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Just in: Purcell School announces two deputy heads, no head of music

While the fate of the well-supported Quentin Poole remains in the Governors’ hands, the headmasters has appointed two deputies to take the wieght off his back. The announcement went out to parents today. So much for saving costs.

Many parents, pupils and graduates are outraged at the treatment of Mr Poole. Among those blazoning the green ribbon of solidarity is Nicholas Daniel, the school’s first BBC Young Musician winner.

green ribbon




Here’s the head’s statement.

Staff news
Following an extensive recruitment process, I am delighted to announce the following
Mr James Harding to be Deputy Head (Staff and Communications) from January 2014.
Mr Harding studied English at Glasgow University, and is currently completing a
Masters in Educational Leadership at Buckingham University. After posts at St John’s,
Leatherhead, and Sutton Valence School, he was appointed Head of English at
Bradfield College in 2002, becoming a Housemaster in 2006. His interests include
music, especially opera, and Italian culture.
(I am in the process of appointing an Interim Deputy Head for the Autumn Term
Mrs Christine Rayfield to be Deputy Head (Students and Innovation) from September
2013. Mrs Rayfield is a graduate of Birmingham University, where she read Music,
followed by a PGCE at Westminster College, Oxford. She taught at The Latymer School
in London, Dulwich College and Nottingham High School for Girls before being
appointed to Trent College in 2004, where she is a Housemistress and Head of Year
12. Her husband is a music teacher, and both her daughters are string players.

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  1. As a student at the school, I find this whole situation and the Headmasters behaviour very underhand and quite frankly, disgusting. This school will undoubtably fail to remain if such behaviours continue.

    • Purcell teacher says:

      Most of my colleagues are equally disgusted with our Headmaster and Governors despicable behaviour in saying there is no money to sustain the essential post of Director of Music in a world famous MUSIC school,
      yet still be able to find money to create two unnecessary management posts instead.

      TWO Deputy heads in a small school?

      One to be in charge of Staff and Communications, the other, Students and Innovation (whatever silly speak that means?) and she is a music graduate from Birmingham, so will no doubt, take over some of the music previously allocated to the dismissed Director of Music.

      So what is David Thomas as Headmaster, actually being paid to do if these two new posts in a small school seem to cover all eventualities of what a Headmaster is meant to do for his highly paid salary?

      Oh, run the music department of course!!

  2. 2 Assistant Heads? The school really need is a Physical Education teacher and someone who can supervise (who also knows what healthy food is!) the catering department.

    • No John, the school really needs a new Headmaster and board of Governors……………….!

  3. Nicholas Daniel says:

    This happened at the request of social services after the previous head’s nonsense. What this school needs is a much loved, musical, trusted Head of Music in a MUSIC SCHOOL.
    I’ve heard some people talking about the situation with Quentin’s partner and a legal case at the school, but that’s Quentin’s partner, not Quentin. I don’t know much about that except that it was the result of actions from the previous Head.
    The sad thing is that Quentin is currently under such strain that he can’t work, but the situation needs a quick and proper resolution so that he can decide what he wants to do.

  4. Observer says:

    This is because David Thomas, (an ex Director of Music himself), plans to take over running the music department, at Purcell school, and become the first Headmaster to try to do so.

    His plan is transparent.

    This is a man who was an Oxford Organ scholar of a minor college, who after short two year stints as Assistant Directors of Music at various schools, chose instead, to turn his back on being a serious dedicated music teacher for the dizzy heights of the power and control of school management.

    However, he has never quite been able to let go of the amateur musician in him, as was the case at his last school, (Reigate Grammar) where as Headmaster, he took the chamber choir off the then Director of Music to conduct himself.

    Such was demonstrated further, with a picture of Mr Thomas conducting the said choir at St Paul’s Cathedral, on the home page of Reigate School, before he resigned to come and ruin The Purcell School.

  5. Well, how nice for the Head to be given two assistants. While the students have none.

    Does anyone know what the difference is between the money saved by sacking Mr Poole and the money spent on two new salaries? Is that sort of information freely obtainable?

  6. A Parent says:

    Nearly two weeks has passed since the intended Appeal for Mr Poole’s post and the serious future of the role of music in this specialist music school.

    What are the Head and governors playing at??

