so. Hardly the sign of a healthy, happy culture.

      • Liam Wright says:

        I’m sorry if I made the wrong impression, I was writing about the collective attitude the pupils have regarding the school; I was not completely forthright in my own opinions. Personally, I’ve hated every second-moment at Chethams but I’ve learned to put up with the place because I am aware that it was a choice I made. I decided to quit my keyboard study and change to composition – I also decided to confront the staff about the problems I currently have here. The most important thing that I realised is that despite how mechanical the school seems on the surface, the staff do listen. The problem is nothing ever seems to be done unless you threaten them with either leaving or media attention. I can’t really find the right words to use, but I feel ambivalent about Chethams. I know that a rather bitter atmosphere pervades the school, but I feel compelled to stay here. I’d like to ask: Do you think the students should do something?

        • Liam Wright says:

          Another apology – on behalf of my actions earlier: I tend to be insensitive in general, and it takes a kick to realise that people aren’t quite as stoic as myself.

        • Ex-chets pupil says:

          Dear Liam,

          I am sorry for giving you a ticking off!

          I’m sorry (although not in the least surprised) to hear that you have hated a lot of your time at that school. The bit about your having learned to put up with the place because it was your choice to go there makes me sad and reminds me a lot of me, but as I don’t know the context I won’t comment on that. What I will say is that it should not be the case in any school that you have to threaten them with leaving or media attention in order to get help, and it is the pastoral side of the school that I think really lets it down nowadays.

          You ask if I think the students should do something. I don’t know what you were thinking of doing but I’m in no position to answer you or to offer any advice as I no longer live there and it is no longer my life, as it is yours. What were you thinking of doing (out of interest)?

          If there is some kind of investigation into the pastoral side of Chetham’s I would really like to share my experience and memories of some of the staff members who are still there and who I think cause a lot of damage. But I would only do this if it were going to go into some kind of report or investigation or something or be used in a useful way. I have friends who would also like to contribute. You said that the teachers listen, and there are a lot of staff there with their hearts in the right places. Unfortunately there are also some who are influential who should not have their jobs. I would happily contribute to such an enquiry under my name. As I said, it was outrageous, and I hate to think of the fact they are still working there, ignoring pupils to this day. With all the competition, the pressure, the idea of worth being tied to musical skill, the being away from home and trying to cope alone, and the fact that so many of the students are sensitive, it is no surprise that there was a lot of problems including an awful lot of depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. This was all pretty much ignored or not noticed. Some sufferers of various problems were treated really badly by those who should have been helping them. And there was a lot of inappropriate teacher-student relations and yes I do mean of a sexual nature. I just could not believe it when I went to university and spoke to people who had been to normal schools! I am in my mid twenties now and still suffering the effects of growing up and living in that environment.

          Regarding your other post, the string department was the one that needed modernising the most in my time too. It was quite a mess.

          Take care, Liam. And remember, if you do want to go to a normal school, this wouldn’t be a failure on your part. In many ways Chets is a great school, for the opportunities and education it affords. But there is a line somewhere for everyone, which will be in a different place for all people, and that line is when you start to pay for the opportunities with your happiness and your mental health. You might be nowhere near that line, or your might be on it. I didn’t realise at the time how far over it I was. Only you know where your line is. You might be fine: I don’t know.

          The reason I’m being anonymous here is that my parents have no idea about it. Because it was my choice to go (aged 11) I always pretended to them that I liked it even though they were really worried all the way through about the pastoral care (they didn’t want me to go) and repeatedly asked me if I wanted to go to a normal school. They still have no idea and I think it would break their hearts to know what it has done to me (and many of my friends). Now I’ll never tell them because it would cause them more pain than it would relieve any of mine, which is fading. They think I loved it and thrived there… indeed I did musically and academically, to the point where the staff (who seemed to have no idea of what went on) would have thought me a success story.

          • Ex Chet’s pupil, and anyone else out there who feels the same, there are lots of ways you can speak out, whether you put your name to it or not, including speaking to the police or selected parts of the media. You can also sign the petition for an inquiry if you haven’t done already and get in touch with more people who support it through the Facebook petition forum or Ian Pace’s blog. There are a lot of people speaking out in lots of ways and each person’s account lends credence to other people’s accounts, so even if you feel you got off easy or just know a little bit, if you want to and feel able you could really help get this whole thing out in the open and dealt with once and for all. It is not just sexual abuse that the police are interested in. Current pupils should certainly speak to someone outside of Chet’s for support (like Childline or the police) if they feel ill-treated there or know of someone who is or if they just need support.

