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Reports: Music school abolishes Head of Music post

We are informed by several trustworthy sources that the Purcell School has abolished the position of Head of Music. Quentin Poole, who occupied the post, is no longer seen at the school. There has been no formal announcement and the matter cannot be immediately confirmed.

UPDATED: Poole, an experienced musician, acted as an intermediary between the Headmaster and the various heads of department. He had been at loggerheads with the former head, Peter Crook, who departed in the dead-of-night.

The abolition of his job is seen as strengthening the authority of the present Head, David Thomas, bringing all teaching under his direct control. We are told that some students have written to the Governors asking for Mr Poole to remain.

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  1. Northern Cellist says:

    I left Purcell in 2001, therefore well before the Crook incident. I’ve had very little contact with the school or anyone there since. However, I do remember Quentin Poole as an extremely popular teacher. I was most certainly not happy at Purcell for quite a lot of the time I was there, and recall Quentin Poole as being very kind and supportive to me.

  2. Andrew Haveron says:

    It has been twenty years since I was a pupil at the Purcell School and I appreciate that many things have changed in that time. However some have not – Quentin Poole being one of them.
    One of the greatest strengths of the school was that – in contrast to other specialist schools – it was no hothouse factory. Indeed it felt as ordinary a school as was possible to be whilst embracing the fact that every pupil happened to be interested in music. Many of my contemporaries went on to university education and indeed many knew that music was NOT to be their future career choice, and the school had more than adequately provided for them to continue in life without being ‘disadvantaged’ by a specialist education. The rôle of the headmaster (in my day John Bain) was therefore perfectly clear – to run the school pretty much like any other, achieving the highest academic results REQUIRED by any given pupil.
    THEREFORE the rôle of Head of Music was doubly important – to galvanise the ‘music department’ which just happened to include everybody. It still felt like an extra-curricular activity – simply one that happened several times a day instead of once a week.
    During my youth and education there were many people who felt it imperative to warn me of the dangers of attempting a career in music (the “what if you get hit by a bus” brigade) and precious few who took the opportunity to encourage and indeed enthuse about the possibilities ahead. Quentin Poole was one of those who inspired me and gave me strength and optimism – and taught me much in the process. He was – and clearly still is – a very talented, popular, organised and efficient man who managed to tread that difficult line between friend and authority and received nothing but respect in return. I cannot imagine that the current Purcell School is better off without him.

    I do not fully understand your post Norman; the final paragraph bewilders me and the last sentence has made me write this. Could you expand on those thoughts for the benefit of those of us who might get the wrong end of the stick? Especially given most of the ‘music school news’ these days…

    • Andrew, Thanks very much for these important firsthand reflections. I’ve skimped on detail for legal reasons. Mr Poole was quite innocently drawn in when the former head fired another teacher. As such, he was seen by some as a relic of that unfortunate time. My understanding is that the present restructuring is not personal: it is designed to save money and increase the authority of the headmaster.

      • North six says:

        “The restructuring, however, draws a clear line beneath the School’s recent turbulence.”

        In what way, can you expand on your last sentence, please?

      • Ex Purcell Parent says:

        Dear Mr Lebrecht,

        Mr Poole is an outstanding popular professional musician and teacher, who, with the wonderful recently resigned Deputy Head, Mr Elliott, has steered the school through the dark times of sacked Head Mr Crook, you refer to.
        I know both these teachers are hugely respected by the current and former pupils, and have given very long service to the Purcell School. (30 years each, I understand)

        Please do not make the mistake of tarring Mr Quentin with the same brush as that dreadful suspected pedofile the school governors should have sacked the minute his badness was known.

        I understand, Mr Poole’s friend and partner, also a professional musician,who also taught at the school, was sacked for challenging these misguided Governors about Mr Crook, and should be congratulated for getting rid and doing the school a great service, rather than punished for bravely speaking against all the bad of late at this sad school. Maybe this is why Mr Poole has now also been sacked?

        Until it is announced why, we maybe don’t know, but can guess?

    • Julia Wilson says:

      I think one has to be careful reporting articles such as these in the current climate. It is easy to mislead an implication of sexual wrong doing.

    • All the Music School bashing is so exaggerated ! However, some seemed to have quite a fun time in the bushes…

  3. Mr. Poole was one of the best and most popular teachers who truly supported young musicians. For many others, it was just a mechanical process or doing just the allocated job!

    It was funny the way the school newsletter described Mr.Poole’s departure.

    Now they are looking for Deputy Heads – 2 vacancies.

    • As an outside contractor, I recorded all the major external concerts given by the school’s pupils over a number of years, and am stunned to have accidently stumbled across all this. I got to know Quentin Poole very well during that time, and he was always one of the most talented and well liked teachers I have ever come across. My own association with the school was terminated unceremoniously soon after John Bain retired, and I know other members of staff have been treated equally badly at various times since. Very sad….

      • Another ex Purcell parent says:

        My daughter’s time at Purcell spanned both the move to Bushey and the retirement of John Bain. Sadly I feel the school never really recovered from either.

  4. more important issues for the citizenry of the UK to be concerned about.
    its govt’s role in destrying most of north Africa and the Middle east, with its navy and army ready to attack Iran!

  5. Northern Cellist says:

    Dear Christopher

    Thank you for your comment. I agree entirely that it is really important to be aware of current affairs and to analyse government policy critically. Like you, I am concerned about the situation in North Africa, the Middle East and a considerable number of other places around the world including the Pakistan election, situation in the Caucasus and Central America

    Because my interests in current affairs have always been strong, I have devoted my professional life to working in development and human rights. In fact I’m writing this to you while taking a break in writing a lengthy legal argument in relation to an enduring human rights issue relating to a change in UK government policy

    While working on my human rights work, I am very much enjoying listening to a piece of classical music. As I say in my post above, I underwent specialist music education. However, I decided not to make this career. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for music remains strong, which is why I enjoy reading the news on Norman’s excellent blog.

    For me, music is a place I can go to when I am particularly concerned about the state of the world or when I just want to switch off from everything I’m concrned about. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I would suggest that there are many people in the world who are happy to speak with you about current affairs, but they may choose to do so on a different forum. This site is devoted to discussions about music but clearly that does not however mean that people who choose to discuss and enjoy music are ignorant of current affairs.

    Best wishes

    Northern Cellist

  6. Having had 6 years of fabulous education at the Purcell School, I think it would be a huge shame to abolish the Director of Music role, especially as Mr Poole is so good at it!! What is a specialist music school without a Director of music?? Just another school with a decent music department!! The Purcell School has always been quirky and unique and I realise that it has ridden bad times. Surely there are other ways to ‘save money’ though? The school is a bit like marmite and as a student, you’ll either love it or hate it. I loved it and will be forever grateful to Mr Poole’s support and direction. He was always full of vision and had an abundance of creativity at his fingertips. Think again Mr Thomas, please.