    The unacceptable delay of providing the outcome of this crucial appeal to parents,stressed and worried pupils during their exam period, and the musical world at large, is nothing more than irresponsible and outrageous transparent behaviour, which demonstrates publicly all that is rotten about this school.

    Doesn’t the Governing body of any school have a MORAL obligation to represent the views of parents, pupils and staff, rather than so blatantly shirk their responsibilities?

    Why are this shoddy lot, (including TC actress Jenny Agutta, and ENO Leader and ex Purcellian, Janice Graham, both distinguished current Governors) shirking their responsibilities?

  7. So the school has appointed two new deputy heads BEFORE hearing Quentin’s appeal.

    There are words to describe this sort of behaviour, some of which are vaguely polite.

    @ Nick Daniel: you are an oboist who as an almunus of the school, I would have thought they’d have valued your opinion (you are certainly a musician I respect, and I do play the oboe, and looked up to you when I was at secondary school as you had recently won Young Musician of the Year at the time, so were partially responsible for my choice of orchestral instrument).

    You are quite correct, David Thomas has now made his actions very clear, and I don’t like them any more than you.

    Should Quentin not get his job back, I do hope he gets a decent amount of compensation for the intollerable amount of stress that the situation has put him through.

    The way he has been treated leaves me metaphorically spitting feathers. One does not treat decent people like this.

  8. member of staff says:

    Two new appointments, refurbishments of school accommodation to house them, and more wasted money on more school gates planned at a wasteful expense., oh, and a huge overdraft to meet on the massive loan borrowed to build new boarding houses, when the old ones sufficed, and could have simply been refurbished for a fraction of the cost.

    No wonder this school claims to have no money for MUSIC education, but surely that cannot be the excuse given by our Headmaster as his reason for abolishing the key lynch pin of a MUSIC school, when so much expenditure seems to be suddenly available to the detriment of the destruction of The Director of MUSIC’s post, and with it, the downgrading of the role of MUSIC in the curriculum at this MUSIC school! (the clue is in the word MUSIC)

  9. another ex Purcell parent says:

    This is unbelievable! Frankly I do not believe the school is going to survive as a specialist music school, mainly because it clearly no longer is. I feel desperately sorry for the current students and those staff members who have served the school well over many years. Quentin Poole is obviously top of this list. I have said before but it’s worth repeating: he was always a star in the firmament at Purcell, hugely respected both as a man and a musician.

  10. It’s beyond unbelievable. Seriously, is there NO legal accountability? No system of checks and balances? Do parents really pay that sort of tuition money (plus all the other fees & expenses) to facilitate a body that then answers to no higher authority and can do what it likes?

    These aren’t just rhetorical questions. The power they hold over these people’s children is untenable. All the while, the privilege costs the families dearly.

    This sort of imbalance/injustice shouldn’t even be legal. Those who are directly affected by the rulings from above ought to have more rights (such as an independent avenue of appeal). Imagine a mainstream employer behaving like that – the work force would be out on strike or into a courtroom in no time. I thought we’d moved beyond the bad old days where this sort of thing could even happen.

    The sack-someone-to-save-money-and-then-create-two-new-positions machination is truly bizarre. Is anyone in a position to demand to see the figures, *at source* i.e. not filtered through some form of presentation? (How about an outside auditor?) If there are no laws to protect consumers and innocent staff in situations like this, they need to make some. Power can indeed corrupt. And “Private” should not mean Secret.

    At least this is how it looks from here. If anything I’ve written above is mistaken, please do correct it. For the sake of everyone who – like me – is reading this sorry tale at a safe distance.

    • Nicholas Daniel says:

      I have a feeling that there is a head in the sand attempt to bury bad news when the long holidays come, quite soon, and that is despicable.
      I be oeuvre that the 2 dep Heads were demanded by social services locally as checks and balances on the situation with the previous head, but I don’t know that for sure.
      What I know is that even my son’s Huntingdonshire comprehensive school has a Head of Music, and that Quentin Poole is respected and revered by the students and parents and by those of us on the coal face in the profession. A music school needs a good Head of Music. Simple.

      Personally, despite this very public forum, I have heard NOTHING fom the school or from the Governors, and I would have thought that by now I might have done, if only to threaten me with legal action!

      I think the legacy and the future of the school deserves some protection.