  10. AnotherChetsParent says:

    Why don’t they just allow the report to be published?

    • I would like to reiterate that nobody is about to launch a ‘witch hunt’, certainly not amongst those campaigning for an inquiry in any case (some of those opposing it could possibly be accused of this, but what is the point?).

      I have also seen no evidence of ‘mass hysteria’ amongst those expressing concerns about abuse or campaigning for an inquiry. There has been some evidence of it amongst some who are campaigning for the boat not to be rocked, but hopefully this will wane in time? The three monkeys approach is not going to do any child any good.

  11. Michal Kaznowski says:

    Let me go over again what I think should be considered to improve the specialist schools management and teaching to avoid the past of sexual predation and cruelty.

    1 The teachers are left for years on their own with only visits of accompanists. The immediate superiors, the head of strings, head of Music should be duty bound to pop in to lessons each term and to see how they are going. The benefits of this are obvious

    2 The lessons should all be open, with the exception of Parents who would have to ask permission. This is because some younger children will completely change their behaviour when the parents are present. Other students should be able to come in and see and learn from the lesson. They can also get a good idea of whom to study with. The benefits of this are that teachers will find it harder to groom with more people in lessons.

    3 There should be regular meetings of the departments (unknown in some Specialist Schools) in which the students are discussed along with other things. This is both team building and discloses the attitudes of various teachers. The benefit will be in using the teaching staff better and a clearer disclosure of how some teachers teach.

    4 INSET. It is apparent that many of the teachers come from very different teaching backgrounds around the world. Lectures in current thoughts about how to teach young children, how to motivate them and deal with their emotional problems should be in place. There are not. How can the instrumental teaching pretend that it can go on year on year like this when academic teaching changed decades ago. This is so backward. Needless to say, there might be better teaching as a result, and it might deter groomers or even expose them.

    5 Peer to Peer review. Current practice in schools in Great Britain. Ignored and thought of as irrelevant by specialist music schools. This is probably the key tool to stop the grooming as it is hard to hide ones normal teaching style.

    6 Governors should have a duty to wander around the schools and in to the lessons. At the moment most of the governors are irrelevant through absence and ignorance. Professional Governors please. Obvious benefits.

    7 Parents body should have a brief to be part of the schools first line against grooming. A child normally first goes to their parent. Trickier as these schools do think themselves very perfect.

    8 A public way should be found in the school structure that the schools reputation does not come before exposing sexual abuse. Any suggestions how it could be done? A special Governor with different powers? DFE ombudsman?

    9 A way of allowing the present staff to speak about abuse. They are currently all gagged. Whistle blowing must be allowed for and taken seriously in these matters.

    10 There should be much more public involvement in the schools. The DFE is shirking its responsibility as they pay for many of the £30k places, yet fail to monitor them and leave ISI do do an in house and comfortable for a private school inspection. He who pays the Piper should call the tune.
    I am frustrated by the lack of discussion in the media of what exactly can be done to prevent the problems, as if we are at a loss to know what to do. All the suggestions above come from regular practice in schools etc in the UK but don’t happen in the Specialist Music sector. I don’t see this as radical. It is just good practice. Probably the efforts of all concerned should be with the regulatory body – the DFE to do something. It has all the powers. I don’t see that Police inquiries or Social Services inquiries will help with instrumental lessons where all the problems start. This is and always has been teaching territory.

    Michal Kaznowski

    • Clarification of some terms used:

      witch-hunt also witch hunt (wchhnt)
      n.
      An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views.

      (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)

      Mass Hysteria

      noun Psychology .
      a condition affecting a group of persons, characterized by excitement or anxiety, irrational behavior or beliefs, or inexplicable symptoms of illness.

      Also called epidemic hysteria.

      Origin:
      1930–35

      Dictionary.com Unabridged
      Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

      Three Monkeys:

      The three wise monkeys (Japanese: 三猿, san’en or sanzaru, or 三匹の猿, sanbiki no saru, literally “three monkeys”), sometimes called the three mystic apes,[1] are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.[2] The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey depicted with the three others; the last one, Shizaru, symbolizes the principle of “do no evil”. He may be shown crossing his arms.

