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Michael Brewer found guilty of sexual abuse

8 February 2013

Mike Brewer, co-founder and former artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has been found guilty of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court
Mike Brewer, co-founder and former artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has been found guilty of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court

Mike Brewer, former director of music at Chetham’s School of Music and a founder of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, has today been convicted of sexual abuse at Manchester Crown Court.

It has also emerged that the victim in question, Frances Andrade, is thought to have killed herself during the trial.

The jury found Brewer guilty of sexually abusing the victim in his office at Chetham’s while she was 14 and 15.

His ex-wife, Kay Brewer, 68, was also convicted of indecently assaulting the same victim when she was an adult at their then family home.

Mr Brewer carried out the offences at Chetham's and his Manchester home between 1978 and 1982.Brewer was cleared of one charge of indecently assaulting the victim at his home while she was a child. He was cleared on three further indecent assault charges and was found not guilty of raping Andrade when she was 18. His ex-wife, Hilary Kay Brewer, also 68, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Andrade when she was 18, but found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape.

During the trial it was revealed that Mr Brewer had been forced to resign from his post at Chetham's (leaving in 1994) after a separate incident in which the then headmaster, Peter Hullah, had disturbed Brewer and a pupil in Brewer's office 'when the choirmaster had the girl’s top off', reported the Daily Mail.

'Rev Hullah knocked on the office door when Brewer had the girl’s top off, but while she had time to dress and dash out before he walked in, he became suspicious and ordered an inquiry', said the paper on 30 January.

Pressed by the judge, Brewer admitted the incident had been 'swept under the carpet'. The reason for his resignation at the time was given as being on 'health grounds'.

A statement on the school's website from the current head teacher, Claire Moreland, said the revelations of the trial had 'shocked us to the core'.

'Mr Brewer has been found to have committed the most appalling acts which took place during his time at the school, and he breached the trust placed in him by the school, its staff and most importantly the students.  On behalf of the current school staff I wish to express my profound and sincere apology and regret. And most of all I wish to express the sorrow and sympathy we feel for the family of our former student who died under such tragic circumstances and had to endure so much.

'Having been the head of the school for the last 14 years I can say that during my time child welfare has been at the heart of the school. This has been endorsed by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Furthermore, the child protection measures we have in place are robust and extensive and reflect the huge improvements in child protection across the education sector.'

In 1983 Mr Brewer became musical director of the National Youth Choir and in 1992 formed Laudibus, the National Youth Chamber Choir. He has also directed the World Youth Choir.
He was immediately suspended from the NYCGB when arrested in April 2012. A statement said: 'The NYCGB has, in the interests of our young members, been in close contact with the police and child protection officers since the allegations were first made. However, neither then nor during the trial have any questions been raised with the NYCGB by the police, or any other individual, which might have suggested that the issues raised at trial reflect Mike Brewer in his role as artistic director of NYCGB.

'All the events which were the subject of the trial occurred before 1994 while Mike was teaching at Chetham’s School. The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, until the trial, were not aware of the reasons behind Mike Brewer’s resignation from Chetham’s School in 1994.

'Mike Brewer had been planning for retirement before his suspension following the allegations, and we confirm that Mike Brewer no longer has any involvement with NYCGB.' The organisation appointed Ben Parry as its director in August 2012.While we hope that Mike Brewer’s legacies for young singers – including vocal excellence, outstanding performance opportunities, and exploring a vast repertoire – will remain core to NYCGB’s work, we now move forward with our 30th anniversary year.'

Mr Brewer denied rape and eight counts of indecent assault. Kay Brewer denied one count of indecent assault and aiding and abetting rape.

Music to remain a National Curriculum foundation subject across KS 1-3

8 February 2013, David Ashworth

The government has released a National Curriculum consultation document for music, which states that music is to remain a National Curriculum foundation subject for Key Stages 1 to 3. The National Curriculum continues to be statutory for all state schools, but it is also intended to guide what is taught in schools that have opted for academy status.

The document contains details of the government’s proposed music curriculum, which includes the statement that ‘pupils should leave school with an appreciation of how music is composed and performed, allowing them to listen with discrimination and judgment to the best in the musical canon.’ The aims across all Key Stages are to ensure that pupils ‘perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions’; that they ‘learn to sing, compose and have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument’; and that they ‘understand musical notations and how music is constructed.’