      • I meant *external* and *neutral* checks and balances, independent of the inside day-to-day workings of the school. An outside procedure which is in place for no other purpose. Two employees in subordinate positions are not going to be able to check ANYthing.

        They’ll be in the same situation as the rest: afraid to rock to boat because they could lose out. That’s not a real watchdog. A real watchdog needs legal teeth, with some effective bite.

        It looks as though “social services” have simply opted for a cosmetic “solution” instead of a genuine one. I can’t see why this situation should be within their (whoever They are) jurisdiction anyway. Who on earth do they think they’re fooling?

    • Kevin: I couldn’t agree with you more, especially the phrase, “private” should not mean secret.

      I like your idea of there being some kind of external audit facility for governing bodies. Many of these schools are registered charities, and the obvious auditor would be the Charity Commission.

      Indeed the Purcell School does fall within the remit of the Charity Commission, and has a list of patrons who are amongst the musical great and good, and/or have a history of being rather hot on ethics and morality. I would be very interested about how they feel about this issue and wonder has anyone even contacted them expressing the views of students or Mr Poole?

      I have no personal connection with the Purcell School, but one of the alumni, a disgruntled member of staff or the parent of or even a current student would be the right person to do this sort of thing. It took me about a minute to find the list of Patrons on the Schools own website, and no doubt there are ways of finding contact details.

      When something happens and action is needed, one has to be the right person and contact someone with means and influence. The Patrons have both means and influence. Therefore if people really do want to direct their feelings towards people who count, these are the people to address.

      • Katie Farnworth says:

        The addresses for all but two of the Patrons can be found in “Who’s Who”. The two not included can be reached by sending them a letter c/o the School.

      • Hear, hear. Let’s hope this can be done – perhaps by a committee or action group formed especially for the purpose? There’s strength in numbers. And one hopes the blog entries and their comments will be noted too.

      • past parent says:

        The Charity Commission have no power to investigate a charity unless it is breaking charity law. Being hopeless doesn’t count.

        The right people to appeal to are the Governors and the government department that funds the school (considerably)

  11. In view of Joanna’s post above, it might be well to link here to a previous blog (It’s D-Day…) which has had some recent useful comments added. I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen these by now, but if not it’s worth a re-visit:

  12. Why don’t we just leave David Thomas to do what he wants; I know it might all sound like a bad idea, but we never know, he might completely turn around the school completely!

    • Didn’t mean to put two ‘completely’s there

    • Purcell parent says:


      Oh, so we should all ignore this and try to act as if nothing has happened? My conscience is simply not that cowardly. I literally couldn’t sleep at night. From talking with other parents, I know I’m not the only parent who has been losing sleep, deeply disturbed by what is happening at Purcell.

      Even in an everyday state school, the idea of leaving a head to ‘do what he wants’ (!) is a really bad idea (let alone a new head who’s completely unfamiliar with the school). That is why there’s usually a solid governing body and parent body, to help the school stay on track. Unfortunately, the governing body seems to have lost their way and the parents are too frightened.

      Glossing over this and trying to pretend it isn’t happening, or trying to submerge it, is unethical and shameful. We are not talking about what is EASY. We are not talking about what might be beneficial for a few scared henchmen in their struggle for power. We are talking about what is RIGHT. The right option is often not the easy option. The right option requires great courage and bravery.

      Leaving Mr Thomas to do what he wants has resulted in THIS – quite simply a culture of cowering fear. A school where staff are terrified to speak out against the new regime. A place where parents are afraid their children will lose their places if they object. A once-lovely happy school where pupils are now really distressed and receiving a shameful example of how adults behave.

      You don’t need to go far into the history books to see how regimes like this become successful, and how they are maintained by fear and the jostling for power amongst a few henchmen who have kept their jobs (so far!). History also tells us that it usually requires external forces to topple these regimes, though current events are now showing how huge numbers of astoundingly brave and compassionate ordinary people are challenging ruling regimes in the squares and parks of their cities the world over.

      “Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”
      (Macbeth, Act V, Scene I)

    • “Might completely turn the school around” ?? Sounds like that’s exactly what he IS doing. More like turning it upside down.

      Question is, does it need turning around? And if so, is this the best direction?

      I notice these mildly “pro” current-regime posts never actually tell us anything. No hard facts or clear statements, just innuendo and vague rhetorical questions. How about some answers or supporting evidence? Such as:

      How will “turning it around” and leaving David Thomas to do exactly what *he* wants be of benefit to the students and the families who pay to keep them there? Care to supply some details?

