Contact details for Greater Manchester Police relating to Chetham’sPosted: April 11, 2013 Filed under: Abuse, Chetham's, Specialist Music Schools 21 Comments
I am posting the following here on the blog, as requested by Greater Manchester Police. Please do go forward if you have any information which could affect Operation Kiso.
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, email@example.com. Alternatively, persons who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.
Does this not confirm that the Chets allegations are ‘historic’ as stated by the school? As the police statement says:
‘As an organisation, we recognise that reporting sexual abuse, which occurred some time ago is an incredibly difficult thing to do’
But Ian continues to demand the resignations of Staff and Governors who were not in office at the time and writes elsewhere (slipped disc) in a way that smears the current school and is continuing to deeply upset students
Don’t jump to conclusions on the strength of one phrase taken out of context Charles. Just as one example, a current member of staff has been suspended following arrest. He has been on the staff from 96 until his arrest in fFebruary… hardly historic.. Furthermore Claire Morelamd herself confirmed that the police were investigating more recent cases. Please keep up to date.
I agree that a currently serving staff member is involved but I am under the impression that what is being investigated is before Ms Moreland’s time. It also seems to relate to something that is today illegal but was legal at that time (and I don’t want to publicly go nearer to the case than that).
Having said that, the paperwork and policies and communication about Child Safety seems to need tightening up and that is being done which is the case in many schools up and won the country. Also sadly, all the detailed processes in place are still not a defence against those determined to abuse children. The best defence is the constant awareness of staff to any clue that a child might be signalling a problem, kids being able to talk to someone when they need to, and all professionals being aware of any hints in the behaviour of colleagues.
The only – very small number – of issues that exist at Chets may relate to the upsets which occur when progress in music does not seem to working and that can be distressing for pupil, staff and parents who have the highest hopes and expectations.
As detailed in Helen Pidd’s article in The Guardian on March 26th, 2013, ‘However, the Guardian understands that officers from the public protection division at Greater Manchester police are looking into allegations of sexual abuse and impropriety at the school as recently as 2006’.
Thank you for your very accurate comments about Child Safety – no amount of paperwork policies can safeguard as well as staff awareness and vigilance – something I am concerned is still severely lacking at certain schools.
However, in regards to the matter of the abuse being historic, here are a few comments from someone who was abused in the 1990s by a teacher who is still teaching (despite being investigated in the early 2000s following other complaints).
Abuse has never been legal regardless of the ‘age of consent’. (What Malcolm Layfield did to the girls who were aged 16 and over was not consensual – they were groomed and abused).
It is very hard for a victim to report abuse at the time: it is only now, in my 30s, that I have been able to do so.
There are still a lot of teachers at the schools who were there when I (and many others) were being abused. If they didn’t care or notice the abuse then, how are they caring for their pupils now?
It is well know that abusers do not stop unless they are stopped by an external force.
This is why the inquiry Ian is calling for is so very important.
Thank you anonymous for your sensible comments. Am I right in thinking this awful experience was not at Chets? , it could be misinterpreted.
In any event some folks might be helped and re-assured that these days (unlike 20 years ago) there is a very clear procedure to follow when any abuse accusation is made. The School, Police, Social workers all have to work together to investigate and the member of staff involved has to be suspended pending a decision on whether any credible evidence exists. Often this wrecks the careers of the innocent(there are many) but it also protects children. As a Chair of Governors in Cornwall I am well aware and trained in these matters and hope I never have to deal with such a case, but even in a small village school we follow the rulebook to the letter.
One member of staff at Chets is suspended (for allegations relating to some years ago) and that is the case to which I referred, I didn’t mean to imply the Layfield case. The fact of no other suspensions makes the Guardian report about investigating other case ( a G source claims) seem very odd. If the police do have evidence of current scandal they must follow the procedure I have described. The G would not be the first newspaper to misled by a ‘source’
If you are wrong, Charles (could you allow that this is a possibility?) you would not be the first parent to be misled by a head. I find it utterly amazing that such an innocuous (and yet very important) post could inflame your wrath in this way. Are you intimidating victims on purpose or are you just naturally unpleasant? Ian I would like to register my wish for people like this to be excluded from this forum. They are spouting off this poison in enough other places already. Please lets have an area for sensible compassionate discussion of abuse and let them watch if they want but not speak.
Free speech is so important. This opportunity to gather views is very valuable.
