Publication of Reports into Chetham’s by ISI and MCC – Senior Management and Governors should consider their positionPosted: April 3, 2013 Filed under: Abuse, Chetham's, Musical Education, Specialist Music Schools 21 Comments
The reports by the Independent Schools Inspectorate and Manchester City Council on Chetham’s School of Music, prepared in the wake of the conviction of Michael Brewer and publication of wider alarming allegations of widespread abuse at the school, have now been published – they are both attached to this blog post. See also the reports in the Manchester Evening News and The Guardian as well as a discussion on the blog of Norman Lebrecht. The response from Chetham’s is here.
The situation they describe is grave: I quote the following from the ISI report:
On Child protection policy generally:
Discussions with staff indicated that not all are clear about the process to be followed when concerns are reported or allegations made, and the procedures specified by the school are not always implemented in practice – for example, the safeguarding concerns form is not always completed and informal discussions are held instead.
Parents’ views – in response to survey carried out recently by the school about music experiences provided by school and progress made by children in music:
Approximately one-third of parents responded, the majority positively, but a very small minority of parents indicated their dissatisfaction with the information they are given about their child’s progress in instrumental tuition, a factor mentioned at the time of the previous ISI inspection. Comments from parents in response to the ISI questionnaire confirmed that this remains an issue.
On Child Inspection regulatory requirements:
At the time of the inspection visit, the school’s child protection policy was found to cover most of the requirements which are the duties of proprietors of independent schools. However, the school’s written policy is not suitably comprehensive and has not been properly implemented.
And from the MCC report:
Section 4.1 (b) (viii)
No evidence was provided of any formal, minuted governing body/school committee meetings called so that leaders and governors could reflect on the implications of recent allegations in connection with the school, carry out appropriate scrutiny, audit and self evaluation and consider the need to conduct a comprehensive review of current safeguarding policies, procedures and practice;
There was no evidence to confirm that governors had sought assurances about current safeguarding arrangements, given the context of recent allegations, resulting in convictions and arrests of individuals connected with the school. A current employee was arrested on 14th February 2013 in relation to an historic allegation, is presently suspended and is the subject of
ongoing police investigation.
There are inconsistencies in relation to the CPO, designated governor for safeguarding and the head of academic music’s understanding of school policy and procedures for teaching at the home of a tutor. This ranges from an understanding that pupils ‘wouldn’t ever have home tuition’, to it is not encouraged or sanctioned by the school and would only be agreed and arranged by parents, to if there was an exceptional circumstance that required teaching at the home of a tutor, there would be a risk assessment completed and parental consent sought. No reference is made to home tuition in the staff, pupil or parents handbooks. During interviews with pupils some pupils stated that home tuition regularly takes place.
It was the view of some pupils however, that there was little point in raising issues or concerns because they would not be listened to or acted upon. This was borne out in the pupils’ response to the ISI questionnaire. 36% of pupils responded negatively to the statement: ‘the school asks for my opinions and responds to them’, when a negative response of more than 20% is seen as significant by the ISI.
The named governor for safeguarding has been identified as the person other than a parent, outside the boarding and teaching staff of the school, who pupils can talk to if they feel the need. No reference is made of this in the pupil or parent handbooks. When pupils were asked about who, other than a parent/guardian they could turn to, some pupils cited the named governor for safeguarding, others did not know about such a person and one pupil referred to them as ‘some random person’ that they were told to contact if they needed to and added that they were told about this person in a recent assembly.
The Local Authority saw little evidence that the Governing body/school committee have sufficiently held the senior leaders of the school to account regarding providing assurances that the current arrangements for safeguarding are actually being implemented, applied robustly, monitored appropriately or evaluated effectively. In the context of recent convictions, allegations and ongoing police investigations, where extra assurances would be expected, this is a cause for concern.