      Nobody seems to ever actually answer this vital question. If DT has some master plan that will actually help the training of young musical talent and minds, rather than powering his own career, we have yet to hear of it.

  13. past parent says:

    @purcell parent

    So why don’t you pull your child out? Surely their education and well being is more important to you than the future of the school?

    We pulled our child out when this all started and this was the best decision we ever made. There are many superior options.

    • Purcell parent says:

      Indeed, that would be the ‘easy’ option, wouldn’t it?!! If all the complaining parents just went away and stopped mentioning the horrible mess.That way the school gets a nice compliant parent body, all of whom act out of fear, fluttering their hands mildly, complaining about how awful it is but doing absolutely nothing. I can see how that would suit Purcell down to the ground.

      Why is it a choice? BOTH things are important – my own child’s education and happiness AND the future of the school. I don’t see this as a completely self-serving issue, as some at the school do. I have a conscience, and I’m also willing to be brave and speak for those who say they are are upset but cannot find their own voice, out of fear. There is such a thing as the greater good. It is possible to strive for it.

      How sad that there is an entire school (teachers, parents, pupils) in fear of a Headmaster and a few barons, all squabbling for sovereignty over patches of ground. Game of Thrones, anyone?

      • past parent says:

        Not sure why you are “in fear of a Headmaster”. I found him quite approachable and reasonable. I think statements like this – plus the mention of a vicious TV programme – make another human sound like an ogre. Perhaps you should either get out or, if it matters to you, go see him and talk.

        • Purcell parent says:

          I’m not sure how you know Mr Thomas if you’re a ‘past parent’? Or what you mean by a vicious TV programme.

          However, that aside, I do agree he comes over as personable and, indeed, made the most fantastic initial impression – not least with the pupils. He is a good public speaker and also known for being very responsive to parents in matters such as housekeeping, maintenance etc. But, when such a man goes from being apparently fabulous to no longer greeting pupils or congratulating them, being distant and silent, and then takes it into his head to destroy the post of Director of Music (in a specialist music school!) one is left wondering about what he’s really about. It completely destroys all trust in him, without him even saying a word. In fact, the silence makes it a hundred times worse.

          As for staff, I’m sure they can speak for themselves but I would be astonished if they didn’t live in fear of losing their jobs if this is what the Head is clearly capable of. As for the pupils, well, he has entirely lost their confidence. An enormous shame as it was all such a fantastic start with a great deal of hope.

          Parents have tried to talk to him informally but I’m afraid he gives them a whole lot of flannel about how fine everything is/ will be. This is a great pity as it studiously ignores the elephant in the room – and how on earth he plans to run the critically important music side of the school, which is already showing marked strain. We are still waiting to hear the plans. I imagine we will never be told.

          Several parents have considered going to see him to support him in changing his mind about the DoM post. He is, after all, in a position to do this despite his protestations to the contrary – all he has to do is tell the governors and ask them to support him. There would be a collective sigh of enormous relief and the whole school (except perhaps for a few barons) would break into utter jubilation. It would be a happy school again. Parents have held back from approaching him more formally because they feel their children would then be marked for life at the school – one foot out of line and they’d move so fast through the sanctions hierarchy their feet wouldn’t touch the ground before the Head would find a way to be expel them. THAT is why we fear him. Going to see the Head in these circumstances makes things worse not better.

          And, as for the HoDs! Now Mr Poole is absent we are already seeing biased behaviour and very odd out-of-rule-book decisions regarding pupils and performance opportunities which will doubtless turn into the most horrible mess next year when newly scheduled concerts mean they have to fight it out between themselves. Pupils say they can’t talk to the HoDs at all and parents can’t either for similar reasons. Again, any sort of questioning of the actions of those in power leaves parents and pupils fearing what might happen.

          I’m sure the head is a very nice man but he has very actively decided not to be perceived as such by making these decisions, and by his terrible silence.

          This is why there is fear. This is why we feel we can’t say anything. Miserable, isn’t it?

        • member of staff says:

          You don’t know the half of it past parent!

