Just in: Chetham’s head resigns

Just in: Chetham’s head resigns


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2015


Claire Moreland has sent the following email to staff and students: ‘I am writing to let you know that I will be retiring from Chetham’s School of Music on 31st August 2016 after 17 years as Head. I am sharing my decision with 18 months’ notice in order to liaise with the School Governors as they appoint my successor, and then to work with the new Head to lay the foundations for the next exciting phase for Chetham’s, not least involving our new world-class Concert Hall!

‘It has been a rare privilege to serve as Head of this unique establishment, and I would like to thank everyone sincerely for all the wonderful support I have received throughout my time here, support which has helped me to lead the School through much development and progress.’

Ms Moreland led the school through the period when its former head of music, Michael Brewer, was jailed for sexual assault on a pupil. A head of chorus, Nicholas Smith, was jailed for child abuse. Two more teachers, Malcolm Layfield and Wen Zhou Li, will go on trial in the next few weeks on charges of pupil rape. All the alleged offences took place before Ms Moreland’s headship, but the school’s failure to address past issues until Brewer was convicted raised questions of governance, past and present, about several English music schools.


Full story here from the Independent’s diligent Paul Gallagher.


  • Gwen says:

    Spinning like a dervish ’til the end.

  • Hilary says:

    Chets has had a troubled history of late.

  • A former employee says:

    Like so many who have worked recently at the London equivalent Specialist Music school in London (The Purcell),I do hope their current shoddy lot of hapless Governors are reading this announcement very carefully indeed.
    The parellels are frightening similar, for Purcell governors protected the previous disgraced Head, Peter Crook and supported his return to continue working [redacted].

    Without still admitting liability for their bad governance, they eventually had to let him go after a year of protest from some of the teaching staff who, rightly, considered him a continual threat to vulnerable pupils.

    These same foolish governors [redacted] then appoint a head, whose only legacy has been to find a way of deleting its highly regarded Director of Music of 25 years exemplary service and pretend the past mistakes didn’t happen.

    Job done, current head David Thomas, leaves The Purcell school, having brought it into disrepute in the wider musical education world during his brief two year tenure, in July, having himself, been unwilling to address past historical sexual abuse and bullying of those staff who challenged or questioned this irresponsible behaviour and appalling governance.

    It is well known by those who worked here, that despite the school pleading poverty and yet finding a small fortune to employ Head Hunters to help find them a new Head, it is seemingly becoming an impossible task, as prospective applicants refuse to be associated with such bad press and take over another music school, who have incorrectly claimed all sexual abuse of pupils is historical and therefore hasn’t happened since.

    We know different…….and so do they……and they would do well to recall recent sexual abuse investigations with a former accompanist [redacted], who, like ex Head Crook, was ‘suddenly removed ‘ from the school without explanation as reported on this very site at the time.

    With Ms Moreland’s long overdue, yet timely ‘resignation’, any Head hunter is going to wonder why two Headships of two major UK music schools are suddenly and simultaneously currently vacant……..
    Could it be both are guilty of covering up historical sexual child abuse?

  • A former employee says:

    Interesting that this shock announcement from Chets has coincided with the timely Easter shut down of the school.

    This is exactly the same tactic used at The Purcell School….

    Wait until the start of a long school holiday to announce staff departures, thus allowing the news to get buried and go unchallenged in the long school vacation thus creating limited damage liability……….

    Clever or Cunning?

  • Gwen says:

    Former Employee, if the governors at Purcell are irresponsible (hapless sounds too adorable) then sadly there is even more similarity with Chet’s.


    Two of the people involved with protecting Layfield at RNCM as described in article above are still on the board at Chetham’s.

    • A former employee says:

      Yes, Gwen, and 4 Purcell School Governors are still on their Governing body too, despite getting it very wrong with appointing 2 disasterous Headmasters in the last 6 years, and foolishly creating a sham redundancy scheme, to delete the crucial post of Director of Music, then demonstate the audacity and carelessness to think/ allow an amateur choirmaster & lapsed organist to take on the role, whilst also trying to be HeadMaster.
      No wonder both Music schools have such appalling reputations now in the music and educational worlds…. Their once glorious reputations, now in tatters as a result of bad Governance and arrogant attitudes from those Governors who think they know best for the music schools they claim to lead…..

  • A former employee says:

    What is it with these ignorant Governors of the disasterous Purcell School?…..
    Having recently spent thousands of pounds (£12k minimum) paying for a Head Hunting Company to ask everyone high up in music education, (including all the Heads of Junior Departments of the RAM, RCM, Trinity & Guildhall et al), they have come up with a pathetic shortlist for the recently advertised job of HeadMaster which includes none of the above!
    Instead, current Head & Axeman, David Thomas (famed for axing the crucial post of Director of Music at this MUSIC school in 2013, claiming the role himself as a very amateur and incompetent organist & choirmaster), has shortlisted his own appointed non musical colleague, James Harding (Historian), who is currently deputy Head, Ms Penny Rowles (who was brought in as a temp – and has now decided to withdraw her application), and current Head of the failing Exeter Cathedral Choir School with a music degree, but only experience of handling priviledged prep school children!….
    What a disasterous bunch of hapless candidates to try and save this failing music school whose previous choices of HeadMasters were equally mismatched (one a suspected paedophile moved on without explanation, the other, lasting a mere two years before jumping ship).

    Maybe the reputation of this Music school is at such an all time low, that no – one wants to take on such poisioned chalice?

    Staff room mutterings confirm that, despite claiming two years ago, the Purcell School could not afford a Director of Music due to overspending and mismanagement of school finances by the careless Bursar, they are suddenly, two years on, (the statutory two year gap from making apost redundant, before someone else can be re-appointed in the same role) having to find £50k+ again, and resurrect the post of DoM, now they intend to appoint a non musical HM……

    The DoM job spec is currently being drawn up at the moment, and will be advertised immediately another unsuitable and musically incompetent HeadMaster is appointed.

    These incompetent Governors want sacking, be made accountable, and join the shame of the Chets Governors for lying and covering up all the sexual scandals that have brought both international training schools into total disrepute.