Following recent media reports about police investigations into allegations of abuse at Manchester music institutions, we issue the following statement to attempt to help clarify Chetham’s position.
We have been in regular contact with Greater Manchester Police throughout Operation Kiso, the official name for the police’s wide-ranging investigation into allegations of abuse. The Operation focuses on Chetham’s and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), but also includes investigations into events occurring outside of these two music institutions. When we contacted the police earlier on today they confirmed that they are currently investigating 39 individuals (some deceased) as part of the Operation and that not all of these individuals taught at either Chetham’s or the RNCM. We would like to reassure parents that while the recent media reports reflect a greater level of detail about the investigations, they do not contain any developments concerning Chetham’s that we were not already aware of. We continue to offer the police our assistance with their enquiries.
The trial and conviction of Michael Brewer, a former teacher at our School and the subsequent police investigations raised serious and important issues. In terms of actions being taken by the School, whilst the recent inspection reports by Manchester Children’s Services and the ISI found that our students felt safe and happy, they identified a number of weaknesses in our safeguarding processes and procedures. We are addressing these as a priority. Many of the changes have already been implemented and we are working with the Department for Education and Manchester Children’s Services on this. A detailed Action Plan has now been submitted to the Department of Education for approval.
Key initiatives included in the Action Plan include:
- Introduction of a safeguarding sub-committee of the Governing Body tasked with oversight of all safeguarding at Chetham’s
- Appointment of experts to a safeguarding commission which will oversee and advise on all aspects of safeguarding
- An annual independent audit of our safeguarding policies and procedures
- Opportunities for additional parental engagement – a new ‘parents' extranet forum’ and ‘parent governor’ participation on the Governing Body
Much of the Action Plan has been formulated with a view to developing safeguarding best practice in the sector and to ensure that both students and their parents have an even stronger voice within the School.
Our responsibility, as a School, is to ensure that our young musicians have the facilities and resources that they need and can thrive in a safe and supportive environment. We are extremely proud of our School which we believe makes an invaluable contribution to the community and the musical life of the nation. However, the safety and happiness of our students is, and always must be, our top priority.