          There has been a culture of management bullying here at the Purcell school since the arrival of the previous sacked Head Peter Crook, who, not having the experience of running a school before had to rely on legal advice and litigation before he made any decision, and he tried to use it to remove some staff he didn’t approve of.

          Such bullying of staff is still ongoing under the new Head David Thomas, Bursar Aideen MacNamara, and some of the old publicschool bullyboys who somehow remain on the Governing body.

          Staff and parents are fearful of speaking out against the regime because they know it will result in some sort of hassle and possible disciplinary.

          David Thomas may give the impression that all is sweetness and light, but he has displayed a few too many uncontrolled moments of anger towards those who challenge him, and he is not liked or trusted anymore for this Jeckel & Hyde personality.

          It’s also pointless trying to speak with him – he’s never seems to be around school much these days.
          Probably got too much litigation to deal with?

          • I agree with the above. Had a discussion with my child last weekend about Head. According to my son there is no visible presence of Head in school at all. I have seen pro-Poole messages in entrance (outside school), so there is still a protest is going on.

            It is very clear that due to all these issues pupils are left in the dark and unattended. There is no real sense of direction, planning or nurturing happens in school other than some nice teachers taking initiative themselves.

    • “BOTH things are important – my own child’s education and happiness AND the future of the school.”

      I wish the blog had a Facebook-style “Like” button so I could give this a thumbs-up. It goes straight to the heart of the matter. This is an essential point, and extends far beyond Purcell.

  14. An Ex-Parent says:

    Member of staff says:…”and some of the old public school bullyboys”. Your dragging ‘public school’ into the issue seems unnecessary and shows petty prejudice (prejudices come in many forms). All the more so given it’s quite hard to think of the specialist music schools as state schools.
    I similarly bridle when I hear journalists so frequently linking the word ‘hothouse’ to the name of a specialist music school. Usually Menuhin School. In many instances these schools serve to protect some children from extreme parental demands and control.

  15. > “In many instances these schools serve to protect some children from extreme parental demands and control.”

    I have no disagreement with anything Ex-Parent says. But I would add that students (and staff) also need protecting from the “extreme control” of their school’s own governing board. That is what’s fuelling the complaints here.

    The current structure allows arbitrary, non-visible exercise of power, with no accountability or effective avenues of protest, and it is badly in need of reform. What does it take to put a fairer system into motion, legally? This is not a rhetorical question.

    The paying consumers (for want of a better term, but that’s what they are) and employees need more rights. The status quo appears to equal a dictatorship shrouded in secrecy. How trustworthy is that?

    • Past Teacher says:

      Oh dear! All the usual stuff. Blame Peter Crook for everything [redacted: defamation].

      Ask some questions?

      When was the last review of your child with head of music, instrumental teacher and HoD? Has there ever been one, or isn’t it necessary?

      When was there a departmental meeting about Child Abuse, as it has been a problem in SMS and shouldn’t the school talk to its teachers about its one to one teaching image?

      Actually, when was there an instrumentlal departmental meeting? Has there been one this year? What about last year?

      Would a string teachers meeting to talk about how to prevent the unhappiness in the department, or the anything else that might trouble a specialist music school be useful?

      Chets has introduced peer to peer teacher review as in the state sector. Could that be needed at Purcell? Is there a professional school teacher out there who might suggest it was useful?

      Chets had to introduce peer to peer because it was forced on them by public and parent opinion. Chets also was publicly forced by the DoE to have a staff meeting about the severe troubles there, as the management thought it wasn’t necessary and hadn’t bothered to have one.

      What is on display has been crap management failing in every possible way to a large number of students and staff.

      The attack on David Thomas is premature. On his plate is the Quentin/Ian mess which will result in another expensive payout after the expensive Peter Crook payout. This predates David Thomas.

      However, if you ask key teaching staff at the school, they do think the future will be better.

      Get your shoulder behind solid teaching values as in normal schools and then deal with your talented little darlings. Too many specially bad decisions have been made defended by the bankrupt logic that it has to be done differently in SMS. SMS are a very tricky environment. They ARE hot houses and have all the resulting problems. The solution is to deal with the problems and make the school a model of good management and teaching practices.

      I think that is where David Thomas is coming from and we are currently dealing with the past – which was horrible.

      • I think you hit the “Reply” button when you meant the “Speak Your Mind” one. This doesn’t really relate to what I wrote above. Excellent food for thought, though.