  7. A factual correction. There is no ‘drawing a clear line’, as all the senior staff who have been in management roles for a long time will continue to work at the school under a different guise. With inducements to current staff taking on extra responsibilities, the now predominance of mature staff at the end of their careers, and the new posts being advertised, the scheme is unlikely to save any money. It looks odd that Mr Poole is the only casualty, unless a post SMS future is being planned?

    • Ex Purcell Parent says:

      A friend who currently works at the school, tells me not all the senior staff have been found other work in the Headmasters money saving scheme – but it is the highly respected Mr Poole who is the single casualty in this axe wielding plan to save money. (presumably money the school has overspent building new boarding houses and paying off a dismissed Head two years ago?)

      From this action alone, staff and pupils are now drawing the obvious conclusion that Mr Poole is being picked on for supporting his sacked partner, who taught at the school, when he and others spoke out against Mr Crook (the sacked bad previous Headmaster investigated by the authorities for alleged verbal sexual abuse)

      If this is true, it is a wicked destructive move, which will damage the schools musical excellence beyond repair.

      How can a music school function without a Head of Music?

      The Purcell school already has a dubious reputation in covering up the antics of the bad Head, and still not admitting why he disappeared without reason a few years ago.

      If the Governors now foolishly try the same disappearing act with their highly regarded Head of Music, the school will become a joke in the musical and educational worlds, and parents like myself will think twice about sending their child to such a school.

      I hope the governors will seriously reconsider as to what message this cost cutting action (so they say) will do to the reputation of the school at a time when the media is watching every specialist music school very closely.

      For the sake of the school’s musical standards and reputation, they would do well to think of other cost cutting plans to address the school’s overspending issue. without making their Head of Music and his successful work redundant.

      Maybe the new Head and other staff should all take a salary cut to save the music school’s key post, as is the case everywhere else in these cost cutting times in the rest of the country?

  8. Another ex Purcell parent says:

    It’s more than a decade since my daughter left Purcell and I have had no further dealings with it. However, my daughter did have some difficulties there and I can only say that three people really helped her through it all – her instrumental teacher, a member of the academic staff and Quentin Poole. Both she and I always found him approachable and helpful. Moreover, I can say he commanded huge respect both as a person and as a musician.

    And how can a specialist music school possibly function without a Director of Music? It feels as if it is losing its way.

  9. Nicholas Daniel says:

    What madness, is this? A Music School without a Head of Music?

    Surely what is needed at this time of potentially school-closing turbulence is a calm, trusted long-serving member of staff to help sooth what must be the jangled nerves of parents and students.

    This ugly power grab will do nothing but harm unless the ‘appeal court’ including proper musicians can get this thing stopped.

  10. Mostly poorly-paid and wage-frozen staff at the school, I guess, as state controlled wage practices apply and practically preclude top-slicing. One member of staff was paid between 80-90k at the end of Aug 2012, with new appointments since August 2012 will that be topped and by how much? Clear as mud is a falling wage bill 2011-2012 by around 60k, but nothing made of that, nor the reduction 2011-2012 of around 9 equivalent full-time posts (3 teaching, 8 boarding and pastoral offset by 2 additional admin posts) a restructuring of sorts that slipped quietly by! This time for about the same amount of money an important post has to go. Go figure? It’s all in the school’s own published accounts!

    • Past Teacher says:

      Anon 2 makes very illuminating points indeed. Could they elaborate, so that all of us can understand all the implications of the blogpost? The finances of an SMS are not transparent to all.

  11. Current Purcell Parent says:

    As parents my partner and I are feeling pretty helpless in the face of this. Unlike in state schools, Purcell parents appear to have no power whatsoever and fear their children’s place at the school would be in jeopardy were they to speak their minds.

    If the alleged reason for removing the all-important post of Director of Music is financial, then all I can say is that this is astonishingly short-sighted and sounds like the action of somebody who knows very little about the the pupils the school is taking on. Nor do they have much idea of the decision making process of prospective parents. The financial consequences of having a specialist music school without a Director of Music will be pretty spectacular as parents will quickly see Purcell as a school with a ‘good music department’ – not AT ALL what they are seeking for their intensely musically active and obsessed children. We ourselves would not have sent our son if we knew this were going to happen. It seems this all-important issue of excellence of reputation has not been thought through.

    Even people who are nothing to do with the classical music business regard this as a completely insane decision. Those who are in the business, other music educators, and parents, are aghast. Many of the things they say are unprintable.

    Mr Poole is a critically important member of staff – his musical leadership is astoundingly good and he has a great reputation for gently encouraging the very best out of the young musicians in his care. He is completely irreplaceable and, should the school lose him, it will leave a hole that can never be filled. I can only speculate on the reasons for singling him – of all people – out. But many of the reasons cited above seem only too familiar and completely plausible.

    This decision has caused enormous distress at the school when many are taking public exams. It has seriously undermined the headmaster’s authority at a time when – more than anything – Purcell needs good leadership and a steady, sensible hand. Pupils had been encouraged by his positive attitude at first but now feel betrayed. Parents are horrified but we don’t know what to do. Many are saying they would never have sent their children to the school if they had known music would be downgraded in this way. At least one prospective parent has already changed their mind and is not taking up their place. It is a huge mistake for this new head to have made and, if it goes ahead, will be Purcell’s undoing as a specialist music school.

    • Functionally ignorant management and accountants are taking over the world, unfortunately. ‘Management’ per se has become a powerful profession, and the less a manager knows about the job, the better suited they seem deemed to be. A very sad day for music in the UK though.

  12. ExPupil10/12candour says:

    I am an ex Purcell student who boarded and studied there for two years in the 6th form, and I have not heard of anything more ridiculous than making the head of music Mr. Poole redundant. What is a music school without a head of music? Is a question that comes to mind! Especially after the recent successful concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall which would not have been possible without this great musician who inspires the pupils at the school.

    During my time at Purcell Mr. Poole was one of the most helpful members of staff I have ever had. If a pupil had any sort of problem whether it be academic, personal, or musical Mr. Poole was always a reliable member of staff you could see who would always make time for you without question, and do his absolute best to sort it out as well as being extremely professional.

    Mr. Poole is a brilliant musician who has the respect of all the pupils at the school. The music department would not be of the standard that it is today without him! He does all of this work because he loves his job! It is obvious that he loves his job because not many people no matter what the pay, would want to work under the conditions he does and has had to in the past. As a past pupil who has witnessed these incidents first hand I think it is disgusting that members of staff [redacted] feel that it is acceptable in front of students to make it very obvious that they have some kind of problem with Mr. Poole whatever it may be. This can be seen by the disrespectful way they speak and act around him, even in these situations which unfortunately come up rather regularly Mr. Poole will act totally professional and speak to them in the way you would wish a member of staff to speak to you. Maybe the new headmaster should open his eyes (as it is not hard to see) and sort this out as this is totally unprofessional and not a nice environment for pupils to live or study under let alone Mr. Poole having to work under.

