Petition re-opened until May 31st – please click here.
Below is the text of a petition drafted by Paul Lewis, Tim Horton and myself, calling for an inquiry into sexual and psychological abuse in Chetham’s and other specialist music institutions. To sign, please leave a message here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be sent to the Guardian after midday Tuesday afternoon with the signatures we have by then, and forwarded to politicians and others. We are already amassing a considerable number of signatures both from ex-Chet’s people, other musicians, and others, but hope to get as many as possible. If you were at Chet’s or another specialist music school, do let us know which years you were there. Also, please let us know in what form you would like your name to be listed.
In recent weeks, the ongoing allegations of historical sexual abuse at Chetham’s School of Music have put many aspects of music education under intense public scrutiny. Following the conviction of the former director of music, Michael Brewer, the tragic death of Frances Andrade, and extensive testimonies in the press of other abuse, it is clear that there should now be a full independent inquiry into the alleged sexual and psychological abuse by Chetham’s staff since the establishment of the institution as a music school in 1969. Such an inquiry would ideally extend to other institutions as well, some of which have also been the subject of allegations of abuse.
Recent press reports have suggested that during this time many students complained to senior members of staff about the sexually abusive behaviour of a number of Chetham’s teachers, but that no satisfactory action was taken. While it is of primary concern that those who stand accused should be investigated as soon as possible, if these allegations are shown to be correct it will be important to understand the wider implications of a school culture which facilitated such abuses of trust, and afforded alleged offenders long-term protection. For this reason, we ask senior members of staff from that time to account for what appears to be the severe failure of the school system to protect its pupils from those who exploited their positions of power. The prevalence of sexual abuse which appears to have continued unhindered over many years suggests an alarming lack of responsibility and competence in the management of a school which had, above all, a duty to protect the welfare of its students and to nurture the artistic potential of every pupil. That Chetham’s appears to have failed in this respect, and with such devastating consequences for the personal and professional lives of the alleged victims, now requires some considerable explanation from those who held senior positions of authority.