        (What is the difference between “key” teaching staff and the rest?)

        • Past Teacher says:

          The school has had no agreement in the staff for years about most things. Limited, non existent or just extremely unpleasant meetings has resulted in huge fragmentation of opinion. A military style of management before David Thomas meant that as you disagreed with most of their discussions, or you were not consulted or had the decisions explained, you either ignored it or just pretended it wasn’t there.
          This is very obvious in the postings. Most of the academic staff hardly know the instrumental staff as they don’t have a functioning staff room (it used to be mostly empty). I do think it is so hard of outside observers and parents to realise just how low things sank before David Thomas.

          ‘Key staff’ – the ones that I agree with and who I perceive as having a view of education driving them rather than personal vanity or some discredited foreign teaching system which they grew up in. I am always hoping they will win out.

          • I am criticising the status quo and a structure, not a specific individual. And I’ve taken my cues from the testimonies here of students and staff who are experiencing events *now*, as they happen.

            I’m still not quite sure why you’ve chosen my post, out of all of them, to rebut. (My use of the term “dictatorship” was as a generality, alluding to a whole regime, not any particular person. Like “talented little darlings”, it’s easy to misinterpret in cold print.)

            I don’t think we really disagree with each other. Indeed, I respect the points you’ve made.

      • Elisabeth says:

        @Past teacher ~ I tound your post a little hard to follow as I’m unsure what it relates to, but these may be interesting questions.

        That aside, I must take issue with the pejorative “talented little darlings”. This is deeply insulting to parents, the vast majority of whom send their children to Purcell because the children adore music, have a flair for it and would be very unhappy in a more everyday form of education. Music at Purcell can be pretty laid back if a pupil prefers it that way, as I’m sure most of the pupils, parents and teachers would agree. The lazy or downright rude use of a phrase like this is highly likely to undermine any otherwise sensible reasoning you might possibly have to offer to us.

        • Past Teacher says:

          I was a student at a SMS, I taught at more than one SMS.

          A little self mockery in ‘talented little darlings.’ I’m sorry I was not a little clearer and didn’t mean to offend in the way you have perceived. I have posted before extensively about the problems at Purcell. I think I just want to emphasise how much better if these children were first treated normally. Then offered extra special music opportunities.

          Most of them fall in to the category of normal except for their playing. A few are quite unusual with their talent, but still need contact with good school structure and teaching.

          There is no special world out there for when they become professionals Only the most unusual artists can bend the world around themselves. The rest are just a total pain, just redeemed by their playing.

        • @Elisabeth. Very true indeed. That is the major problem with the school! I don’t think any of the pupil prefers “that laid back way”, but that is the structure that cultivates in children’s mind especially if they start as pre-teens there. If you trawl through the internet you can see many of the leavers confess the same thing.

          • Elisabeth says:

            @John, I think you misunderstand me. I was simply referring to the non-hothouse atmosphere where pupils are encouraged and supported, but not unpleasantly forced or pushed (despite what some of their parents might want). Purcell is a very special place despite all the problems and it’s important that the positive sides of its character continue to thrive. They’re such a good counterbalance to the stresses pupils at specialist music schools go through when trying to balance an academic and musical education.

  16. angry parent says:

    Does anyone have news of Mr Poole’s appeal hearing last Thursday?

    Word has it, that yet again it was postponed??

    It is typical of David Thomas and the Governors to delay the outcome the day before the end of term, so we go away worrying over the summer break anxious for news.

    These shoddy bunch should resign in shame for the crass and out of order manner they are playing both with poor Mr Poole, and the role and severe lowering of musical standards if they persist in removing the role of Director of Music.

    I speak for many parents and pupils, who share our anger and dismay at how badly this school are treating us over this very important issue.

    If the Governors and Headmaster think we are all suddenly going to forget the intense seriousness of this badly handled major issue over the summer break,, they are very much mistaken!

    • Past Teacher says:

      Dear Angry Parent,

      Surely nothing can happen until the Ian MacMillan case is decided – or he is paid off. David Thomas should be given the benefit of the doubt about how long this unpleasant problem he inherited takes to go away.

      True, I also have no confidence in the Governors and they should be pressured to get active or leave – just like Chets. However, there are very high standards from many of the teachers at Purcell irrespective of wether Mr. Poole is there or not. My teaching standard was never affected by him.