    If redundancies have to be made there are other members of staff that should have their position at the school evaluated. [redacted: legal] For example; there was a perfectly serviceable gate to the back entrance, all it needed was to be repainted and maybe a repair. Instead of this it was her decision to spend thousands of pounds (which apparently the school does not have) on a brand new gate which is less safe than the first one as anybody could climb over it if they wanted. However this is not the point, the thousands of pounds spent on the gate could have been spent on food/activities etc. to make life for boarders better. There was a time when less money was being spent per meal on pupils than per meal in a prison.

    paragraph redacted: [legal]

    Another member of staff that comes to mind is [redacted]. I am happy not to have ever had him dictating the boarding house when I was studying there, but I keep in touch with enough current students to know that once again there is a problem with the pastoral care. It seems to me that my friends are now more unhappy than they were when Tom Smith was in charge, who was absolutely useless. Does this head master take this seriously? The answer is no. A group of boys arranged a meeting with the head master and Mr. [redacted] to express their concerns, somehow the headmaster found it acceptable that Mr. [redacted] decided not turn up to the meeting. This is totally unacceptable, how are the boarders supposed to live and work in a happy environment if they cannot ever express their concerns in a proper way. From previous boarding experiences, if a pupil had a problem that needed addressing to both the head master and the head of the boarding house there would be no nonsense or messing about. A meeting would be arranged and the members of staff needed would attend, if one of the members of staff could not make the appointment it would be rescheduled. You would not find a member of staff behaving worse than the pupils. The pupils are in the right here and the head master does not seem to care!

    Once again it seems that the Purcell School has been cursed [redacted]. How can a headmaster that has not even been at the school for more than six months think about making the head of music at a music school redundant especially when he has been working at the school since 1988 and head of music since 2001 and knows the school inside out and back to front . The problem is the governors! How can these governors still be running/ruining the school when they are the reason for the last scandal, Peter Crook. How many warning and complaints did they have? Even after a police inquiry they put their pride ahead of the school and did not get rid of him, and then look what happened all of a sudden he disappeared with no real explanation when things had got into such a state of disrepair. If the governors really valued the school they would resign and appoint new ones to start with a clean slate, the governors that need to resign know who they are. They are the ones that covered up [redacted] and decided not to listen to the pupils, parents and staff who make the Purcell School great.

    Here are two quotations that maybe the governors can take inspiration from:
    “You raze the old to raise the new” – Justina Chen, North of Beautiful
    “Set fire to broken pieces; start anew” – Lauren DeStefano, Sever

  13. Purcell Parent says:

    Oh God here we go again! We had all believed that the new Head would be a healing force who could lead the school forward in an entirely positive way. Instead of that, we now have more controversy – absolutely ridiculous to have a music school without the crucially important post of Director of Music, but also hugely disrespectful to parents, pupils and Quentin Poole, that this information has become public on this site. We have received no official confirmation of this decision and there has certainly not been any consultation.
    We need to be told what is going on and whether music is any longer the main reason for the school’s existence. If music is being downgraded, then perhaps it’s time that we removed our children from the school, as the academic standard is defininitely not good enough to justify remaining otherwise.
    The governors clearly don’t care about the school’s reputation – what an own goal!

    • Another Purcell Parent says:

      It’s a huge shame that this has happened. The new Head made such a positive start and there was a wonderful optimism and spirit in the school. For the first time in a while (all credit to Mr Elliott for holding things together after Mr Crook’s departure), the school seemed able to make the most of its opportunities and had a real sense of purpose.

      In one fell swoop, this decision has plunged the school into uncertainty and the students and parents are most definitely unhappy about it. My child has had the most wonderful time at Purcell and I have never regretted sending her there. As someone said so well further up the comment thread, it is a special place where music is a joy and a focus rather than a hothouse where students burn out. So much of this is due to Quentin Poole and his fair and inspirational leadership.

      It seems bizarre to court publicity (and surely this was never going to be an unremarkable decision) at a time when SMS are under such scrutiny.

      I just wish that this awful situation could be resolved with grace and an admission that maybe this was not the right step.

  14. Purcell Instrumental Teacher says:

    I have taught at this school for over a decade, so feel I know the school well enough to comment on this bonkers issue.

    The Purcell School is in a financial mess due to the appalling mismanagement of funds from the DES, for music and academic tuition and for the salaries of staff?

    The reason for lack of funds resulting in the lame excuse to make staff redundant is due to the [redacted] Bursar [redacted].

    Did dismissed Head Peter Crook or the Governors know this serious gaff when they appointed her?
    Such information is no top secret, as details of these facts are freely available on line.

    Also, what about the Governor, Martin Saunders, ex Mayor of Hertsmere, who headed the sub committee of Governors responsible for finance and planning?

    Have these two perpetrators been held responsible for their bad management and preference for other expensive
    spending instead of vital staff salaries and music teaching, over and above new buildings named after Governors??

    This whole demise of Quentin Poole and the post of Director of Music isn’t financial at all, but a fantastical plan conceived by a musically ambitious [redacted] David Thomas, who now as Head, clearly wants to take over the role of Dof M [redacted].

    Unfortunately,Thomas’s musical experience as a total amateur musician, is not what the Purcell School excellence is about. Mr Thomas may have also taken over the conducting of the choir from the Head of Music at his former school, Reigate Grammar, but he is out of his depth musically at Purcell if he tries those antics here.

    His plan to dismiss the long standing Director of Music,has already lost him the confidence and respect of the pupils and staff here, and this will never be gained if this absurd attempt to get rid of our highly esteemed musical leader and colleague is also allowed by Governors to happen.

    We, along with the rest of the musical educational world, watch the outcome of the forthcoming appeal by Mr Poole to the Governors to overturn Mr Thomas’s personal attempt to sack Mr Poole with bated breath…….

    • This post has been heavily redacted for legal reasons. Please take care to avoid defamation in future posts.

      • Purcell Instrumental Teacher says:

        my apologies Norman, but such is our anger and shock of it all.
        Please help us get the school back on track and Governors made to accept responsibility for their damaging errors of judgement and Governance.

        • Cna someone tell me when the Governors will be hearing the appeal? Would a member of staff like to post a letter to the Governors on Slipped Disc?

          • Current Purcell Parent says:

            I understand the appeal is w/c 3 June, Norman. The students, especially the more senior ones being in the midst of GCSE, AS & A levels, are feeling helpless in the face of this. So are the parents.

            If people are willing to post on here rather than be fearful of the Governors / Head by writing directly then I feel sure that it will be seen.

          • Purcell instrumentalist teacher says:

            Dear Norman,

            No one is told anything here about such privy matters, but we will try to find out as you request.

            If the current outdated Staff Handbook is anything to go by, the appeal will be heard by a panel of three Governors nominated by the Chairman. (now Sir Roger Jackling, ex MOD) with not less than 10 working days notice as to the date of the appeal. They may indeed have already held the appeal – we, who teach at the school, are the last (if ever) to know – we are not considered important enough!

