Tenor becomes head of troubled Purcell School

Tenor becomes head of troubled Purcell School


norman lebrecht

June 20, 2018

The busiest guillotine in music education has just announced its next head.

The tenor Paul Bambrough will become principal of the Purcell School from September.


Presently vice-principal at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Bamborough is a tenor, harpsichordist and organist and has been an active teacher through his career.

More promising , we hear that the bursar, who has been implicated in recent Purcell upheavals, its taking retirement.



  • steven holloway says:

    That “More promising…” start to the last sentence rather suggests you don’t consider Bamborough a good choice. Do tell us why. It is so very easy to denigrate, or even defame, people when one writes so quickly in a context much focused upon personality, celebrity, commercial promotion, inevitable biases of the writer, etc., and far less upon research and reflection.

    • Robin says:

      Unfortunately this publication is very bitter and almost seems to have a vendetta against Purcell as per the persistent used of “troubled” even in a story with positive news.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        What here is positive? We’ve seen heads roll like logs over the past six years. If he survives two years, that will be a positive. There is no point in putting a positive spin on something that has not yet happened. Slipped Disc very much hopes that Purcell can surmount its persistent troubles.

        • steven holloway says:

          What I hope and think may well be positive is the appointment of Bamborough. There is, given his record, cause so to think. It would be nice if NL at least expressed hope along the same lines. Webistes are not capable of hoping anything, and so the expression of hope for the School reads like a bit of wiggling spin.

          • Vivien Easom says:

            There is always point putting a positive spin on things, NL, when living life as a musician. Wishing someone well on their new appointment would be a better place to start but not give you such a ‘Daily Mail’ style headline.

  • Robin says:

    More good news – Paul Hoskins appointed Director of Music of the not-so-troubled Purcell School.

  • ExPupil says:

    This poor man will need all the help God (and others) can give to take on this revived post, following it’s deletion five years ago, and the demise of three Headmasters since.

    As is well known (and widely reported), the Purcell School – a leading specialist UK music school, decided in 2013 to delete this crucial post, by claiming ‘restructuring of staff’ following speculation as to the unexplained reasons behind the sudden departure of it’s then Head Master, Peter Crook.(see coverage on this very site)

    Several brave members of staff blew the whistle on an outrageous cover up by the Governors, surrounding allegations (unsubstantiated) of Mr Crook’s predatory behaviour with sixth form boys, and were gradually dismissed as a result – costing the school over £300k in litigation and compromise (gagging) agreements to suppress the scandal.

    The then Director of Music, Quintin Poole, wasn’t identified as a whistleblower, but his partner, Ian Macmillan, with other highly regarded teachers, tried to expose the cover up, by challenging his own unfair dismissal led by the Bursar (simply for shouting at her and a pupil) in the County Court.
    The Bursar, (Aideen MacNamara, ( mercifully at last after all the damage she has done to the school now ‘retiring’) who introduced and led a campaign of spurious disciplinary procedures in an attempt to discipline and dismiss those who dared to speak out, was, in the process, forced to spend vast amounts of school money (allocated for the musical education of young musicians by the Government’s Music & Dance Scheme),to challenge and bring about the dismissal of the whistleblowers.

    As a result, once whistleblowers had been ‘dealt with’, it was then claimed there was no money to pay for a Director of Music, and the post was abolished, citing lack of finance at the same time as the school was still able to afford other expensive projects and create new senior management and teaching posts in other departments instead.

    Some would say the deletion of the DoM post was a vindictive attempt by the Governors, (led by the Bursar), designed to punish the DoM and his partner for trying to bring the school to account over Mr MacMillan’s own unfair dismissal, which, in court, would have also exposed the cover up and exact reasons behind the sudden departure of the Headmaster.

    Understandably, there was a national outcry by the musical establishment to the sudden demise of the DoM Post (including Simon Rattle, as School Patron), which the Governors ignored, claiming the school would manage without this role.

    Five years on, (and three Headmasters later…), the School, hoping all the scandal surrounding the demise of the post is forgotten, realizes this isn’t working, and money has been found to reinstate the essential post for the good of the musical education of their pupils.

    Money that would have been there had it not been for the foolish and desperate attempt by the ‘retiring’ Bursar & Governors to bury the truth surrounding the unexplained dismissal of a former Headmaster, whose unacceptable predatory behaviour brought the school into disrepute in the first place, and what this whole desperate sorry saga is actually all about.

  • Parent. says:

    It seems the trouble continues. In spring 2019 my son, a pupil at the school who is known for his honesty, made an allegation of assault against a teacher. The alleged incident took place in a location with no cctv cameras and no witnesses and in the Morning before my son sat an A level exam. That teacher is now back working his full duties including the boarding house. I am very unhappy with the result of the investigation and with some of the ways in which the school has dealt with this situation.

    • concerned parent says:

      I also have 1st hand experience.

      My advice would be think very carefully before allowing your child to board. Especially if younger.

      Nothing will ever substitute the eyes and ears of a real parent, and as such the kids, especially in the mid teen years, are allowed off site in the after school hours with little knowledge of what they are up to or with whom.

      We naively believed all was well, it was not. I will not go into detail but please think very carefully.

      The Music side of things is excellent.
      Academic is fine.
      Pastoral has shortcomings.

  • Former teacher says:

    Independent inspectors have just been to Purcell. They examined everything pastoral and say that the school has been ‘transformed’. Lots of happy students, hardworking, dedicated staff and positive comments all round. Re previous comments on this site – you can’t please everyone all the time, I suppose……