      I doubt if you speak for many parents with your strident tone and accusations. My thoughts turn to the instant mob in the Simpsons.

      If you are angry, form a parents committee. Set up a parents web site. Do something useful.

      • Did David Thomas “inherit” the firing of Mr Poole? I have been under the impression from what I read here that it was he who abolished Poole’s post, and Poole along with it. (If this is incorrect, someone please clarify the situation.) That sacking is what’s causing a lot of the present misery and fury, as message after message attests. I’m not sure why you doubt that Angry Parent speaks for many, or where the Simpsons-mob comment is coming from. These parents and students are eyewitnesses. And the suppression of a peaceful symbolic protest tells us something too.

        Meanwhile, an angry student has posted in the “Court win for teacher” thread (full text there) and his/her feelings are strong indeed, as the anecdote about the door name-plates vibrantly illustrates.

        “I have just had my last week at this vile school. The atmosphere since we were ridiculed and told we couldn’t wear ribbons of support for the return of our Head of Music can only be described as toxic…

        Everyone leaving in my year are going to most of the the big music colleges where we will tell everyone how vile this school is, and to tell friends in other orchestras like NYO not to apply…”

        Yes, it’s only one side of the story. But we could do a better job of giving the benefit of the doubt if voices in the other camp – and I mean the INSIDERS, those who actually know what’s going on because they are part of it – would speak up with some sort of justification or explanation. If people are paying expensive tuition I think at least that much is owed to them. But all is secrecy and silence.

        All the while Purcell’s fine reputation sinks deeper and deeper and deeper into the mire. Inch by heartbreaking inch. 

        • Past Teacher says:

          Oh. So, you speak for the insiders. No, you don’t. You speak for the Quentin camp.

          If you look back in the Purcell School posts you will see how much Quentin was obstructive to good teaching, good student relationships, proper contracts with instrumental teachers, holiday pay payments, proper sick pay and more. Yes, it is heartbreaking to see such apologists for those times – well before David Thomas.

          Cast your mind back to the two open letters of resignation from academic members of staff posted on the school staff board saying how the school had changed to a very unpleasant place since they had left Harrow. I know of no school other school I have worked in where this has even happened once.

          There are no such thing as insiders in the Purcell School, unless times have changed. What is displayed in this forum is exactly why the staff room was empty for so many years.
          By the way, the reputation of most SMS in the profession is rubbish and has been for years – maybe 50.

          • I never said I spoke for the Insiders. Read what I ACTUALLY WROTE. I said that *they* need to speak up in order to give us some comparative basis re the benefit of the doubt. And I explained above what I meant by “insiders” – i.e. those with the power. The “other camp”, if you will.

          • Purcell parent says:

            @Past Teacher, sadly your posts are undermining any weight they could potentially carry in this debate. Your unpleasant remarks about SMS can now be added to your remarks about parents and pupils. It seems you may possibly have some axe to grind, I’m not sure. Harrow was really quite a long time ago and most people currently involved with the school are interested in moving forward in a really positive and constructive way. Making the school a better place. It DOES need improving, clearly, but removing the DoM post (regardless of who is the incumbent) is not an improvement. It is beyond crazy in a specialist music school.

      • Purcell parent says:

        Angry Parent does in fact speak for many of us. For reasons you’ll see above, parents do not feel able to speak out in any shape or form. Why is nobody absorbing and taking in the implications of this incredibly important fact?

        I am seeing WAY too many unpleasant and even venomous remarks from some (past or current) staff about parents on these threads, which is indicative of what parents are up against. The parental tone of ‘If you are angry, form a parents committee. Set up a parents web site. Do something useful’ is another feature of these types of comments. I am not sure why you feel you should be able to address people in this way. Parents have a right to be angry and, believe me, some parents feel violently so. We have a perfect right to express it in any way we wish that is within the law. WE ARE PAYING FEES FOR THIS SHAMBLES. It is a product / service and we have a perfect right to expect a good school with excellent leadership and governance for money like that.

        As a parent I feel completely helpless in the face of all this. Tell me, WHAT are we supposed to do? from all directions I hear that the parents are simply too scared. It is the exact opposite of the mob psychology Past Teacher suggests.

