Alun Jones to be new Head of Chetham’s – and a list of SMS Heads and Music Directors

The following letter sent to Chetham’s students has been posted on the blog of Norman Lebrecht, and I reproduce it here.



Dear Students,

The School is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Alun Jones as the new Head of Chetham’s School of Music.  Mr Jones will take up his post from 1st September 2016, following the retirement of Mrs Claire Moreland after 17 years’ exceptional service to the School.

Mr Jones has been the Head of St. Gabriel’s School, Newbury since 2001 and is the current President of the Girls’ Schools Association,  representing the heads of many of the top performing day and boarding schools in the UK independent schools sector.  A former Choral Scholar, freelance singer and ad-hoc member of BBC Singers, Mr Jones began his teaching career at The Cathedral School, Llandaff and The United College of the Atlantic, St Donats Castle.  Following positions as a Music Master & Choirmaster, Director of Studies and Deputy Headmaster in GSA boarding and day schools, Mr Jones was appointed Principal at St Gabriel’s, Newbury in 2001.  Alongside headship, Mr Jones has been a Team Inspector for the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI) since 2002 and is a Director on the ISI Board.

Mr Jones said “I am looking forward tremendously to joining Chetham’s School of Music in September and was thrilled to be appointed to the rôle.  It will be a privilege to join a school with such a fine reputation nationally and internationally and I relish the challenges that the job will bring.”

Dame Sandra Burslem, the Chair of Governors, said “Our recruitment process was extensive and thorough and the School has appointed an outstanding Head to lead Chetham’s through the next stages of the School’s exciting developments.  I know that the whole School community will join with me in welcoming Mr Jones.”

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

chethams 3

Mrs Sarah Newman

In general, Head Teachers of Specialist Music Schools (SMSs) have often not themselves been musicians (with a few exceptions); Jones is the first musician to occupy this position at Chetham’s. I have compiled a list of both Head Teachers and Directors of Music at all the five SMSs in the UK, and reproduce this below for reference purposes. If there are any errors here that anyone notices, I would be most grateful if they could let me know, and I will correct them.

Founded: 1962 as The Central Tutorial School for Young Musicians, renamed in 1973

Head Teachers: (‘Principals’):
Irene Forster (1962-1968) – cellist, co-founder of the school
Rufus Vanderspar (Acting Principal, 1968-1969?)
Doris Burchell (1969-1970) – previously Headmistress of Camden School for Girls, 1946-1969
Rufus Vanderspar (Acting Principal, 1970-1971)
Richard Taylor (1971-1983)
John Bain (1983-1999) – formerly Housemaster at Cranleigh School
John Tolputt (1999-2007) – formerly Headmaster at Rendcomb School
Peter Crook (2007-2011)
David Thomas (2012-present) – formerly Headmaster at Reigate Grammar School

Directors of Music:
John Bate (1962?-1969)
Graham Treacher (1969-1972)
Lenore Reynell (1972-c. 1982)
Colin Howard (c. 1982-1985)
Colin Durrant (1985-1987)
David Vinden (1988-1995)
Jeffrey Sharkey (1996-2001)
Quentin Poole (2001-post abolished in 2013)


Founded: 1963

Head Teachers:
Anthony Brackenbury (1963-1975) – from Bryanston School and a London comprehensive
Peter Renshaw (1975-1983) – formerly Education Lecturer, University of Leeds
Three short-term heads between 1984 and 1987: Dr. John Lazarus, Mary Henderson, Kevin Jones
Nicholas Chisholm (1987-2010) – previously Head of Classics and Housemaster at Hurstpierpoint College
Richard Hillier (2010-present) – previously Headmaster at Oratory Preparatory School, Oxfordshire

Directors of Music:
Marcel Gazelle (1963-1969)
Robert Masters (1969-1981)
Peter Norris (1980-1987)
Stephen Potts (1988-1998)
Malcolm Singer (1998-present)


Founded: 1969 (as specialist music school)

Head Teachers:
Harry Vickers (1969-1974) – House Governor for Chetham’s Hospital School since 1949
John Vallins (1974-1992) – formerly Housemaster and Head of English at Cranleigh School
Peter Hullah (1992-1999) – formerly Chaplain at The King’s School, Canterbury. Later Bishop of Ramsbury
Claire Moreland (1999-2016) – formerly Deputy Head and Housemistress of Rugby School
Alun Jones (2016-)

Directors of Music:
Gerald Littlewood (1969-1975)
Michael Brewer (1975-1994)
Stephen Threlfall (1994-present day)


Founded: 1970 (specialist music scheme)

Head Teachers:
Alan Quilter (1972-1986)
John Baxter (1986-2000)
Elizabeth Cairncross (2000-present) – formerly Deputy Head at Christ’s Hospital School

Directors of Music:
William Whittle (1963-1981)
Richard Hickman (1981-1985)
Timothy Goulter (1985-1989)
Angus Watson (1989- before 1999)
Dorothy Nancekievill (at least since 1999-2015)
Mark Stringer (2015-present)


Founded: 1972 (as specialist music school)

Head Teachers
The Revd J.F. Styles (1972-1973) – Precentor of St Mary’s Cathedral
Reynold Elder (1973-1976)
Carolyn Coxon (1976-1979) – professional singer
Philip Allison (1979-1995)
Jennifer Rimer (1996-2012) – formerly principal music teacher at St David’s High, Dalkeith
Kenneth Taylor (2013-present) – formerly Deputy Head, Biggar High School

Directors of Music:
Dennis Townhill (1972-1976)
Carolyn Coxon (1976-1980)
Nigel Murray (1980-1996)
John Grundy (1996-2007)
Francis Cummings (2007-2011)
Paul Stubbings (2011-present)