            As the appeal presumably will be directly with Poole who has been told not to be in contact with any staff at the moment, we have no direct way of finding out when this is/was.

            Communication on everything here is disgraceful, and always has been.
            Staff and parents are the last to be consulted about anything crucial, and this hasn’t changed as promised under the new headmaster of some six months in the post.

            All we know in a bulletin, that Poole is off work ill, and was therefore unable to conduct a recent annual Choral Concert he organised at St Alban’s Cathedral last month.

            Since he has been unwell since mid March, rumours are inevitably rife, and even with some, because they haven’t been told otherwise, drawing their own conclusions and sadly even think Poole has a terminal illness…….!

            The distress and upset here, pre exams is dreadful and has foolishly not been considered or cared about by Head and Governors as per.

            It is only because the Headmaster has said nothing positive about the absence of Poole, and has advertised, interviewed and appointed other music staff in his absence, with specific reference in the job specs (including some of Poole’s current responsibilities), that we have assumed he is one of the casualties of the threatened redundancies, and his work will be redistributed to others in the music department?

            What an unbelievably badly run school, lacking total disrespect for it’s staff, pupils and parents!

          • Lorrie Hart says:

            The governors and heads are bound by employment law which forbids them from discussing in public the personal circumstances of any employee. This law is intended to protect the privacy of employees. It also has the effect of preventing employers from correcting inaccurate, unbalanced or unfair comment. The enforced silence is not bad management, poor communication, or disregard for the opinions of others – it is the law.

          • Purcell parent says:

            But there wasn’t silence…the school were told Mr Poole is ‘ill’. This is – at VERY best – only part of the truth. Therein lies the bad management and also the very poor example being set to pupils about what truth actually means.

  15. Current Purcell Parent says:

    To maintain the integrity and value of this comment thread, please can commenters be reasonable and non-defamatory in the way they express themselves – yes, even in the face of what I think we all know is a deeply unreasonable and distressing situation for everyone who actually cares about the future of Purcell.

    • I was predominantly involved with the school, as an outside contractor, during the last ten years in Harrow and first couple at Bushey. The institutional rot that, seems to be strangling the school now, began to be evident soon after the move, and, somehow, things were never quite the same again. Even as an outsider, I became aware of inter-staff bullying, which seemed to have much to do with empire building amongst the support team, some of whom had highly overinflated opinions of themselves!. I don’t know whether any of these are still there, as my services became surplus to requirements soon afterwards!

  16. Norman, in all decency can you please append a rider to your emotive statement “He was closely involved in the events that resulted in the dark-of-night departure of the previous head, Peter Crook.”

    To any reader who doesn’t know the backstory, your text (“closely involved in the events”) makes Poole sound for all the world like a fellow traveller in Peter Crook’s activities. Not everybody reads the comments. I almost didn’t. Because of the association your sentence makes, I would have gone away with the distinct impression that Poole was “just another one”.

    You really do have to fix this. Now. And put it up front in the lead story where the casual reader (e.g. me) can immediately see it. It’s not fair to destroy a man’s reputation by (intended or otherwise) innuendo. Just a clarifying line in brackets following the dark-of-night one will do. It’s irresponsible journalism otherwise.

    I don’t know anyone connected with Purcell School and have no horse in this race. But this sort of thing is really scary. So fix it. Please. That poor man has enough problems without his good name being muddied online by association and inference.

  17. An ex-parent says:

    This seems an extra-ordinarily stupid move on the part of the school. I do hope Mr Poole will find the energy to fully defend himself and the post of Director of Music. I also hope that in the end, Mr Poole will go on to infinitely better things. My offspring are often asked about life at The Purcell School. Although there were positive aspects and some good staff, they can never honestly give the school a proper endorsement to those who ask.

  18. Astounded Instrumentalist says:

    Firstly I agree, for the sake of Mr Poole’s reputation, with what Kevin has said about not muddying his name. It’s hard for somebody to lose their job, without being slyly muddied as well.

    The replies are very interesting. Especially that people seem to think that having done a job for 30 years means that you’re better at doing it than anybody else. I have seen many instances of that not being the case – amongst musicians, amongst teachers, amongst doctors, and indeed, in conservatoires…people become complacent in their jobs … and perhaps their priorities waver.

    All these parents and staff and students who are so outraged – they have a very glowing impression of the person we’re talking about. But, there are two sides to every person, and I don’t think that Mr Thomas – who also has a bit of experience to helping shaky schools recover – would make such a decision lightly. During the era of Mr Crook, and after, there was so much vicious in-fighting and general unprofessional bad behaviour going on throughout the school staff, that starting again from scratch seems the only way forward. The face that school staff present to the public can be a very different one to the face that they present to their colleagues. I do not place much credence in the rather impassioned responses from some parents and current/former pupils to the departure of Mr Poole. Their experiences are entirely personal, and do not reflect the universal situation. The debate on this board shows that parents, teachers, and pupils will still be working themselves into a frenzy, encouraging poor behaviour and unprofessional conduct.

    This is what we call the ‘real world’ – people are made redundant who should not be made redundant – but making a hue and a cry really doesn’t do any good. Rather like the revolting anonymous letter-writing campaign that went on after 2008. How can any authority, publication, or individual take seriously letters of such illiteracy and vitriol from members of a school’s staff room? And then they complained of a Masonic cover-up between the police and the board of governors! Laughable!

    What amazes me is this: if so many parents were and continue to be so disgusted by events at the Purcell School, why don’t they take their children away from the place? If the rumours about Mr Crook – and poisonous rumours they were – are true, why would anybody let their child stay enrolled at the institution, let alone stay as a boarder! Parents want the prestige … and apparently are quite happy to leave their talented off-spring in a den of iniquity for the sake of their future. Indeed, one parent accosted me in Watford High Street while I was working at the school, and poured forth all her woes. She mentioned meetings that I attended, and quoted from the discussion: apparently her child had given her the information. How would her child have got the information? From a member of staff. A very unprofessional member of staff. Frequently pupils mentioned things to me that they could have only heard from members of staff, and which they should not have been told – not because of a culture of secrecy, but because children are children, and should be protected from unprofessional staff who waste time generating the rumour mill, just as they should be protected from bullies amongst their peers, and other abusers.

    Is the fact that there are no negative comments about Mr Poole evidence that he is universally loved and admired, or perhaps evidence that there are some non-fans who do not want to stick their neck out.

    I do not want to say anything defamatory about any member of staff, but there are still many problems in the Purcell School which will not be solved while many ineffective, unprofessional, and unsuitable staff work there, and while parents and pupils also refuse to change their attitudes, and realise that there is far more to the problems of the Purcell School than meets the eye.

    We have seen from some of the other threads – such as those about the late Mr Gendron – opinions vary on every case, and it is much harder for the people who have not had a good experience – of a particular teacher or member of staff – than it is for people who have. I urge everybody here to think of that, before they wind up their hysteria to another level.

