All-too often, music teaching finds itself in the headlines for the wrong reasons. This was true last month, as Manchester Crown Court heard the trial of Malcolm Layfield on a charge of rape. Layfield was acquitted by the unanimous verdict of a jury which required only 90 minutes to reach its conclusion.
During the trial, however, Layfield admitted having a number of consensual sexual relationships with teenage students, all of whom were above the age of consent – behaviour which Layfield himself described as ‘shameful’.
The situation at Chetham’s at the time of these events, when the now convicted Mike Brewer served as director of music, was – it is clear – quite shocking. For some students, the purpose of being at school was turned entirely on its head. Their interests came a poor second to those of their teachers. There is little evidence of the duty of care.
It is worth saying this here only to highlight, for the record, how hugely different such a situation is from the vast majority of entirely professional, productive and appropriate interactions between teachers and students. Most teachers are thinking about how to develop their pupils in the best way for them – putting the individual at the centre of their approach, and thereby rightly elevating the position of the student.
Yet the reputational damage done to the profession by these high-profile cases, severe as it may be, is nothing compared with the individual suffering which can be caused by such inappropriate relationships, regardless of their legality.
It is good to announce that the call for papers for Music Education Expo 2016 is now open. The next Expo, running at the new venue of Olympia Central, London on 25 and 26 February (not the last time you will read those dates over the coming months, I can assure you) will be running alongside a new performing arts element run in conjunction with MT’s sister publication, Teaching Drama: the Musical Theatre and Drama Education Show.
The process of submitting seminars has been overhauled to place effective, efficient learning at the centre of the event’s CPD programme, and a advisory board of diverse music education practitioners will inform the decision-making for 2016. There will be something for everyone, and we are committed to making that something as high-quality as possible.
So if you have something to share, you could share it at the Expo. Go to www.musiceducationexpo.co.uk for more.