Petition for an inquiry into sexual and psychological abuse at Chetham’s School of Music and other specialist institutions

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 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.

399 Comments on “Petition for an inquiry into sexual and psychological abuse at Chetham’s School of Music and other specialist institutions”

  1. Judith Pendrous says:

    Please add me, thanks (RNCM 1986 – 89)

  2. Clara Biss says:

    I’d like to sign the petition, I went to Wells 1991-97. I feel very lucky to have had a great education there, both musically and academically, and have no reason to suspect any wrongdoing during my time there.

  3. Please add my name – Laurence Joyce

  4. EMMa Sheppard says:

    Please add me to petition. Thanks

  5. Andrew Whitaker says:

    Please add my name. Chet,’s pupil 91-93. Chet’s staff 99-2006

  6. Lucy Slane says:

    Add me please: Lucy Slane.

  7. ianpace says:

    The full list of signatories is now online on this blog – – if anyone still wants to add their name, or knows others who might, please tell them either to leave a message under there or e-mail me at

  8. Freddie Collarbone says:

    Freddie Collarbone

  9. ann hooley says:

    please add my name to mthe list
    ann hooley

  10. Helen Alipaz says:

    Hi, please add me.

  11. Chets 87-91. RNCM 91-97.

  12. Frances Morrison says:

    Please add my name. I was at Chethams 1980-82 and the RNCM 1982-87

  13. Emily Gadd says:

    Please add my name, I was at TCM 2008-2012. Thanks!

  14. Justine Hewson says:

    I will sign please, at Chets 1980 – 1988

  15. Justine Hewson says:

    I will sign – at Chets 1980 – 1987

  16. Emma says:

    Please add my name to this. I work for Enough Abuse.

  17. Naomi says:

    I was at the Purcell School in late 80s. This was definately happening there as well.

  18. Gemma Casey says:

    Please sign me to this it is very important to stop abuse to children

  19. Tom Millar says:

    Please sign me to this. Disgusted. RAM 2010-12

  20. David Jackson says:

    Parent of 2 pupils who, as day students, were regularly bullied and forced to hand over money – often large amounts

    • May I ask how did Chets deal with it ? I am Founder of and would like to know more as they are about to review their CP policy as they say they have ” rigourous safeguarding procedures ” However do the Governors REALLY know what they NEED to know – I doubt it as most people seemingly dont want to listen and learn? Thanks Marilyn Hawes

    • Did you submit, or have someone submit on your behalf, a formal written complaint to the authorities at the school? If so, what, if anything, was the outcome? I do not wish to pry for the sake of it as it is none of my personal business, but these are serious allegations to which you have drawn our attention here and if money was handed over, presumably under duress, was it in cash or is it traceable and to whom was it handed? If adequate response was not forthcoming or if none at all was forthcoming from the school, did anyone then refer the matter to the police? Might someone now respond to Ms Hawes’ invitation to discuss it with

      • Peter Noke says:

        I imagine that a key reason why so many people felt unable to do something about this at the time is because they felt unsupported, unbelieved. That is most evident. There should be proper investigation and (where appropriate) charges made against those who failed to do their managerial job satisfactorily.

        Nonetheless that requires its victims to re-live their experiences afresh, and all in the glare of the public grimace. Many may feel understandable anguish and possibly further guilt at not knowing what is now best to do. Many may well feel that they have dealt with their situation as best they could and want to see justice done whilst continuing to be allowed to move on.

        The balance is a delicate one. How did our desire for justice serve Frances Andrade and her family ? I am doubtful that the kind of thought and sensitivity this requires can best be handled via the current and blunt instrument of the law alone.

        • Of course that is the case, as you rightly observe and the Frances Andrade tragedy is as sad an illustration of this as there can be; this, I believe, is why what happened to her has proved to be a catalyst for others bringing forward comments and allegations.

          The reason that I mentioned about the means by which money was allegedly handed over is that, if this were ever done by a traceable means, there would be hard evidence of transactions of a kind that is usually not so easily produceable in cases of bullying, sexual or psychological abuse.

          The problem with demands for money with menaces (which is what I’m assuming Mr Jackson to refer to above) is that, all too often, giving in to such demands leads to ever greater demands for money.

          It’s entirely up to Mr Jackson himself, of course, but at least he has now briefly aired the substance of his grievance here so it is out in the open and has generated an invitation to discuss it with an organisation dedicated to helping in such cases; I wish him the best of success with this.