  19. Concerned pupil says:

    I cannot stress enough how difficult it has been to take life changing public exams with all this going on. We as pupils have received NO information about this but all we can tell is that something very sinister is going on. At the recent St Alban’s Abbey concert Mr Poole was scarcely mentioned by the headmaster and it was a pupil who had taken over Mr Poole’s role as head of chamber choir who stood up and dedicated the piece to Mr Poole. This received a lengthly round of applause.

    With the arrival of the new headmaster came a great deal of hope and he was the talk of the school for mang weeks. We truly thought Purcell was going to be a better place. This only makes the current situation more devastating for students such as myself who genuinely adore the school and have spread the word among prospective students that nothing like the Mr Crook situation would happen again. I for one have used Mr Poole as an example to prospective parents and pupils as to why Purcell is a great place to learn, and I know a pupil coming to the school next year who felt particularly inspired by Mr Poole. I don’t want to have to explain to these people that we no longer have a director of music, least of all the man who inspired many people to study here.

    The strict rules put in place by Mr Crook, particularly regarding going out of school during our free time, have only been strengthened. Our local newsagents is out of bounds due to crime in the area but we are allowed to walk the half hour journey into Watford, a place with equal or higher crime rates, if we simply want a coke or a packet of crisps in the evening. The recent stepping down of two important senior members of staff is also worrying for the students, and I am aware of a great deal of discontent in the boys boarding house regarding their pastoral care, that has not been dealt with suitably despite complaints.

    I write this with a great deal of sadness and a sense of deep betrayal. This school has been my childhood and the making of me as an adult, and it grieves me to see the man who inspired and taught me being forced out by this ridiculous system. Mr Crook’s legacy certainly lives on.

    • Parent/Musician/Teacher says:

      Students need to stop wasting time and energy thinking about this. In years to come no one is going to be vaguely interested when you tell them that your poor a level results are to do with attending a school at a “turbulent” time. Get off these blogs and focus on studying.

      • Current Purcell Parent says:

        Conscientious and aware students DO need to spend time on this – learning about justice and acting ethically is all part of an education. At the moment, it seems an inspirational and critically important member of staff appears to be completely unvalued by the headmaster. They have a human right to comment in this way, and also mention in one short sentence (that doesn’t refer at all to outcome excuses) that studying in this horrible situation is difficult and distressing. Something that Mr Thomas didn’t seem to think through when he took this action. After all, if music is no longer going to be important at the school, Purcell is going to need some pretty good results, isn’t it?

        Purcell students, please don’t be put off from commenting by this extraordinarily old fashioned authoritarian attitude of ‘get off these blogs and focus on studying’. You have a fundamental human right to do so. Of course you need to study, but twenty minutes spent defending what you feel is right is twenty minutes well spent.

      • Concerned Pupil says:

        I have absolutely no intention of using the recent period of turbulence as an excuse if I do not get my expected AS levels. If I do not succeed I will take full responsibility for that. Taking a few minutes out of my day to read and comment on a topic that does concern me will not stop me from studying, and as someone who hopes to become involved in political campaign work later in life I would consider this a valuable experience that I should make the most of. We as students have the right to freedom of speech and it seems that people such as you do not realise this. Kindly allow Purcell students the right to do what they believe is right.

        Bad things happen when good men do nothing. We have the right to speak up, so I urge you not to dismiss us so quickly.

        • Parent/Musician/Teacher says:

          Fair points, however, distractions from study were numerous enough at Purcell without the Internet. 20 mins here, 20 mins on FB etc. It will not just be the time spent reading it all but the time spent thinking about it all too. All that you say is obviously important and true but at this time of year public exams are more important than any of this. Blogs and social media can be huge timewasters…… Disagree all you like but I know I am right. Focus on the exams.

  20. Purcell instrumentalist teacher says:

    If you have ever worked at The Purcell School ‘Astounded Instrumentalist’, you know exactly what has been happening during the last 4 years at the Purcell School, and why the current demise of the post Director of Music is now a possible casualty.

    Why was there a ‘revolting anonymous letter writing campaign after 2008′ specifically?

    Why do you consider it ‘revolting’?

    What relevance has it to do with this line of redundancy of the key post at a music school?

    How are you party to this information, which has never been known in the staff room, and where you seem to suggest illiterate and vitriol by staff to be the blame for the hysteria currently surrounding the recent news of the demise of the post of Director of Music and dismissed former Head?

    How do you know current Headmaster David Thomas,’ has the experience of helping shaky schools recover’?
    Has he told you so himself, or did you know or work with him before his appointment at Purcell?

    How can someone of such ‘experience’ you credit him with, still try to make the Director of Music redundant, with total disrespect both for the post and the man and ignoring the wider implications the loss of the post will create?

    Who were ‘they’ who complained of a masonic cover up between the police and governors?

    Why is this ‘laughable’?

    Surely only a school Governor him/herself or someone close to management would be party to this highly confidential information?

    Who are you ‘Astounded Instrumentalist’, posting such confidential matters so indiscreetly and yet with authority on this site, yet having the audacity to berate others of doing exactly the same?

    What are your motives?

    Why do you think it may be necessary in a culture of management bullying to have to remain anonymous?

    You are clearly not one of the 70 of us Instrumental teachers who are highly critical of this dreadful destructive plan and give Quentin Poole our full support as a unique and irreplaceable Director of Music, who over and above the Headmaster IS The Purcell School ambassador and musical figurehead.

  21. North six says:

    Can I echo all that “Purcell instrumentalist teacher” says. Having taught at the school for over 15 years myself I can confirm the lack of communication from the Governors has always been appalling. Quentin Poole is an inspirational DoM, respected and admired by all in the music department and to even consider making his post redundant shows a lack of genuine understanding for what makes the school tick. Total lunacy.

  22. Prospective parent says:

    My daughter is coming to the school in September and I must say I am seriously reconsidering. One of the attractions of Purcell was Quentin Poole, a true inspiration. I understand that staff change at any school but to be actually getting rid of the position seems completely absurd to me and my daughter. The whole way it has been done seems underhand and a complete lack of communication, This has really affected whether we have made the right decision and we are looking at our options for withdrawing at this stage. I hope the governors read these comments as I can’t imagine we are the only parents reavaluating our options.

  23. Current Purcell Parent says:

    So, it seems we have:

    - a specialist music school in the utterly extraordinary situation of being without a Director of Music, a much loved member of staff who left suddenly under extremely odd circumstances and now appears to be subject to some sort of gagging order (?) as he seems unable to comment in any way

    - an initially promising new headmaster who spent two terms being utterly charming to every pupil (and now doesn’t even say hello to them in the corridors) who has made no comment whatsoever about the departure of Mr Poole other than an initial brief statement that he was ‘ill’. A headmaster who has clearly utterly misjudged the seriousness of his actions and completely lost the support of pupils overnight, as well as the respect of many parents and the musical education community

    - a board of governors who seem to be inordinately powerful, operate in private, under laws entirely unto themselves – as far as I’m aware with no parent governors. These men (yes, I think for some reason they are all men) seem to have no musical interests of any note and are a complete mystery to most – if not all – parents

    - rumours of extremely poor financial management by the governors and school, including the apparent paying off of a suddenly-disappeared previous head to the tune of £200,000 and the building of completely unnecessary boarding houses named after governors

    - the only victim of financial cuts being *the* most-loved and most-respected member of staff, the Director of Music, whose appeal will not be heard in public (?) and apparently with no witnesses other than governors (?) Is this even LEGAL? if it is legal, why is this procedure allowed and why is there no transparency?