        @Kevin. You’re right. David Thomas may have inherited the Ian Macmillan thing but he was *definitely* the one to eliminate the DoM post. There is, in fact. quote a lot he could do to stop all this happening but he alleges his hands are legally tied. Well, HE was the one who managed to create that situation, not anybody else – he is perfectly capable of calling off the legal eagles and pulling us all out of this sorry mess. He is costing the taxpayer and the school a complete fortune.

  17. former 6 former says:

    And lets not forget it is Mr Thomas who has singlehandedly ruined the school by thinking he is a good enough musician and draw on his own background as a director of music to think he can be the first headmaster to also be director of music as well.

    As a former recent pupil who has just left, I speak for many of my friends who have seen through him and what an average musician he is.

    He may be able to namedrop those professional musicians he knows, but he will be completely ridiculed if he tries to take rehearsals of either choir or orchestra now he has deliberately got rid of Mr Poole to do so.

    He’s a headmaster, not a musician, and should leave well alone from meddling in music matters as he is completely out of his depth. (Ask any former singer under him at Reigate School, whose choir he took off the annoyed director of music cos Mr T thought he knew better!)

    How glad we leavers are to leave now, and feel completely sorry for those who have to put up with Mr Thomas trying to run a music school without a Director of Music!

    • It might not have been Mr. Thomas’s fault, he may have been under pressure from the governors. Wait until he sends home the letter, and see what he writes before you make any judgements such as ‘Mr Thomas has ruined the school.’ Give him a chance!

      • former 6 former says:

        as another pupil at the school, you will know what Mr Thomas has done to us all and has ruined the school.
        Didn’t you wear youre ribbon?

        Mr Thomas is under no pressure from Governors – there are all in it together to get rid of Mr poole and his friend most of us have never met, but are told that he was brilliant in standing against the peedofile interests of the last head.

        you must have heard Mr Crooks sex lesson recorded on a mobile phone and put onto CD?
        I thought all of us heard it when we join the school?
        Get someone to download it for you – you will be horrified at what he tells the boys to do.

        • I have heard the funny recording, and yes it is mildly shocking, not that bad; but you cannot make assumptions such as ‘All the governors and Mr. Thomas are in it to get rid of Mr. Poole’. Yes I did wear my green ribbon, but not against Mr. Thomas necessarily, but against whoever it was who decided to sack Mr. Poole.

          • former 6 former says:

            Well, you are the only person I have met at school who hasn’t been upset or shocked at what they were hearing on this CD and download freely available for us all to hear.
            Teachers tell us that police and authorities were more than ‘mildly shocked’, but were horrified and unhappy about a headmaster speaking to boys in such a lewd way.

            Please tell me why I can’t make assumptions like evryone else is about how Mr Poole has been treated by the school by dismissing him cos he supported another well liked and respected teacher, very few of us knew cos, he challenged mr crook over his creepy behaviour and who also happened to be his boyfriend as well.

            I am,like anyone else entitled to my opinions now I’m 18 and no longer a pupil there. (thank god)
            Get real and smell the coffee, there is nobody at Purcell not under the impression that Mr Thomas sacked Mr Poole for supporting his boyfriend who spoke out against the nasty Mr Crook.

  18. Past Teacher says:

    I am surprised that no one appears to have discussed the reasons behind appointing two deputy headmasters. There are a number of prestigious schools that I know of which have this system, and I hardly think it would have been approved in the Governors meetings at Purcell if a very strong case was not made for it.

    There appear to be many personal attacks going on which do nothing to educate and indeed mostly inflame the discussion. I am even under the impression that an attempt to mob David Thomas is going on.

    What I want to see is the SMS very well run – not a continuation of the past. Those of us who have taught at and been to these schools have been discussing this for decades without the SMS caring or doing anything which put to rights the failings of the past, starting with sex abuse, cruelty and going on with poor atmosphere and hot house environment.

    By the way Purcell Parent, the government pays the most money to the school but fails to have proper representation. What about trying to reform the board of Governors? Pressure now for a parent governor as well.

    ‘… I am not sure why you feel you should be able to address people in this way.’ Maybe I was a bit harsh. These days I try to get things done as it makes me feel better. I feel that the future could and should be better. What would be really useful is if some parents of each SMS talked to each other regularly. How did Chets Parents recently get a parent Governor?

    Do you know this site:

    He knows many of the main players as a Chets alumni.

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