Whether or not Charles is wrong (although “wrong” is a loaded word and perhaps “not fully informed” might be more accurate), I don’t see his comments as intimidating. Parents of Chets pupils have a lot invested in what’s currently happening, and as the police investigation unfolds, parents will no doubt have a lot of conflicting emotions. They too will be suffering/worrying/doubting about the suggestion that their children may have been affected, or may still be vulnerable. People’s reaction varies – some may deny there’s a problem, some may become angry, “opposing camps” may emerge even though there is a common concern for the welfare of their children. It must be hard to deal with and I think parents have as much right to participate in the conversation if their interest is genuine and they are polite, which it seems Charles is.
Over 20 years on I have still not talked to my parents about the abuse I went through. As “Anonymous” suggests, its an incredibly painful thing to do. My parents would be right to be worried, and if their reaction to the current media attention was one of denial, I would understand that – its a natural response. In the end the truth will out, as the machinery of police investigations and media reporting continue in their own time. But until then, parents like Charles have my sympathy (so long as they can remain sympathetic to those brave enough to tell their story as “Anonymous” has).
Thank you for your measured comments – have been analysing my comments earlier to work out how I so badly upset someone and end up being accused of being an abuse denier. I can assure anyone reading that, in my role as a Chair of Governors. let alone, former teacher, parent, former Councillor, I would be the first to want to expose and sort out any child abuse that existed in any institution in which I had a say. The main point I am trying to make (please read all my posts) is that we do need to let those investigating the current situation the time and space to do their job. If it turns out that I am wrong and abuse in the current era exists then I would be the first to demand appropriate action.
I just don’t believe that petitions, demands for people to resign, and speculation help anyone at the present time especially the current generation, who my daughter and friends who are studying hard to complete their course and prepare to go to higher things next academic year.
And to those who have suffered I do understand the agony you are going through and pray that you will can find a way through it all.
Everyone has a right to their view, and I’m not blocking them on that basis, especially not on the instructions of someone using a pseudonym. Arguments are to be addressed and challenged where so required, not censored.
Charles – your faith in the current management and their clumsy and misguided PR does you credit, but please check your facts.
GMP has expanded its manpower on Operation Kiso to encompass current issues at the school. I don’t know exactly what they are (I wish I did – because I am pretty nervous about my child returning for the summer term) but know it involves a complaint about psychological abuse by a current instrumental tutor and pastoral neglect, and that a number of parents have approached the police – this was several weeks ago, before the Brewer verdict.
Since the inspection reports have been published, Paul Copplestone, the officer leading Operation Kiso, has confirmed that the police are actively looking into issues raised by the inspection reports, and they are meeting with ISI, MCC Children’s Services etc. Why don’t you call him and see what you can find out?
No, not my role to go ringing the police. Please read again my previous posting about the way these things get handled and what MUST take place if there are any credible accusations against a member of staff. Disputes about the way a tutor works are professional/parental issues that need sorting out of course, but they are utterly different to Child Protection. I assume that as a parent you will be taking up the opportunity to meet with senior staff when returning your child to school this weekend and raise all these matters personally.
Apols to all else interested but I am going to refrain in future from discussing these things with anonymous folks who may be absolutely anyone.
Charles, have you seen this article? http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/apr/22/abuse-allegations-school-teachers-reporting?INTCMP=SRCH
Great. I wasn’t interested.
Charles – if these issues are professional/parental why are the police now involved in them? I don’t think the lines are nearly as clear cut as you imagine. The point is that if parents felt that the senior staff had dealt properly with these issues in the past they would not now be complaining to regulators or indeed going to the police. Do you think Chetham’s attracts the most belligerent and awkward parents in the country, or do you think there might actually be something wrong with the way parents’ queries and complaints get dealt with? I used to think it was just me – that was certainly what the school told me – but I have to say you are the first parent who has said he has had no issues and that his contact with the senior staff has been all sweetness and light. In fact in the past few days I have heard stories of pastoral neglect, abrogation of basic educational duties and incredible arrogance and rudeness that leave my own experiences looking relatively benign. The longer the senior staff stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine, the more damage will be done to current pupils and the future viability of the school. Already parents are voting with their feet. I can’t believe there is another school in the country which is under investigation or scrutiny from 5 different regulators – ISI, DfE, MCC Children’s services, Ofsted and GMP – that would be so out of touch with reality as to insist that all the problems are “historic”.