    - parents who are angry, shocked and seriously wanting a very significant number of answers – and wanting them fast

    - an insane timing of insane events which has left a large body of distressed and angry pupils in the middle of public exams who – by their own admission – say that this horrible atmosphere has seriously disrupted their ability to study

    - a very large body of instrumental teachers and educators who are angry, incredulous and shocked at the removal of the post of Director of Music and in particular the departure of Mr Poole

    - an incredibly unfortunate timing of the sudden departure of Mr Poole which coincides with a very troubled time for specialist music schools. There is no way Mr Thomas could have predicted this, but it does place great urgency on ensuring Mr Poole’s proposed departure is handled with due transparency in order to protect his excellent reputation and standing at the school as well as in the wider classical music community

    If this were a state school, it would be on emergency measures. If this were a state school, the board of governors would have been under steely scrutiny for many years. But it is not a state school, despite receiving massive taxpayer support.

    Can David Thomas find in himself the grace and courage to admit this terrible mistake, and to move the school forward with dignity, opening a new era of transparency and trust? Can he be a truly decent role model for the pupils, admit to this severe error of judgement, show humility and a high level of integrity in the way this is resolved? It takes massive guts to do that but, if he doesn’t, I suspect his days are numbered.

    • Current Purcell Parent says:

      *I’ve now checked about appeal processes and I understand that, although it is not permitted to be public, there is usually at least a union rep present

    • Lorrie Hart says:

      Please check the facts. The school did not pay £200,000 to anyone – the audited accounts are a public record. And the governors are not all men – the list is on the school website.

  24. Current Parent X says:

    I am a very concerned parent to a pupil at the school. And I am appalled by how the school was run by the current headmaster from the beginning. I have extensive experience with people like this and I would be happy to help sort out the situation if necessary. Unfortunately there is very little I could do at the time and even now but I have made my mind up and I am going to write to every institution interested enough to read / listen in UK including the Queen and the Royal family. At the end of the day HRH The Prince of Wales is a royal patron and nobody wants ones name associated with failure. I encourage you all that have a real concern about the future of the school and our children to do the same. Express your concerns in writing to everybody you could possibly think of can be interested in what you have to say. The universe has a mysterious way of sorting things out with a bit of a gentle push. So keep the faith and start writing letters!!!!!

  25. Purcell Parent says:

    David Thomas completely underestimated the effect of his action; his previous job as head of Reigate Grammar in no way prepared him for the headship of an internationally renowned music school, many of whose pupils go on to careers in the music profession. In order to maintain its validity within the music community, Purcell needs to have a well respected, professional musician in the post of Director of Music. Such a person should oversee and direct the musical direction of the school, mentor the children and establish/maintain relationships with other musicians and within the wider musical community. It is absolute folly to abolish this post and it has clearly not been properly thought through. There seeme to be no appreciation of the implications of this decision in either the short or long term, and most galling of all, parents and children are being treated as if their views do not matter.
    It is difficult to see how Quentin Poole could return and work with David Thomas after such a public and humiliating spectacle, but that does not negate the need for a strong and effective professional musician as Music Director – not an amateur.
    No Headmaster can last long without the trust and cooperation of the staff and pupils; it would appear that this has now been lost. It probably is time for parents to start writing to the DfE with their concerns about the running of the school and events of the recent past. It would also be nice (but unlikely), for the school to issue a statement to parents which gives a full and transparent account of what is going on. We also need to know about the future direction of the school as all of this does make me wonder whether music as the prime focus and function, is rapidly on the way out.

  26. Hilary Shearing says:

    I’m commenting here as someone who has close friends with a daughter who studies at Purcell. I have spent at least thirty years working in the arts and am passionate about music both as a practitioner and an audience member. The events at Purcell concern me for different reasons. The governors and the Headmaster appear to have dug themselves into a hole. Presumably the governors are unwilling to go against the decision (s) of the recently appointed Headmaster. If they did, his position would become untenable. This raises the issue of why the governors have chosen to support the headteacher, how has such little experience of running an internationally renowned establishment like Purcell, rather than their highly accomplished and respected Head of Music, who has played such a part in establishing the reputation of Purcell? Is there fear that he is too close to both the parents and students and therefore undermines the effectiveness of the Head Teacher? Is the Head one wonders trying to convert Purcell to a style of school he is more familiar with and are the governors willing to go with him to transform Purcell into a different type of educational establishment with ‘a good music department’? Should the word ‘lucrative’ be mentioned here? Something isn’t right. The judgement of both the Headteacher and governors could justifiably be questioned at this stage. They appear to have inflicted considerable damage inside and outside Purcell.

  27. Adam Dalgliesh says:

    What a lot of noise! Every time anyone posts a comment that questions the ‘Crook and Thomas bad; Poole and MacMillan good’ line, they get shouted down. Yet the evidence of this blog casts significant doubt over many frequently repeated assertions. For instance:

    Assertion 1 – Quentin Poole is revered, respected and loved by all. Many anonymous posts from instrumental teachers say this. But look at the only post from an instrumental teacher using his own name and what do we see? Michal Kaznowski talks of instrumental teachers not being listened to, of put downs in meetings etc. etc. He states in terms his unhappiness with Mr Poole’s leadership.

    Assertion 2 – Mr Poole’s presence is needed for the school to be taken seriously as a music school. But what do we see elsewhere on Slipped Disc? A hugely ambitious 24 hour opera is a big success. A high profile choral concert is a big success with a student standing in for Mr Poole. By absenting himself from the school, Mr Poole is making Mr Thomas’s point for him. The Purcell School seems to be able to do just fine without a Director of Music. Take a look at their website to see a wealth of ambitious musical activities happening over the rest of term. The only concert that seems to have been cancelled is one in Liston.

    And in all this noise, where is Quentin Poole? He’s the Macavity of this blog. All these posts from people who mysteriously know all about confidential matters. Who told them? Who was privy to all this, bound by collective responsibility to the management of the school and broke that duty? An apparently saintly man. Readers of this blog need to know that Mr Poole has not only argued with Mr Crook and Mr Thomas. His relationship with the last head but one, John Tolputt, soured. To fall out with one head is a misfortune…but three???

    • The rot started in Tolputt’s time, so maybe there’s your answer!

    • Current Purcell Parent says:

      (For anyone not aware, Adam Dalgliesh is a also fictional character, the protagonist of fourteen mystery novels by P. D. James).

      I can see that you’re probably not closely connected with the school, or familiar with how specialist music schools run, otherwise you would realise some of your comments simply make no sense.