        • Hi Peter – people in general need relevant and effective education raising awareness as to how grooming occurs and the behaviour of the abuser and the horrific impact of abuse on the victims and family. 1 in 6 children are abused in the UK – how many are missed by staff who do not notice or do nothing about the signs displayed . Do they know what to look for? It is all about behaviour. As you rightly say it is not just about the law it is about compassionate understanding –

  21. Jacqueline Marshall says:

    Please add my name

  22. Alex Hamilton says:

    I will sign . Chets. 2003-2010

  23. Kate Walsh says:

    Those poor children. The perpitrators are disgusting. Of course there should be an enquiry.

  24. Christopher Clift says:

    Count me in to support this demand for an inquiry

    • Christopher Clift says:

      For the record – GSMD 1958-60, Northern School of Music 1964-68. Ida Carroll will be turning in her grave at this business.

  25. Audrey Innes says:

    As a member of staff at St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh for 25/26 years, and aware of two occasions of abuse, I would like to add my name to this enquiry.

    • Hi Audrey – please see website for our specific awareness training to PREVENT abuse- St Marys may be interested and also in our West Yorkshire confernece on 13 June – I am a former Director of Music whose 3 sons were abused by the Head teacher many years ago and Founder of our charity . We have signed the petition for an enquiry – Marilyn Hawes

  26. Dear Ian,
    I would like to sign the petition. Many thanks for this initiative.
    Yours sincerely,
    Nicholas Rimmer
    (Pianist, RNCM Junior School 1990-2000)

  27. Helen Simons says:

    Please add my name to the petition, Helen Simons (Purcell School 1990-1992). Thanks.

  28. Mrs Hayward-Pritty says:

    I am the mother of a former pupil. I fully support a public enquiry. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the family of the beautiful, brave, young woman, Frances, also a mother. The loss of her life must not be in vain.

  29. Gaby Lester says:

    I will sign. I was at the Yehudi Menuhin School 1971-1973

  30. Alan Gruner says:

    Had no idea. Good luck with your endeavours

  31. Michael Heald says:

    I wa at the RNCM 1985-1989. Please add my name.

  32. Andrew Wilde says:

    I sign this petition without hesitation.
    At Chethams’s 1979-82 and RNCM 1982-87

  33. Caroline Waters says:

    I was at Chets from 1979 -1984, RNCM 1984-1988. Thanks to everyone who has brought this to public attention!

  34. Ben Rogerson says:


  35. Tim Warburton says:

    Please enter my name on the petition

  36. Bridget MacRae says:

    I’d like to please add my name to the petition

  37. Ramon says:

    yup you can add me

  38. Virginia Astley says:

    please can you add me? Virginia Astley (ex chets)

  39. Alice Leaver says:

    I left chets when i was 13, as my parents felt that the pastoral care was shabby and the children were not looked after.
    I then went to another independent school in the north east to finish my education. In the years in the north east, there were a lot of inappropriate relationships between staff and pupils, most of which between the senior music staff and year 11, and sixth form girls.
    it is not just music schools that need investigating, it is all independent schools who have access to students on a 1 to 1 basis.
    chets (2002-2006)

  40. Huw Rees says:

    I was at Chets 1969 -1973, a cathedral chorister. I never had any problem/issue at all, in fact i have nothing but amazing memories of incredibly talented kids (I was a close friend of Wayne Marshall). I am upset by these obviously real problems. I hope this works out for the best. Let’s not forget the amazing school this is, beyond this tragedy.
    Huw Rees – a terribly poor musician but one who stands in awe of the talent I witnessed

    • Elaine Green says:

      I was at RMCM/RNCM from1964 – 1975 (Junior Dept & then full-time, Teaching & Performance Diplomas) & good friends then and now with Martin Roscoe & Peter Donohoe. During my time there I never experienced any physical abuse, but on reflection I would say that I experienced verbal abuse (in a sexually suggestive way) on a few occasions, more so when I was a full- time student. However I was aware of something going on, from what other students sometimes implied! Perhaps I wasn’t attractive enough, thank goodness; all this makes me very sad, although as others say, I’m sure it has always been there, especially in boarding schools, particularly where children are away from their parents for long spells of time, and maybe feel home- sick? I did personally have “crushes” on teachers while at day school & college, and I can see how situations could get out of hand.
      This whole revelation, highlighted since Jimmy Savile, is obviously not new, & is going on everywhere & in all walks of life.

      Elaine Green (Violinist}

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  42. Al says:

    I was a pupil at Watford School of Music from 1972-1977 where I was regularly sexually abused by a piano teacher there who left suddenly during the middle of a term in 1976. I would be interested to know if there are other victims out there from this period who studied either at Watford School of Music or the Royal College of Music where this man also taught?

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