Time For Change

Very important reflections on specialist music education in the wake of the Layfield trial by Alison Moncrieff-Kelly


It’s been an extraordinary few weeks for anyone who is interested in historic and systemic abuse in music education. If you are really interested in this huge subject, then you will probably have been following the issues for longer than the recent headline-grabber, Malcolm Layfield’s trial for rape, for which he was found not guilty, though admitted in court to sexual relations with girls aged 17 and 18 when he taught at Chetham’s School of Music. Let’s suppose, though, that for many people, especially people from outside of the very niche world that is specialist education in classical music, they have heard only of this case and possibly that of former Director of Music at Chetham’s, Michael Brewer, who was jailed for six years in 2013 for the sexual abuse of Frances Andrade from the age of 14, a case which made headlines after Andrade tragically took her own life…

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One Comment on “Time For Change”

  1. An interesting piece indeed (the handful of typos notwithstanding!) – but what to do?

    There is undoubtedly (I think) a place for the kinds of specialist music education establishments such as those (espeically Chets) that have come under the spotlight in recent times over various forms of abuse and alleged abuse occurring within their walls, just as there is, of course, no place whatsoever for that kind of abuse anywhere, let alone in the kinds of institution under fire, wherein the various potentially problematic circumstances all come together.

    What to do? Well, the universal, diligent and disciplined application at all times of the Pace rules would in my view go a long way, especially if such were to be duly and independently monitored to ensure compliance. One of the worst possible outcomes of publicity about all of this (which is nevertheless as vitally necessary as its subject is unwelcome) is that certain powers that be use it as an excuse to consider cutting back on expenditure on music education, using what we already know and what is still coming to light as their excuse for so doing; God forbid that this should start to happen.

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