      1. I’m struggling to find this post by Michal Kaznowski? However, I am quite sure that we can find some people who didn’t see entirely eye to eye with Mr Poole – this is entirely normal in ANY management situation. However, I think it is worth reflecting on the huge body of rationally expressed, positive opinion on here. This forum offers people ample opportunity to express their agreement with the abolition of the post of Director of Music from a renowned Specialist Music School – anonymously, if they so wish. So far I have yet to see any reasoned, well presented argument in favour of this.

      2. The 24 hour opera was entirely run by students with the support of the composition teacher. The choral concert at St Alban’s had been thoroughly prepared by Mr Poole but he was unable to conduct it at the last minute for obvious reasons. The majority of the concert was conducted by another member of staff and the verdict from the senior choir was ‘we got by, but it was a bit sh*t’ and that the conducting was ‘really hard to follow’. There were considerably more specific musical comments from pupils but I’m not able to remember them, not being a musician myself. The other pupil who took over simply took over the small chamber choir -not the school choir – he is a very experienced choral pupil and did extremely well under difficult circumstances.

      3. Purcell concerts are arranged many terms in advance and are extremely unlikely to be immediately affected by Mr Poole not being there right now. Do you seriously think the Director of Music personally arranges and runs ::all:: these?! Concerts are a huge part of Purcell life and are run by many different members of staff depending upon the specialism. Many are virtually run by the pupils themselves, accompanied by a member of concerts department (who is in charge of logistics) and an accompanist. It is part of the wonderful training given at Purcell.

      And your final point. You do the parents, staff, pupils and the musical world in general a very great disservice by stating that ‘an apparently saintly man’ has told people of all these ‘confidential matters’. Do you honestly think we are all that stupid? We represent an enormous body of very experienced and – dare I say it – wise – people who have witnessed, watched, listened and read many, many things over the months and years – things that are not remotely difficult to piece together. Sometimes it is the absence of things being said that can be the most telling. I have often wondered if the last and current headmaster, as well as the elusive governors, have thought we are too dense to follow what is happening. It really isn’t rocket science. Maybe they feel such important matters in the school shouldn’t be transparent?

    • music teacher says:

      You are out of order Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh with your assertions and inaccuracies.

      You are obviously so connected with the school seeing you can easily make reference to the last 3 Heads, so why don’t you reveal your true indentity seeing you have nothing better to do that to slur Quentin Pool’s name and reputation.

      Your comments hint at being privy to confidential information and could maybe be a Governor with a false name?
      Whoever you are, you are being totally unprofessional and damaging to the extemplary reputation of the best Director of Music the Purcell school has, and ever will have, and no thanks to you for attempting to be the only outspoken criticabout him on this Journal. Shame on you, when you ought to know better!

      Don’t try to be clever and rubbish why contributors on here don’t use their real names. You, Adam, are a fine one to talk!! Just stop and think how the Purcell School has nurtured a culture of management bullying over the last few years, and realise that it is inevitable that contributors are scared about being identified and punished as a result.

      Look at the real reason WHY Quentin Poole has been singled out for redundancy.

      Also, no-one really knows ( and why should you) the personal reason why Mr Poole is off work, and has been since the notice of Redundancy was served, crassly, the very day AFTER he had conducted a faultless concert of complex music at The QEHall, with the respect and blessing from all the pupils on the platform, and The Master of The Queens Music, Sir Peter Max Davies in the audience, Quentin and brilliant Head of Composition, Alison Cox introduced to the school.

      How would you feel receiving your notice of intended redundancy, after being dedicated to the school and it’s music for over 25 years the day after training an orchestra to play at their best in a major international concert hall on behalf of, and for the school’s musical reputation, standing and excellence?

      A quarter of a century professional commitment to raising the profile and reputation of its music should not be rewarded with a redundancy notice simply to save money?? (if that is the real reason for redundancy?)

      Work out for yourself why Mr Poole has been off work for over two months at this turbulant time, and show some respect for the man like everyone else.

      Yes, the music at the school continues , because it was carefully and logically planned by it’s Director of Music before he became ill over this shocking disrespectful blow.

      Look at some of the chaos during his absence.
      I was at the recent choral concert, which was musically good. (Mr P had been preparing the choir since the start of term, so it should have been) but the shambolic logistics (late start, overlong interval, chaos with choir seating, dreary speeches, staff helpers wandering around with interval glasses of wine , not having a clue how to get the choir organsised, and the grand finale of that unfortunate pupil pretending she was in a karyoki bar with her tuneless attempt at Amazing Grace rendered the whole event very embarrassing.

      Read and absorb what overwhelming positive comments by professional musicians, teachers, former and current pupils and parents are freely saying on this admirable free speech journal, and ask yourself WHY YOU are the only sour one on here?

      Read Peter White’s commendation below if you need further proof that you are completely on the wrong (and only) track.

      Perhaps a little less fictional pretending to be the Police Inspector created by the wonderful PD James, and a lot more respect and accuracy in your postings need to be the case if you are intending to comment on this very serious issue for the future of the musical reputation of the Purcell School you seem intent to try to destroy.

    • Former pupil 2009-2012 says:

      To you, Adam Dalgleish I say ‘What a lot of noise.’
      I have noticed your comments on both Articles concerning Mr.Poole’s redundancy, and they quite frankly bear no weight whatsoever. Mr.Poole is a highly respected and wonderful man who has gained the respect of everyone at the Purcell school and I find it appalling that you could try and trample such a good man’s name to the ground when you clearly have no real idea of what you are talking about, otherwise your comments would bare more evidence. Mr.Poole is one of the few members of staff at the Purcell school who cares about the students. Both he and Mr.Elliot took control after the Mr.Crook incident, boosting the morale of the school, and keeping up musical standards. We delivered a wonderful 50th Anniversary concert that year, which could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of our Head of Music. How exactly I wonder does Mr.Thomas expect to keep up musical standards and juggle the departments single handedly? Let alone manage to book important concert venues, which quite frankly, will shy away from the Purcell school without a solid Head of music, especially the likes of the well respected Mr.Poole, who is an incredible musician in his own right.

      I have only recently left the school and started at music college and I was happy to hear at the beginning of the year from my friends that remain in the school that Mr.Thomas was seen to be doing a wonderful job, and being kind and encouraging to the students. However, recently when I have asked them how school is, or how the new head is, the replies are now sorely changed. Pupils are unhappy, and feel ignored, helpless and distressed, in what is a generally stressful time for all student’s, especially the older ones. To people who commented implying that a bad atmosphere at the school is just as excuse to get bad results, I can tell you, its not! There is nothing worse than trying to revise in a school that has a generally unhappy environment, there have been times when everyone, including the staff have been obviously unhappy. But through all this Mr.Poole has been fantastic! I cant think of a more caring man who would help any student with an issue, and you knew you would be listened to! Quite frankly, pastoral care is lacking at the Purcell school, and it was nice to know you could talk to someone and that what you said would be kept confidential.

