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.

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

  1. Elizabeth Gaskell says:

    I will sign petition. RNCM 1977-1983

    • George Nicholson says:

      I will happily sign. We need to eradicate this evil behaviour once and for all. Parent of student at Purcell (99-01), then Chet’s (01-02). Also guardian of Chet’s student, 06-11.

  2. Dennis Marks says:

    I will sign the petition. I worked with both Chethams students and graduates s from 1986 to 1991 and have worked with RNCM students in recent years.

  3. Heather Wallington says:

    I will sign the petition. I was a student at Chet’s 1986 – 8.

  4. Michal Kaznowski says:

    I will sign. I was a Menuhin School student in the early 70s and taught at some of the other specialist schools later. My warning was ignored.

  5. Asdis Valdimarsdottir says:

    As I am currently teaching at Cheethams and RNCM I am most interested in the psychological wellfare of the current students. They need to see the authorities responding to this crises appropriately.
    Will definitely sign. Was at Juilliard myself, 1980-1985

  6. Nicholas Dani says:

    I will sign this petition and I will tell the authorities everything I know and lead them to people who know more.
    Purcell School 1972-80.

  7. Have never actually been to Manchester, but if this well-considered action can help to get things sorted out in all institutions, I support fully it.

  8. Emily Hester says:

    I was a student at Wells Cathedral School between 1999 & 2005 and will happily sign.

  9. Lisa Nelsen says:

    I am the specialist flute teacher at Wells Cathedral School 2001-present and support these inquiries.

  10. Enough Abuse UK , I am a former music teacher and we totally support your petition and happy to sign up. We contacted Chethams 3 times over the last 3 years in regard to our specific training which flushes out how to recognize grooming and the abuser behaviour and we were ignored. Little point in being sorry now except the deep sadness we feel for the victims and their families. 1 to1 tuition is ALWAYS high risk . There is such arrogance and denial in this sector it is time issues were revealed. Good luck to you & well done

  11. Louise Williams says:

    I would like to sign

  12. Steve Hawker says:

    I was a student at Wells Cathedral School in 1987-89 and will sign.

  13. Charlotte Elkins says:

    I would like to sign the petition. I was at Chet’s 1991-1993.

  14. Daniel Roberts says:

    I’m signing!

  15. Jeremy Williams says:

    I was at Wells Cathedral School. I will sign.

  16. Mandy Byrne says:

    Undoubtedly will sign.

  17. Yuen Yum San Williams says:

    I was at Wells Cathedral School for five years. I am currently involved in education in Australia. I will sign.

  18. Joyce Tammo says:

    I will sign. Went to Purcell School, 1986-1988.

  19. beth mcninch says:

    I’d like to sign please

  20. Vivien Vernede says:

    I will sign

  21. Elaine Green says:

    I will sign

  22. Leo Nicholson says:

    I’ll sign happily. Purcell 99-01 and Chets 01-02.

  23. Deirdre O'Leary says:

    Yes I’d like to sign. RNCM 1990-94.

  24. ianpace says:

    Many thanks to all of you for your support for this – I am adding you all to a rapidly expanding list of signatories. Please do circulate this further amongst any other potentially interested paties.

  25. I was at Chets 87-91. I will sign.

  26. Jean Watkins says:

    I will sign.

  27. brendanball says:

    I’ll sign the petition. I studied at Chetham’s from 1981-84.

  28. Adi Ward says:

    Ex pupil of one of the Chets and RNCM teachers in question and ex RCM student. Whilst I never had a bad experienced I feel I should sign this petition on behalf of my peers who did.

  29. brendanball says:

    Reblogged this on Brendan Ball's Blog and commented:
    Please sign and share this petition. Support for this campaign is gathering momentum in an unprecedented manner. Help to make real change happen…

  30. Jane Ginsborg says:

    I will sign, as parent of pupil at Purcell 99-01 and Chet’s 01-02, also guardian of pupil at Chet’s 06-11.

  31. Rick Standley says:

    I will sign. RAM 1978-1982 and worked in Manchester (BBC PO) 1982-1989

  32. Marianne Thorsen says:

    I was at Purcell 1983-84 and 1987-89. Fully support this enquiry and would like to sign.

  33. evieanderson says:

    Where do I sign?! I was at the Purcell School from 1988 to 92.

  34. James Erber says:

    I will sign, as a concerned individual.

  35. Sophia Miettunen says:

    RNCM 1989-1993. I will definately sign..

  36. cellowalker says:

    I would like to sign this is extremely important petition. I was a student at Wells Cathedral School (1990-1995), RNCM (1995-1999) and RCM (1999-2000). I was also a friend and colleague of Frances Andrade and her immense courage in fighting this cause must never be forgotten. The people responsible for such repulsive actions and in particular the people who covered it up MUST be held accountable. On behalf of every musician that has or will attend a specialist music institution thank you so so much for your support.

  37. CHARLES WALKER says:

    As parents of a previous student at a specialist school, and at the RNCM – which is behaving abominably in allowing Layfield to continue taking his salary – we are shocked and dismayed at the recent revelations. We are particularly shocked at the cover-ups and the head in the sand attitudes of past and present Principals. How can loving parents, who only want the best for their talented children, have any confidence in the safety of their off-spring in such institutions? The whole music-teaching profession, filled with dedicated and talented teachers, will be demonised as a result of a few who thought their talent and prestige placed them above morality and the law. We must push for total disclosure and maximum sanctions, for the sake of both the children and the vast majority of the music-teaching profession. C. Walker

  38. Jonathan Barrett says:

    I will sign.

  39. Judith Busbridge says:

    I will sign

  40. Kate Skeet says:

    I’d like to sign. I didn’t attend a specialist music school myself, although a lot of my NYO (88-91) friends did. I’m now a strings teacher myself and I know there are still some ‘dodgy’ teachers practising, despite the increased protection these days.

  41. Tierney Kirby says:

    I will sign

  42. Cathy Giles says:

    I will sign. I would also like to draw your attention to another music teacher, Michael Crombie. He taught music at Beal Grammar School for Girls between 1967 and 1971, when I was a pupil there. See one of many links: . This was a second sentence after a trial in 2010 when he was found guilty on 20+ charges of indecent assault dating back to the 1990s and sentenced to a 7 year custodial term. After this, many more victims came forward telling of abuse dating back to 1964. A further 87 charges were made against him. It is not only in specialist music boarding schools that pupils were/are victims of sexual abuse.

  43. Julia Chellel says:

    I will sign

  44. Notiko Moffat says:

    I will sign this petition and fully support the important enquiry as a mother of 15years old daughter who does enjoys studying piano.

  45. Fiona Higham says:

    I totally support this campaign .

  46. Fenella says:

    Fenella Barton I was at Wells Cathedral School and the RNCM.

  47. ianpace says:

    Many thanks to all of you for your support – if anyone has details to add in terms of years they were at any institution, please do add them below.

  48. […] distinguished Chet s alumni as the pianist Paul Lewis and the oboist and conductor Nicholas Daniel. Here3 is the text of the […]

  49. Rachel Roberts says:

    I wil sign. I was at Chet’s 1987-89, RNCM 1989 – 1993.

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