Charles, you should read the post calling for senior management and governors to consider their position more carefully – https://ianpace.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/publication-of-reports-into-chethams-by-isi-and-mcc-senior-management-and-governors-should-consider-their-position/ – it comes out of the ISI and MCC reports, the findings in which are serious enough for the DfE to threaten the school with being removed from the register of independent schools if they do not come up with a satisfactory plan within a month. This comes out of entirely independent reports, and really does take the school to the brink like never before – it is for that reason that those in charge should take some responsibility for arriving in this situation, rather than responding with a plethora of spin and denial. To restore confidence in the institution, a clean pair of hands, with the honesty and integrity to admit that there may have been very grave mistakes over a long period, and proceed with a genuine openness to the possibility of reform, is needed.
Where does abuse start, Charles?
If a teacher repeatedly humiliates a student in front of others, is that abuse? Or pushing for better performance? If a teacher criticises again and again until a student is in tears, is that abuse? Or is the student just not up to it? If a teacher denies a student opportunities (a masterclass, a performance, an ensemble place) because the student has been critical of the teacher, is that abuse? Or a reasonable response by a professional?
All too often awful teacher behaviour is excused and even defended by Chetham’s senior management. And it is the failure of the managers and governors to act effectively in these cases that in the end creates the dark spaces exploited by the likes of Brewer, Layfield, and others.
Points well made but I think we have a problem with the way the word abuse is used in different contexts. In your context, yes it is abuse which should be dealt with by professional managers – in my teaching career I occasionally cam across subject teachers in a classroom that behaved in this kind of way. What you describe is very upsetting, needs sorting out and such teachers should do something else in life. But it is not sexual abuse to be dealt with by the Child Protection process I have described.
I just don’t follow the logic of your second paragraph. Those who successfully groom children are surely not the ones who behave unreasonably in the way you describe. Aren’t they more likely to be the ones who encourage, compliment and try to take them over by building their esteem and making pupils reliant?
Having said all that, any parent who has a complaint should go through all possible routes to get things sorted out, including the Governors who don’t seem to be minuted as fulfilling their role in the way Schools generally are expected to (mine has just past an Ofsted with flying colours and as Chair I had to provide minutes to prove we had all this running properly)
Charles, you mention that you don’t see how teachers who “behave unreasonably” might be grooming children. A little googling might help you. The Wikipedia article on child grooming indicates the kind of befriending you mention to make pupils reliant. But there is also a link at the bottom to their Psychological Manipulation page, (which is what grooming is). As with the carrot and the stick, it outlines various methods by which manipulators control their victims; some examples:
” Positive reinforcement: includes praise, superficial charm, superficial sympathy (crocodile tears), excessive apologizing, money, approval, gifts, attention, facial expressions such as a forced laugh or smile, and public recognition.
Negative reinforcement: involves removing one from a negative situation as a reward, e.g. “You won’t have to do your homework if you allow me to do this to you.”
Traumatic one-trial learning: using verbal abuse, explosive anger, or other intimidating behavior to establish dominance or superiority; even one incident of such behavior can condition or train victims to avoid upsetting, confronting or contradicting the manipulator.
Shaming: Manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm. Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.”
These methods have been used by a minority of teachers in music schools, some of whom, like Chris Lyng, have been exposed. Unlike the classroom teaching context with which you are familiar, there is far more opportunity for psychological manipulation in instrumental teaching, as this shows (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/10/pupils-accuse-third-teacher-abuse-school):
‘Vicci Wardman, who worked as a senior lecturer at the RNCM between 1991 and 2000, said: “The one to one relationship between a tutor and student is one of the most powerful in a young musician’s development. Its very nature is intimate, detailed and precise, and most often conducted behind closed doors. The vast majority of tutors are excellent and inspirational, respecting the vulnerability and sensitivities of their students within this setting. Tragically, that very structure can also be an invitation to the sort of predators who up to now have operated freely within musical institutions. It is now undeniable that those who should have protected their students at Chet’s failed to do so, on the contrary ignoring and even promoting their abusers.”‘
Are there teachers who have committed abuse in the past and avoided conviction still teaching in music schools (as Anonymous says)? Are the people who Vicci Wardman says ignored and promoted abusers still around at Chetham’s? If such people had not committed a criminal offence, but were still on the board of Governors, trustees, or in a management position, what procedure would you as a parent of a Chets pupil use for removing them? Asking them nicely at the beginning of term, as you’ve suggested to Concerned Parent, might not work.
Ironically some methods of Psychological Manipulation listed on Wikipedia seem to describe standard procedure in P.R. (as to whether Chetham’s are taking P.R. advice, I don’t know):
” Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.
Denial: Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
Rationalization: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization is closely related to spin.
Selective inattention or selective attention: Manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it”.
Diversion: Manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
Projecting the blame (blaming others): Manipulator scapegoats in often subtle, hard-to-detect ways.”
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