      There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In the Western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.[3]

    • Concerned parent says:

      Michel: I would add one further point to your excellent list (which is beginning to remind me of Martin Luther’s 95 theses – which door should we nail them on?).

      Namely, that regular meetings are scheduled between instrumental tutors and parents (with or without the student present) in the same way as it is the norm for parent-teacher meetings to take place in ordinary schools. At Chets these do take place but instrumental tutors are exempt. The school has comes under perennial criticism over this because it majorly contributes to a lack of communication between parents and instrumental tutors.

      When everything is hunky dory, this doesn’t matter – but it is always a sore point when things go wrong because parents and students invariably feel that if there had been better communication – ie opportunities for communication – perhaps the problem could have been addressed before it became serious and damaging. Chets gives a standard explanation for why these meetings cannot take place, which it repeated this week, suggesting there has again been criticism, perhaps provoked by the latest ISI inspection.

      The latest response reads:

      “Communication: We have been looking carefully at how we in the Music Department communicate with you and provide information to you at key points in the year, as well as on a day-to-day basis. For a number of years now we have operated a system designed to encourage parents to contact us either via the Secretary to the Heads of Instrumental Departments (or in the case of singers my PA, Julie Scott) and Heads of Instrumental Departments by email, especially if you wish to make contact with any of our music tutors. eg: carolebooth@chethams.com juliescott@chethams.com “staffname”@chethams.com Meetings between parents and tutors are not arranged in the same formal way as with academic staff, as many of our tutors either live far from Manchester or in many cases their schedules as professional musicians and soloists make such a commitment impossible. However, we always endeavour to provide contact by telephone, email or face-to-face meetings whenever mutually convenient.” Head’s News March 2013

      All this is plausible from the school and teachers’ point of view, but a most telling sign that their interests are being put ahead of the pupils’. In practice it all depends on how assertive individual parents are in pushing for contact and how willing an individual tutor is to engage with parents – with some there is no problem, they hand over phone numbers and make themselves available. With others, they are aloof, preferring to communicate via the Head of Department, and it is not unheard of that they point blank refuse to meet parents who want to speak about problems, and that they are supported in this by the school. In any case if there were regular parent-teacher meetings the onus would not be on parents to “make a fuss” by going to the head of department etc

      If a tutor is unwilling to make the time available to communicate regularly with parents, he shouldn’t be employed. If the school cannot afford to pay the tutor to do so, it should fess up that x, y, z are bigger priorities for the budget. I’m sure a lot of parents would happily pay extra to be able to communicate with their children’s tutor, given how important he is for the happiness and progress of their children.

      I am afraid the fact that it is deemed acceptable for instrumental tutors to be sui generis in not being obliged to be in regular communication with parents (like all other teachers) is a remnant of that old-fashioned arrogant attitude which sees the instrumental tutor as a kind of god-like, guru-like parental replacement figure – a law literally unto himself.

      • Michal Kaznowski says:

        Concerned Parent has raised a very telling point in her post about meetings between parents and instrumental tutors. This goes to the heart of one of the problems at the specialist music schools.

        Let me start be re-quoting Concerned Parents post from the Head:

        “……Meetings between parents and tutors are not arranged in the same formal way as with academic staff, as many of our tutors either live far from Manchester or in many cases their schedules as professional musicians and soloists make such a commitment impossible. However, we always endeavour to provide contact by telephone, email or face-to-face meetings whenever mutually convenient.”
        Any one reading this from the Head of Schools News would reasonably draw the conclusion that many of the Instrumental Teachers have schedules that make their commitment to meetings too difficult, and that the musicians are more focused on their commitments elsewhere.

        This is a familiar argument from management. Those of you who read the Guardians publication of the correspondence between Martin Roscoe and Edward Gregson, then principal RNCM, will recall that when Martin Roscoe resigned Edward Gregson immediately added his own agenda to the RNCM press statement ‘…..he has difficulties reconciling his professional playing career with the demands of running the Keyboard Studies at the RNCM”

        Martin Roscoe immediately strongly complained that this was a new agenda and there had never been problems in that area and was a trumped up reason to suit Gregsons arguments.

