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Chetham’s comes up with ‘action plan’ to put its house in order

In the wake of two negative inspection reports and an ongoing police investigation, the trouble Manchester school has put forward a series of reforms that it hopes will satisfy the education authorities. Here’s what parents have been told:

 

chethams-school-of-music

Dear Parents/Guardians Just to let you know that today we have submitted our detailed Action Plan to the Department for Education. The Action Plan came about as a result of the reviews carried out earlier this year by Manchester Children’s Services and the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Whilst the reviews found that our students felt safe and happy, they identified some weaknesses in our safeguarding processes and procedures.The leadership and management of the School have been working to address the points raised, and we are receiving ongoing support and guidance from the Department for Education and Manchester Children’s Services.Many of the changes have already been implemented or are well underway. The main initiatives include:

  • Introduction of a safeguarding sub-committee of the Governing Body tasked with oversight of all safeguarding at Chetham’s
  • Appointment of experts to a safeguarding commission which will oversee and advise on all aspects of safeguarding
  • An annual independent audit of our safeguarding policies and procedures
  • Opportunities for additional parental engagement – a new ‘parents’ extranet forum’ and ‘parent governor’ participation on the Governing Body

Our key objectives are to develop best practice in the sector and to ensure that students have an even stronger voice within the School. The Student Forum will remain an important mechanism for feedback, but we will make sure that students have more opportunities to give us their views, through additional ‘suggestion boxes’ and formal surveys on topics they will be encouraged to bring forward.We expect the Action Plan to be approved by the Department in the coming weeks, at which point we will be able to make a copy available to all parents.We would like to extend our thanks to parents for their comments and support during this process.

Best wishes 

Claire Moreland, Head

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Comments

  1. I meant Good!

  2. John Millner says:

    At last! A subcommittee! Well, we can all relax now. This was announced by the chair of the school committee (Chetham’s equivalent of a governing body) Sandra Burslem at the meeting with parents in April. It will be stuffed with the same people who were in charge of safeguarding before. Their outstanding management resulted in two disastrous inspection reports and the DfE issuing the school with a Notice to Improve. Perhaps someone can explain it to me: how does concentrating bad managers into a subcommittee improve matters?

    With many other Chetham’s parents, I hope the parents’ forum and introduction of parent governors (one? More than one?) are implemented effectively. The parents’ group needs to be parent-run if it is to have credibility in supporting the school. And it should be implemented as quickly as possible. Some of us have set up an email address for a parent-run group: chethamsparentsgroup@gmail.com. Email if you are interested in joining. (We will consider rolling this into the school’s group once it is established.)

    The head, Claire Moreland, argued against the idea of parent governors at the parents’ meeting. It is good to see that she has had a change of heart. It is vital that parent governors are elected by parents rather than appointed by the existing governors. And they need to be a significant presence (often a quarter of governors in state schools) on the school committee. When the detail of these proposals is announced, we will see whether the current management are serious about reform or are just making token changes to reduce the pressure.

  3. The most telling comment is the one about the parent extranet, however I am sceptical, it has the feeling of “Yes – and…”

    Well what about the rest. Some of the points that Martin Roscoe raised most importantly the suitability of some of the Governing Board to serve on this body have not been addressed.

    The best I’ll say is OK in as far as it goes.

  4. A. Oliver says:

    Does anybody realise that these action plans were put in place within a few days of the reports being published? The deadline of 10th May is only a formality, as the DoE was informed that the action plans the reports called for had been put in place weeks ago!

  5. Concerned Parent says:

    John – excellent points.
    As ever the Chets management are playing catch-up.
    Yes, there are some moves in the right direction, but they are too little and too late – and have only been wrung out of the current management and governing body because of a vast amount of negative publicity, increasing parental pressure (where parents have been independently contacting Manchester City Council, ISI, Ofsted, DfE and Greater Manchester Police through sheer frustration at being continually fobbed off by the school when they raise concerns), 2 very negative inspection reports, continuing interest from regulators and a Notice to Improve.
    And still Chets is desperately trying to avoid taking any responsibility for “historic” abuse or current dissatisfaction – how many people have to come forward before they start listening and change the record from “we are wonderful” and now “we are going to be even more wonderful”?
    Sector-leading? In what exactly? So far it has been in how NOT to deal with “historic abuse”, the suicide of an ex-pupil brave enough to blow the whistle, failed inspections, unhappy pupils and very disenchanted parents. Fine words about parent governors and a pupil forum are no substitute for actually listening to parents and pupils and giving them a real say in things now. My child has noticed no change at all at Chets in this regard and as a parent i have just had increasingly false-sounded PR flannel – how long does it take if the will is really there?
    The PR nightmare is getting worse for the school – and given the extent of the police investigations and the numbers of people coming forward, even just on this blog in the last day, with all too familiar stories of pastoral neglect, mismanagement and simple misery in recent years at the school, the crisis is likely to get worse before the management, governors and feoffees (the quaint term for yet another murky board of the great and good who actually ‘own’ the school) realise that a very clean sweep is needed if public confidence in the school – and indeed the sector – is to be restored.

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