Prestigious music school considers reputation ‘more important than victims of sexual abuse’, according to damning report

A prestigious Manchester music school has come under fire in a damning report which concluded ‘reputation is more important’ than investigating allegations of sexual abuse.

Chetham’s School of Music was one of many schools criticized in a new report on child sexual abuse.

The Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry looked at residential music schools, including schools in Chetham, and special schools, including the Royal School Manchester.

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The survey found that boarding schools were “the ideal environment for grooming”, with students being more dependent on the adults around them than in non-residential settings.

The report states: “In the specialist music schools examined, the power and influence of often revered and influential music teachers made some students even more vulnerable to sexual abuse by them.

“The reputations of musicians and schools were often seen as more important than their victims and potential victims when allegations were made or concerns were raised.

“The response has been similar when concerns have been raised about staff who are valued and generally respected in other school settings, in the independent and public sectors.”

Chetham School of Music has been criticized in a damning report

The inquest heard how former Chetham music director Michael Brewer was “a powerful figure, with complete autonomy in all matters relating to the music”.

He was jailed for six years in 2013 for sexually abusing former pupil Frances Andrade, who killed herself after giving evidence at her trial at Manchester Crown Court.

The inquest also heard that Christopher Ling, a violin teacher at Chetham who was employed by Brewer, had abused a number of pupils in his care, aged between nine and 15, in the 1980s.

Ling then committed suicide when he was about to be extradited from the United States to face charges in the United Kingdom.

A statement posted on Chetham’s website read: “Today our hearts go out to the victims and survivors. Our school can never apologize enough for the manner in which former guardians betrayed and manipulated the trust that was placed in them. been granted, and for failure to respond appropriately to instances of abuse in the past.

“This part of our history is a matter of deep, deep regret, now and always. For each survivor and for each person affected, we are sorry.

“We also know that apologies are not enough. We must ensure that no child will ever again suffer from the failures of residential schools as in the past.

“Thanks to the bravery of victims and survivors who have spoken out, this school is today a place where caring for students – their happiness, health and well-being – underpins our every thought and every action we take.Today, we renew our commitment as a school to offer a benchmark in safeguarding.

“We fully agree with the findings of the report and its recommendations for better protection across the UK, covering inspection and enforcement, guardianship, regulation of boarding schools and the specialist nature of protection in this environment. We also support calls for mandatory reporting legislation to further strengthen UK protection standards.

Michael Brewer, former director of music at Chetham’s School of Music

“National change must follow this report. We pledge to continue striving to play a leading role in driving this change by sharing lessons learned from our past experiences with education leaders from other schools and institutions. We will work for the good of children everywhere, not just those in our care.

“None of this work can fix past failures, but we will do everything in our power to ensure that young people in the UK are safer and better protected today than they were before. “

The report made seven recommendations to improve protection in schools, including establishing nationally accredited standards and levels of protection training in schools, and making the highest level of protection mandatory for leaders. institution and designated protection officers.

Professor Alexis Jay, who chaired the survey, said: ‘Schools play a central role in the lives of almost nine million children in England and half a million in Wales.

“They should be places of learning where children are nurtured by trusted teachers and can thrive in a safe environment.

“This stands in contrast to the many shocking cases of child sexual abuse detailed in this report. They represent the opposite of everything a school should be.

“Poor leadership has often left staff unaware of how to respond to concerns about sexual abuse or too scared of the potential consequences to act.

“In some cases, it was clear that protecting the school’s reputation took priority over protecting children from sexual abuse.”

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