        I quote all this to illustrate one of the problems that professional musicians have with how they are employed at these schools. The teachers are hourly employed, unlike their part time counterparts in the academic school. Some of the teachers are in orchestras like the BBC Northern or Halle, others are freelance players and another group concentrate on just teaching. Any meeting which they attend you can assume they are not being paid for. This does not mean they wont’t go – nearly all the teachers I have known in the 17 years I have taught in this sector would go, but the schools mostly have no agenda to have the meetings. When challenged they quote one or two teachers who might have been difficult – probably because of no pay.

        Let me quote what I wrote about one of the schools relationships with their instrumental teachers as posted in this blog.

        http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/10/sexual-bullying-police-inquiries-and-the-headless-music-school.html

        Nov 16th 2011 Slipped Disk

        “For those bloggers above who think that the Purcell Schools problems are recent let me assure you that they have built up over time. All what followed happened at the beginning of Peter Crook’s Headmastership, so he is not to blame for everything – and it would be a distraction to think so.

        Having taught at the school for many years, we started asking the school why we were not being paid holiday pay, as other teachers received elsewhere. No answers were given to our questions so after a few years I along with some colleagues asked the Musician’s Union (MU) to ask the school the same question.
        The school replied to the MU that it did not recognize anybody as representing it’s teachers and that since the start of the law (some 6-7 years previous) they had included holiday pay in the hourly teaching rate (specifically disallowed in the Act).
        When the MU pointed out that it had a complete set of pay slips from a teacher covering the year in question when the school said that it started to pay holiday pay – showing no changes, the school then agreed to pay holiday pay, though not backdating the pay (worth a complete month each year) and not apologizing to the sixty or so teachers for having against the law underpaid them!
        Shortly after that we asked for a statement of the ‘terms and conditions of our employment’ (the law says you should receive this within 8 weeks of being employed) as nobody had a contract (many people have taught over 20 years there).
        We then received a contract, described as nonnegotiable, detailing our employment. This was duly shown to ISM and MU lawyers who amended it and then the school agreed it. What the contract showed was that the school had not told its employees that they had been entitled to Pension contributions since the early 1990’s (that reduced a senior teacher to tears) and the way they had been paying sick pay had been faulty. No apology offered by the school.
        At the same time I remember, but I could be wrong, that the Academic teachers were in uproar over a salary increment which which they were owed for some time (over a year) which the school simply was not paying.
        I paid the price for my activities and a year later my cello class was composed of all but one second study pupils or near equivalents. I had up to this point (some 14/5 years) not taught any second study.”

        I quote this to show that how the teachers have been employed has been problematic, and this I believe has been typical of the schools.

        It is very hard to be a self employed musician in the UK. The MU (Musician’s Union) report of a few years ago ‘Nice work, if you can get it’ paints a picture of low pay and low conditions of employment, with self employed musicians earning a lot less than academic teachers. It is an industry where there is massive insecurity of employment. Rock the boat any way you will lose work.

        The tradition of employing instrumental teachers as casual paid workers not part of a school is completely inappropriate for the specialist school as it makes the instrumental teachers very insecure – indeed my employment proves the point.

        I quote another entry on this blog page dated Nov 12th 2011 from Past Teacher:

        “Any parent with a child at the Purcell School would expect the following to happen in the instrumental teaching at a specialist music school:
        Regular meetings between HoDs (Heads of Departments) and academic and instrumental teachers about the progress of their child.

        An internal music examination system that has the approval and design from the teachers that teach it and is regularly reviewed.

        Instrumental teachers used in auditions to the school.

        Discussion of orchestra placement of students with teachers.

        Discussion of chamber music provision with teachers.
Use by the school of its instrumental teachers in orchestral and chamber music teaching – not solely the HoDs.
Discussion of the state and availability of school pianos and other shared instruments.
        
Discussion of the choice of masterclass events and tutors (or their very existence).

        Regular discussions between all the teachers of their instrumental discipline.

        Review of how much appropriate concert provision for students.

        Discussion of physiotherapy provision.
        
How to use the Alexander teachers.
        
Discussion of counseling provision.

        Discussion of stress signs.

        Discussion of SEN (Special Educational Needs).

