Laura Newey, a former student at Chetham’s School of Music, has published a brave piece in the London Review of Books detailing the phenomenal conver-ups conducted over more than 40 years of sexual abuse at Manchester’s two distinguished music schools.
Among other things she writes: Music schools disproportionately attract odd, disturbed and vulnerable children who struggle in mainstream education. Many students and staff accordingly thought of Chetham’s as a refuge from the outside world; a common mantra was that the school was like ‘one big family’. Any negative coverage of the school – in particular, the regular articles on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc blog – attracted a chorus of zealous defenders. One commenter on Slipped Disc implied that she had been abused at Chets; a pupil responded on Facebook that she needed ‘slapping across the face with a cock’. There was a general feeling that any internal criticism of the school was traitorous.
Senior figures have insisted they were unaware of sexual abuse at Chets. During Vallins’s IICSA testimony, someone in the public gallery shouted out: ‘You did know! You were told. It’s as clear as that. You’re lying … You did nothing. You have not apologised. I hope you can live with yourself.’ Vallins said that this was ‘absolutely untrue’. Ian Pace told the inquiry that he believed Vallins’s priorities ‘were primarily for the reputation of the school’.
Read on here.
No principal or head teacher of Chetham’s and RNCM, no head of department or chair of the board of governors, has ever been held to account for the appalling culture of sexual abuse that prevailed at both institutions.
Why is that?