      Earlier comments mentioned that student’s know to much, that it is unprofessional of staff members to let pupils know what is going on. In mine and many of my peers views, it is these wonderful members of staff who have actually helped us understand what has been going on rather than being kept in the dark. Do we not have a right to know the circumstances of why our ex headmaster left? The governors certainly seem to think that neither the pupils, or their parents deserve to know, which is quite frankly, unacceptable.

      I think it is terribly sad that Mr.Poole has been made redundant when he is one of the only reasons people suggest the school in the first place. Had it not been for Mr.Poole’s lasting impression I wouldn’t have joined the Purcell school, and I would have missed out on what really was a fantastic 4 years musically, despite the issues with Mr.Crook. I’m sorry to say that now, without Mr.Poole I would never suggest the school to anyone, nor would many former pupils and parents,which is crying shame.
      Without a Director of Music Post the Purcell school will be run down, and become merely a terribly average private school with a good music department. Hats off to you Mr.Thomas and the Board of Governors, I am intrigued to see how you will get yourself out of this mess!

      • Adam Dalgliesh says:

        Are you sure about this? ‘These wonderful members of staff’, thirty years your senior and in a position of authority let you in on confidential matters, establishing a bond of secrecy? There’s a name for that. Are you trying to support these teachers or bring them to the attention of Social Services?

        • Current Purcell Parent says:

          Social Services?! Really, ‘Adam Dalgleish’ your posts seem to me increasingly lightweight and childish. I’m sure we would all be very interested to hear some intelligent, respectful and well-thought out arguments from you.

          Whilst you’re constructing those, perhaps you could include some insights for the rest of us as to why you think that pupils and parents ::shouldn’t::be informed as to why key members of staff suddenly disappear from the school. We are still waiting an explanation of why Mr Crook left and now – in an unrelated incident – why probably ::the:: most critical member of staff in the entire school, much loved and respected for his work by so very many people has had his post abolished.

          Let us remember that some Purcell parents actually lived in times and countries where ‘disappearances’ were commonplace and secrecy was the norm. Let us hope that the management at Purcell can move forward in the way it communicates with staff, parents and pupils. Working with pupils and staff who have a highly creative temperament requires special skill – an authoritarian approach is old-fashioned and completely counter-productive. Mr Poole has this special skill and it deserves to be lauded rather than dismissed.

          Like many Purcell parents I keep good discipline but I still manage to allow all my children to learn compassion, creativity, perspective and the huge importance of being themselves and standing up for what is right. Many of the grown-ups at the school are choosing to teach and care for pupils with empathy and wisdom. Some are very clearly not. Some are choosing to treat other members of staff and parents well, some are not.

          Education is a lot more than just results, it is about life and how to live it. Which role models do we want for out children? It is time for everyone to decide, in all conscience, what is the enlightened and intelligent thing to do. Not the thing that protects one’s power, or denies the fundamental rights of others, but the right, honourable and wise thing.

    • .
      What Head of Department doesn’t occasionally have very good reason to have disagreements with Headmasters?

      It’s all part of the job, although having never reached the top and pretending to be a fictitious character by PD James and JK Rowling instead, you probably wouldn’t know.

      You seem very informed Mr Dalgleish – and clearly have too much free time on your hands to be trying to fathom out who are the personnel on here.

      What is your reason for this we wonder?

      And of course, being renowned for ‘brown nosing’ every head of the school, past, present and future, you would also know the last three heads intimately, and be party to everything private and confidential they told you?

      You do yourself no favours disclosing them on here so blatantly.

      Personal jealousy is a very dangerous thing, and shouldn’t be exposed on this professional site when far more serious issues are at stake.

      Perhaps you should consider yourself fortunate in having a job, and go and do some more work on your ‘doctorate’ instead of being so poisonous and misleading on here?

  28. Dear Mr Lebrecht,

    Although I have stood on the sides observing with amazement and alarm the ‘goings-on’ at the Purcell School, I am not in a position to comment on them directly. However, I do hope Quentin is able to get some comfort from reading the overwhelmingly supportive comments posted on this site.

    I have known Quentin for well over forty years, we were at school together and have been firm friends ever since. He was my best man and has since been a wonderful godfather to my now grown up son.

    From this standpoint I can only say that all the comments regarding Quentin’s professionalism, kindness, thoughtfulness and care are all that I would expect of this truly remarkable musician and teacher. I find it utterly incomprehensible and astonishing that the Purcell School, for whatever reason, should find itself in a position where they feel they can dispense with his services, and in such a perfunctory and unpleasant way.

    I am Director of Music at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford and have been for even longer than Quentin has been at the Purcell School. I have been lucky to have wonderfully supportive management throughout my time and I believe the music has flourished in this environment. I can only imagine how desperate it must be to face a situation in which trust has utterly collapsed and even worse, the credibility of the school and its management is being questioned by both parents and the wider public.

    At a time when it faces just these kind of crises, how foolish of the governors of the Purcell School to ‘make redundant’ one of their finest assets. They are not only losing a fine Director of Music, they are completely and utterly losing their way and undoubtedly further damaging the reputation of the school they are supposed to be promoting and protecting.

    Yours sincerely,

  29. North six says:

    I can’t see how that is relevant to this discussion, Cedar.

    • Reading through all your comments from the two identities you have assumed on this website, contradict everything you claim to oppose. I feel your length of time at the school is essential to your point of view.

  30. Interesting. Hogwarts is the safe haven that gets breached, shattered and is the final scene of the triumph of good over evil. At the very end the complete truth is revealed, in similar fashion to the denouement in an Adam Dalgleisch detection. Hogwarts is also Potter’s ‘real’ home, a place where he grows up, learns about the world and through great teachers and a great headmaster (Dumbledore, not the dark days under Umbrage) develops and refines his sense of values and morality. A compelling picture of what boarding schools can be, with a little imagination. Or just an illusion?

  31. I have read this thread with some distress.

    There appears to be rather a lot of mud slung at Quentin Poole without any grounds. Reading between the lines, no wonder he is off sick, the atmosphere would be stressful enough to cause a long-term illness.

    He appears to be well liked, and past students are not queuing up to accuse him of things he should not have done. If this is a case of power politics then it is the worst sort and has no place in a school. Headteachers should not bully their staff any more than they should tolerate unprofessional behaviour, and I read of no evidence that Quentin Poole doing anything other than his job.

    As for adults telling students that they have no right to comment by the time they are in the sixth form: how arrogant. These young people are having to sit exams under toxic circumstances. Why should they not comment. They are not being abusive (unlike the students from Chets a few months ago who did allow things to get personal when the situation stated that current staff were not squeeky clean).

    As for those who are taking nom-de-plumes from fiction, I find your behaviour cowardly. You do not impress me at all. You are not helping the pupils and staff at the school, and make yourself look like a fool.

    I am who I say I am. I am saddened by this situation. Yet another specialist music school whose name is being dragged through the gutter.

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