        Discussion of practice provision each day for the students – that they have some practice time in the days timetable (sic)!
        None of the above happens. All the above list is drawn from examples of it not happening with my and my colleagues students. Nothing is inclusive and collegiate in the teaching management – except when there is a problem when there may be some discussion – which of course is after the event. The instrumental teachers are not in the loop – they are regarded as a nuisance – yet they know the students the best as they usually have two hours alone with them each week.

        There are no points of contact with the academic teachers, except over lunch which is eaten within earshot of the children – and no contact in the staff room which is mostly empty. They don’t know instrumental teachers who have been teaching a decade at the school, nor could they with no effective contact. If the academic staff are having problems with a student we only know by some accident – maybe the student tells us. `If there is any problem with behavior – the same. As for re-audition, the first I knew about it was being told it was going to happen to a student of mine. Corrina is accurate in the picture she paints.

        This is a specialist music school where these things are supposed to be really organized, indeed especially good. They aren’t. They are especially bad. There is no discussion and no collegiate teaching. All the instrumental teachers come in and go out – hoping not to get involved in the nasty atmosphere.”

        I quote all this to illustrate that relationships between private schools and instrumental teachers are not easy, and till the last few years haven’t even been underpinned by a proper contract.

        What suffers from all this is the relationship between parents, schools and the instrumental teachers. This is manifested in the teachers not being included in the school either because they are unpaid to do so, or because the school doesn’t do that sort of thing.
        Coupled with no instrumental meetings, no INSET, no peer to peer review, etc – see post above in this column, this is all part of the recipe which has lead to the current history of problems.
        My professional opinion is that instrumental teachers are very willing to talk about their students to parents. As a group we would not teach if we did not enjoy it, but the record of how the schools manage us is very wanting.
        I think this is very much at the heart of the matter. Employ the core instrumental teachers like the part time academic teachers and then they are paid for their background work. They are paid to fit things in with their other work. As they mostly are unsalaried they are always acutely aware of unpaid work blocking paid work.
        In the discussions about the problems in teaching in the specialist schools I think a start point should always be the relationships between the students, their parents, the instrumental teacher and the school. If this is working well, sexual abuse and cruelty will be mostly avoided. This is a teaching problem at its core, not social services, police or City Councils.
        I would welcome the opinions of other teachers who have taught at these schools to be represented on these blogs, even anonymously. I have risked tarnishing my professional reputation as a teacher by writing about this. It only needs a small nod at an interview that I might be difficult, for me not to get that work. I have always strived to teach with the ethics passed on to me by Amaryllis Flemming and Margaret Moncrief amongst others. I come from a teaching family with relations running music services and having headships of schools. What happens in the state sector in academic employment methods is so far removed from from what happens in the private music schools and it is much better. We need change, and change to systems in place that already work.

        Michal Kaznowski

        • Concerned parent says:

          Thank you Michal for putting the teacher’s view of things. I am sure you are right that there are many teachers who would want closer engagement with parents, management, and other musical and non-musical colleagues at specialist music schools because it could only benefit their students and improve their own teaching. However I also think the fact that it doesn’t happen ends up putting off a lot of the best teachers who value this contact from working for, or continuing to work for, these schools. It’s difficult not to conclude that a system which isolates parents from one another, and instrumental teachers from both parents and each other as well as subjecting them to extremely insecure employment conditions, primarily suits the desire of management for an easy life with maximum power and minimum accountability.

      • Michal Kaznowski says:

        I read in this months Strad magazine that at Wells Cathedral School, ‘pupils had a chaperone for all one-to-one lessons’ Can anyone confirm this is the case and how it operates?

    • Liam Wright says:

      Some of the points on the list Michal mentioned (mostly the early points) are already implemented in some of the smaller or less formal departments at Chethams. I think it’s the string department that let’s us down in this respect though. It’s incredibly badly organised and the one member of staff who actually attempts to keep it under check (who I won’t mention) is leaving after this year. I can hardly comment though, but I do share a dorm with a long-term violin student who is taught by a teacher that comes in once a week. His is often acrimonious about the extremely competitive feeling in the string department and the organisation. I’m sure we could get your list to the student forum at least and to the director of music. (I’d bet my place at Chets if I could help to make it a better school.)

      • Bless you Liam.

        I definitely don’t think that you should feel the weight of responsibility for all this on your shoulders!