6.2 Arrangements are present to promote a culture and climate of effective safeguarding at Chetham’s School of Music but the arrangements are not routinely and reliably implemented, robustly applied, monitored or evaluated by the senior leadership team, governors and Feoffees. This demonstrates inadequate oversight of safeguarding by the proprietors and therefore the Local Authority is not confident about the overall effectiveness of the leadership and governance of safeguarding arrangements in the school.
6.3 The Feoffees as proprietors of the school have not effectively discharged their duties with respect to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils. They have not ensured that the Headteacher has fulfilled her duties for the effective implementation of the school’s policies and procedures in regard to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils.
6.4 It is our view that in similar circumstances, in a state-maintained school setting, the nature of these findings, including the current context referred to in 6.1 above, would lead us to invite the chair of governors or trustees to a formal review meeting to discuss the capacity for governance and senior leadership to address the failings identified.
On Chetham’s website, they say the following, defensively:
Unfortunately we believe the time allowed for the Review was insufficient. We have made detailed written representations and submitted further documentation to both MCS and the ISI, seeking meetings with both organisations to discuss these points in detail. There is enormous interest in the School at the current time and it is imperative that Chetham’s, and all students, staff and parents associated with it, are treated and represented accurately.
In addition to further dialogue with the ISI and MCS, we will be seeking a meeting with the Department for Education to discuss the Review’s findings and share a detailed action plan to demonstrate how we are remedying the issues highlighted.
Much of what is detailed in the reports concurs with what I have heard from a variety of parents and recent pupils; and there are plenty of allegations suggesting that there have been dire consequences of these inadequacies. I can also disclose the following statement from the Department of Education (forwarded to me by Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4 News and reproduced with permission) following these reports:
“Schools have a legal and moral duty to protect children in their care. It is clear from the Independent Schools Inspectorate and Manchester City Council’s reports of their joint visit that the standard of care at Chethams school must be improved.
“Today (Tuesday) under section 165(3) of the Education Act 2002, we have served a notice requiring the school to produce an action plan setting out what it will do to meet the regulatory standards. The law requires the school to produce an action plan to set out how it will address the deficiencies the ISI inspection identified.
“Chethams now has until May to produce the action plan — if the plan is inadequate the Education Secretary has powers to remove the school from the register of independent schools.”
The Senior Management and Governorship of Chetham’s have not reacted appropriately to the grave situation affecting the school at present, nor to very real concerns about safeguarding and pastoral care. It is time for them to consider their position carefully, in order for the future of the school to be protected.
This latter call is backed by the following:
Ruth Boulton, nee Butler
Harvey John Brown
Maxine Molin Rose
Anyone else wishing to support this call, please either leave a message here or e-mail me at email@example.com, and I will add your name to the list. This list of signatories will also be sent to the DfE after the end of May 2013, alongside the main petition calling for an inquiry.
Greater Manchester Police are conducting an investigation into a variety of complaints of sexual abuse related to Chetham’s School of Music and a dedicated Operation called “Kiso” has been established to support this. As an organisation, we recognise that reporting sexual abuse, which occurred some time ago is an incredibly difficult thing to do and we will afford anyone who comes forward, all the appropriate support to discuss events in their own time. We would urge anyone who wishes to report abuse or with information, to contact Greater Manchester Police on 0161 856 6777 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, persons who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 .
Thank you very much for taking the trouble to post these deeply distressing reports and your responses to them in such detail.
I would certainly consider adding my name in support of this call, my only current reservation being that I wonder if it might be premature for me to do so at this stage before the ongoing police investigation has completed and its report been published, not least because that report might itself in any case ultimately signal the writing on the wall for that Senior Management and Governorship, especially if their alleged lack of due co-operation with that police investigation turns out to be endorsed in the anticipated police report.
I hesitate to take up yet more of your time on this, but I will appreciate your comments on this before I decide to proceed with adding my name to this.
