Chetham’s regrets past abuse, Wells says ‘we couldn’t see’

Chetham’s regrets past abuse, Wells says ‘we couldn’t see’


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2019

Reports from the UK Independent Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse continue to unfold a horrifying catalogue of paedophile activity at the leading music schools.

Alun Jones, present principal of Chetham’s in Manchester, offered an unqualified apology for ‘the appalling mistakes of the past’. A teacher at Wells Cathedral School said, ‘We couldn’t see what was there’.

Next under scrutiny are the Yehudi Menuhin and Purcell schools.

Clearly the tone has changed. In the past decade, when Slipped Disc has reported alleged abuses we were met with stone walls of denial.

See also: Distressing evidence.







  • Alexander says:

    should we classify that as “horror” ? or this word doesn’t fit British Democracy ?

  • AndrewB says:

    This inquiry is long overdue and very necessary. Thinking back to when I was studying in the mid/ late 80s we just would not have imagined what was going on . The tutors for us were people we trusted and were in awe of. They could help us enter our dream world of a musical career. In fact we were dreamy , young and perhaps unworldly would be a good word to describe us. Our heads were full of music.

    I can believe that in the past some school / college authorities didn’t know about the grooming activities and proclivities of certain members of their staff. It is clear these abusers could hide in plain sight. Teaching colleagues might have been loathe to report their suspicions back then for fear of wrongly accusing and that is if they actually realised anything was going on at all.

    Sadly this inquiry is happening too late for those who were abused in the past and have lived with the cruel consequences. However better protection can and should be provided for our current young music students because they deserve every support and a bright future.

  • Anon says:

    A member of my family went to Chets – the students knew what was going on with the teachers, girls being plied with alcohol etc.. but they were too scared to report it to JV, who subsequently hid the evidence. Many lives were ruined; this should be widely reported, but the usual British “sweep- it -under – the – carpet” attitude shall prevail…..

  • Sine nomine says:

    I have thought hard before posting.

    ~Unrelated~ to the schools in question, I have had to give evidence to the police in respect of my time as a chorister. The cases concerned have resulted in ‘justice’ and time served for the perpetrators.

    However, consider this non uncommon scenario from the time:
    Chorister / pupil tells parents / musical person of authority of abuse witnessed or experienced.
    Parents tell Headmaster; music person tells Precentor (and one trusts Precentortells Bishop etc).
    Precentor tells parents boy must be being abused at home as he has far too vivid an imagination. Precentor also tells boy to withdraw ‘allegation’

    Parents believe church and school authorities, and for remainder of boy’s life he is not believed – sometimesby his own parents!

    Until he is in his, say 30s or older when other examples/ court cases come to light.

    I KNOW times have changed and I feel it would be incredibly difficult for yesterday’s abusive behaviour to be repeated today.

    But for gifted children, musical or otherwise, who by virtue of their gift are absolutely in the hands of adults (whom 99% of the time the pupil looks up to), it is beholden on us ALL to strive to make yesterday’s wrongs repeatable without quashing the necessary and oft-sought pastoral love and care those children require and benefit from.

    My thoughts with all concerned.

  • Chris says:

    Vis a vis the claim by Wells Cathedral School that ‘we couldn’t see what was there’ I recall there is a saying that ‘there is none so blind as those who WILL not see’.

  • former pupil says:

    I was a pupil at Wells Cathedral School and I personally told the then Headmaster about an incident, I know of another pupil who told a member of staff. It was never mentioned again by anyone.