        It’s good if the students have a voice and I’m sure you and other students make positive contributions.

        It says something that it is you that is asking the question ‘Is there something I / we can do about this, not to mention being prepared to put yourself on the line (to bet your place) and it is very much to your credit.

        I don’t think anyone here would want you to bet your place. The pupils are the last one’s to blame or to be expected to sort all the problems out.

  12. Concerned parent says:

    With you 200% Michal. Have you tried getting the TES or Guardian Education pages interested in an article laying out your ideas for reform? I think many people would be shocked to read that these perfectly normal and uncontroversial things have not been taking place in specialist music schools – and will ask “Why ever not?”

  13. A number of less than sympathetic and duly appreciative comments have of late been made in these threads about certain aspects of Ian Pace’s stance in the matter, although he has also his staunch defendants in these parts. Given the sheer amount of time and energy that Ian Pace has to date devoted to the issue (preparing and dealing with the petition, answering questions, taking evidence and very much more), it is only fair to say that some of these comments are quite inappropriate.

    For the time being, I would like to confine my remarks to the question of Mrs Moreland’s position, which has been both called into question by some and roundly defended by others; this is an issue on which Ian Pace has made his considered views clear.

    I will begin by stating that I was never a student at Chethams, RNCM, Purcell School, Yehudi Menuhin School, St. Mary’s or any of the other specialist music education establishemnts whose names have been mentioned over the past few weeks in the context that we are addressing; I never experienced, witnessed or heard about any occurrences or allegations of occurrences of any kind of abuse against my fellow students at RAM and RCM although, unlike some of the more complacent contributors to these threads, I do not conclude from such lack of experience that no such things ever occurred. I have never met Mrs Moreland and do not know her.

    The facts as best we can understand them about Mrs Moreland’s rôle are these.

    1. Police enquiries into abuse of students are proceeding as Chethams.
    2. In order for these enquiries to commence, the co-operation of Chethams was requested by and granted to the police; Mrs Moreland, as the school’s head, must have been involved in receiving and granting permission to the police to initiate and carry out their enquiries and in promising her own and the school’s fullest possible co-operation.
    3. Mrs Moreland has been at pains to state publicly and in letters to parents that the police investigations all relate to events that allegedly occurred 20+ years ago.
    4. Much more recently, she has admitted, again publicly and in a letter to parents, that the scope of the police enquiries is actually greater than she had previously indicated by virtue of their covering a longer period of time that extends into the present.

    Whilst Norman has been wise to caution anyone seeking to accuse Mrs Moreland of lying in her handling of the PR of this matter to date – and, let’s face it, the barrister’s apparent persistence in describing Frances Andrade as a liar in Court is arguably an illustration of the potential flaws and risks in so doing, now that we know that the convictions demonstrate the Court’s disbelief that Mrs Andrade was lying – the question must still be asked as to whether or not or to what extent Mrs Moreland may from time to time have been economical with the actualité.

    If she knew from the outset that the police enquiries that she sanctioned – and with which she promised full co-operation – were not limited to allegations of events of more than 20 years’ vintage but claimed (as she did) that they were so limited, she would have been lying.

    If she genuinely did not know that the police investigations would cover alleged events more recent than 20 years ago, why was this? There can be only two possibilities. Either she was incompetent in not recognising that the police enquiries would go up to the present day, in which case one might question her ability properly to fulfil her rôle as head of the school or, if the police had convinced her at the outset that their enquiries would not cover the past 20 years but were nevertheless intent on pursuing enquiries regardless of date, then the police were dishonest in misleading Mrs Moreland.

    Only in the last such case might Mrs Moreland emerge from this scot-free and blameless – and I am not suggesting that this might not be a possibility, because I do not know the facts about this and do not pretend familiarity with them. That said, however, one might have thought that, had the police clarified at the outset that their enquiries would solely concentrate on alleged events of 20 and more years ago, Mrs Moreland might have thought to ask whether they would consider extending them to more recent times in order for the entire matter to stand a better chance of being cleared up fully once and for all, so that, in future, Chethams could hold its head up high and enjoy a blemish-free future.