Many thanks once again.
the threat from the DoE to remove Chetham’s from its register of independent schools will distress anyone with personal connections to Chets. although I find it hard to imagine that the school would be so negligent as to allow such a threat to be realised, i am disturbed not only by the facts that have recently come to light but also by the attitude apparently shown by the school’s official statements. these in my view seem overly keen to reassure at the expense of acknowledging the failings that have evidently taken place, in particular those that have taken place more recently as evidenced by the reports you quote. i would therefore be happy to add my name in support of any move to make it clear to the powers-that-be at Chetham’s that many people are invested in the reputation of the school which they are in charge of, and that this is not the time for any sort of arse-covering, face-saving or foot-dragging.
of course this is not primarily a question of safeguarding the school’s reputation but of providing adequate protection for vulnerable children. this means employing people to work at the school who actually have an emotionally and ethically based understanding of the need for this protection, as opposed to those who will do no more than tick the boxes or bow to the rules under constraint. those who lack the emotional maturity or ego-strength to work with young people without subjecting them to some form of abuse should not be let anywhere near them. there are plenty of gifted and relationally capable musicians out there who understand what teaching is about, and the more a school like Chets gets its act together now the more there are likely to be in future.
Please add my name to the list. Thank you for all your efforts.
I agree with the posters listed above. Please add me to the list
Yes please add me to the list.
Maxine Molin Rose
OK, Ian; notwithstanding my remarks in my earlier post which was the first response to your piece here, please add my name to the list; I’ve given it a lot of thought and, as a consequence, have concluded, among other things, that if it’s good enough for DoE to issue the notice that it has done (and of which I had no knowledge when you posted first in this thread), then it’s good enough for me to endorse this call. Sorry for my tardiness on this, but I do like to try to think first before acting – which is what I wish, for the sake of the victims, that certain others of abusive bent had done in this entire sorry saga…
Please add my name Ian
the call for Claire moreland and other senior staff to consider their positions carefully can be nothing more than sensational. She has done everything by the book, the book given to her by the GMP (early statement of hers says very clearly that GMP have advised her to keep quiet. She is not omniscient but as far as i can see she has been transparent to parents, as far as can be expected in such a sensitive case. She had inspectors in and im sure she will act on their findings. Any school would have flaws when put under such close scrutiny (Remember Chets has sailed through recent inspections up until now). I fail to see how pressuring such a caring and dedicated head will help anyone at chets
In this case the school has been found wanting to such an extent that the Department of Education has told it to get its house in order within a month, or face the possibility of being struck off the register of independent schools. And the list of inadequacies on the reports is grave (as posted above). I could see many a head teacher of a state school resigning of considerably less.
Please add my name
Please add my name.
Add me to the list please.
I would like my name to be added to the other signatories. Thanks!
Hi Ian….please add my name to your list….musical prowess is no cloak to hide behind or excuse for predatory behaviour of any kind…….thanks to you and your colleagues for giving us all a nudge to step up and add our voices!….
Hi Ian, you can add my name to the list, thank you.
After much thought on the subject I have come to the conclusion that bad Management is the last thing needed at the School right now, and the some of the current team of senior staff and Governors have been found guilty of that.
Hi Ian – please add me in. I really appreciate the effort and concern you are giving this on all our behalf.
I have been holding off from signing this, partly because I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the individuals being challenged whatever the reasons, partly because I thought they may well step down anyway or effect some huge change in attitude and partly because it just seemed a bit drastic at the time. Having since digested what led to this petition being launched and what has transpired since, it seems unavoidable that on-going concern for any victims, the pupils and the school have to come before sympathy for individuals. The management and governors have shown no signs of reconsidering their positions or stepping down. The report results are disturbing as is the whole situation for many reasons, yet they have barely changed tack at all. They do not appear to be genuinely acknowledging and engaging with the serious problems or those who are concerned about them, for whom they and their supporters appear to have little or no respect. Instead there has been this shocking spin put on everything, and some quite shocking views expressed by supporters of the current management too. Pretending that problems do not exist or attacking those who are discussing them does not make them go away. This is all really worrying and can only be doing more damage to the school. There seems no other way forward now but this drastic measure. Sorry it took me this long, Ian, and please add my name.
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