We have received two letters sent to parents and staff by the chairman and headmaster of the private music school.
The situation is worse than we have reported. The letters reveal that due to ‘lower pupil numbers and rising costs’, the school is having to reduce its spending ‘significantly’.
Pause there. ‘Lower pupil numbers’ means that new parents are shunning Purcell this year. The Menuhin School, by contrast, is full. Significantly means cuts in quality.
To cover gaping holes in the budget, the post of Director of Music has been abolished. So, too, we now learn, has the Assistant Director of Music post. ‘The arrival of a new headmaster who is a former Director of Music was … a factor’, explains the chairman of governors. The new headmaster, David Thomas, now doubles as Director of Music.
Hang on, again. David Thomas has nothing like the pedigree of Quentin Poole, who has led the music department of a major music school for 25 years. Parents and staff know that. Pupils have been wearing green ribbons to protest Mr Poole’s dismissal and his replacement by Mr Thomas. Some have been disciplined for doing so.
So what are we to conclude? That the Purcell School has this year significantly downgraded its music.
The reasons are straightforward. Staff costs amount to 80% of the school’s outgoings, running (it appears from the chairman’s letter) at around £3 million a year. What the chairman does not mention is how the school got into this hole. It spent, we hear, up to quarter of a million pounds covering up the last head’s departure. Now it faces further cases for unfair dismissal.
No end in sight.