    Furthermore, I do not accept that Ian Pace has concentrated his agenda disproportionately on Chethams, whether because he was a student there or for any other reason; it is clear from much that he has written on the subject that, whilst Chethams is indeed in the firing line at present, the kinds of alleged abuse of minors at specialist music education establishments is by no means confined to Chethams and he has been at pains to point this out to those who take sufficient care to read what he writes.

    • Thank you for your articulate points and sensible summary Alistair. The only point out of all you have said that I personally would amend slightly is this one:

      “2. In order for these enquiries to commence, the co-operation of Chethams was requested by and granted to the police; Mrs Moreland, as the school’s head, must have been involved in receiving and granting permission to the police to initiate and carry out their enquiries and in promising her own and the school’s fullest possible co-operation.”

      I would just preface this point with ‘According to Mrs Moreland’, simply because we do not know for sure how thoroughly the school has cooperated with the police.

      • Indeed; good point, which I accept.

        • Concerned parent says:

          I was told by the Greater Manchester Police that Chethams was not co-operating fully – in fact being very withholding about basic info such as who was employed when. I also know for a fact that at least one current student made an official complaint to the school a few weeks ago which the school passed on to the police and which the police is investigating. So I have been completely baffled by Mrs M’s public statements to the contrary.

          • Martin Roscoe says:

            This is extrermely disturbing news

          • Concerned parent says:

            Edward Gregson is the former RNCM principal at the centre of the controversy about Malcom Layfield’s appointment which was reignited during the Brewer trial and the publication of extensive correspondence between Martin Roscoe and Gregson. Layfield is under investigation again and has resigned from the RNCM board.
            Gregson however has not (to my knowledge) accepted the slightest responsibility for what is at the very least a baleful error in judgement in insisting on Layfield’s appointment and causing Roscoe’s resignation – the correspondence published by the Guardian paints a shocking picture of institutional arrogance and double-speak.
            Gregson continues to sit on the board of governors at Chetham’s School, which is disturbing because Layfield taught at Chets and plenty there knew about his antics – in fact Francis Andrade wrote a letter to Gregson referring to Layfield’s alleged conduct at the school which he also disregarded.
            Gregson was on the faculty on this year’s prestigious Chetham’s International Piano Summer School – and a number of potential participants I know were shocked by his inclusion. I now see that his name has disappeared, presumably in the last couple of weeks – without any explanation.
            The question arises why Chetham’s thinks it is still appropriate to have Gregson on their board of Governors. If there was a vote among parents and teachers – especially if they read the correspondence with Roscoe – I think many would feel he is the last person who should be “governing” Chets, or advising Mrs Moreland, during the present crisis.

          • Liam Wright says:

            They don’t tell us these things.

          • Like Martin, this concerns me. I would hope that given the amount of public scrutiny, the Board of Governors and Senior Management team would let the police do their job.

            It is easy to attack individual members, however please remember that every member of this team is human. This is why they should be communicating effectively as a board and supporting the head teacher in allowing the authorities every thing they need in order to do their job too.

          • Was it Gregson, who also justified the decision to employ Layfield by way of the fact that it was a few years since he had been known to have sexual contact with pupils and that he had said he was sorry? I’m sure I read something like that in the Guardian article. Correct me if I’m wrong someone. There are parallels between this and dismissing the significance of a current teacher being under investigation on the strength of the allegations in question apparently being ‘historical’, whatever that means.

          • Martin Roscoe says:

            Yes Gwen that was it. Layfield admitted all the six (as samples) examples of his behaviour and claimed to have had counselling to cure his addictive problem. He said there were no more examples after 1993. Although he (to my knowledge) Gregson never saw any reports or assessments about this, he was prepared to accept Layfield’s word that this behaviour would not recur and therefore he was ok to have a position of manegement and pastoral care as Head of Strings at the RNCM. The admitted behaviour involved plying 16-year-old girls with alcohol and driving them out to remote places etc. All detailed in the correspondence.

  14. Ian Pace says:
    • Indeed – yet the irony of what might be read as the school’s almost risible bravado in complaining that the inspectors did not spend long enough making their enquiries at Chethams is not lost on me; had they spent longer and gone into more detail, just how much more might have come to light?

      The only “explaining to be done” now must surely be postponed until after the full-scale independent public inquiry for which you and your admirable petition call (and which, of course, will by no means focus solely on Chethams) has been carried out and reported on and the contents of the report thoroughly considered.

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