The subject content for each Key Stage is covered in just a few bullet points, paring core content down to basic essentials. Key Stage 1 is about pupils singing expressively, playing instruments musically, making and combining sounds (composing) and listening with concentration and understanding. Key Stage 2 pupils are doing the same things with increasing accuracy, confidence, control and expression. In composing and improvising, they are now organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures.

At Key Stage 3 there is more detail. Pupils build on their previous knowledge and develop their vocal and/or instrumental fluency, accuracy and expressiveness. In composing, they develop musical ideas by drawing on a range of musical structures, styles, genres and traditions. They will listen with increasing discrimination and develop a deep understanding of the music that they perform and listen to, and its history. Throughout the document, there is reference to ‘great musicians and composers’, the musical canon and the history of music. It is left to teachers to interpret what this might mean.

Regarding, assessment and reporting, level descriptors will no longer apply, but there are attainment targets for the end of each Key Stage. These state simply that pupils are expected to know, apply and understand what has been specified in the relevant programme of study.

The rationale given for this stripped-down curriculum model is twofold. One is to give more autonomy to the teacher, where it is recognised that the National Curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons. The other is to try to provide a document which parents can easily understand, in the hope that they will become more engaged and involved with their children’s education.

Responses to this consultation are invited, using the forms and guidance which can be found at http://www.education.gov.uk/a00221262/reform-national-curriculum. The closing date for these responses is 16 April and there is the expectation that the new National Curriculum will be implemented in September 2014.

Gove performs dramatic U-turn on EBacc

7 February 2013, Christopher Walters

Michael Gove, the education secretary, has this morning announced a dramatic U-turn on his widely condemned English Baccalaureate (EBacc) policy. This means that the coalition government’s proposed English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs), which were due to replace GCSEs in ‘core’ subjects from 2017, will now no longer be developed.

Recent days have seen Gove respond increasingly angrily to critics of the EBacc, claiming that the Labour party and other opponents of the policy believed that children from poor families should ‘stick to the station in life they were born into’. But it has now emerged that the education secretary’s aggressive defence has in part been fuelled by behind-the-scenes pressure from the Liberal Democrats to scrap the policy, in addition to the barrage of publicly voiced opposition from teaching unions and organisations representing the arts, sport and religious education.

Introduced 18 months ago on an agenda of bringing rigour back into secondary education, the EBacc has been popular with the Tory faithful and some parts of the right-wing press, but universally unpopular with education experts and arts organisations. Much of the criticism has been to do with the confusing nature of the policy, which was initially introduced 18 months ago as a league table performance measure – rather than a qualification – and given to students who score a C or above at GCSE in maths, English, two sciences, a language and history or geography.

Then, last year, Gove announced plans to make the EBacc into the backbone of his secondary education policy. GCSEs in the EBacc subjects would be replaced by more rigorous EBCs, with less coursework and more emphasis on end-of-course exams. The EBacc itself would remain a performance measure, but tabulated from EBC rather than GCSE scores.

With a drive to raise the profile of the EBacc and a raft of new EBC qualifications promised, Gove hoped that the EBacc would force schools to prioritise what he saw as the ‘core’ subjects of secondary education. But the education community bit back, claiming that there had been little or no consultation before the implementation of the policy and arguing that non-EBacc subjects and learners with special needs would be marginalised.

Soon there was widespread opposition among arts organisations, curated by an effective ‘Bacc for the Future’ campaign set up by the Incorporated Society of Musicians. And while Gove countered that there would still be room for arts and technical subjects to be taken alongside the core EBCs, teachers responded that schools would be likely to enter students for more EBCs and fewer non-EBacc subjects in order to maximise their chances of each student achieving the EBacc.

Nor has there been much support for Gove’s vision of what constitutes ‘core’ subjects. The education secretary’s list has been slammed by education experts for being entirely backward looking, with much criticism for the exclusion of the arts and technical subjects such as design and technology and computing. Last week’s hurried inclusion of computer science in the science category did little to convince critics that the EBacc subjects were being chosen on a rational basis or that the original list had been properly thought through.

Today’s announcement may represent the result of successful lobbying from the EBacc’s opponents, but it remains unclear whether the non-EBacc subjects are likely to fare any better under the new arrangements. The EBacc as a performance measure is likely to remain, despite the fact that GCSEs will now no longer be replaced by EBCs, and schools could still be pushed towards driving numbers of candidates for subjects which fall into a contentious category of ‘core’ subjects.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and coordinator of the Bacc for the Future campaign, said: ‘This is good news for children and good news for education. We must learn from the last six months of consultation and ensure we work together to create high quality and rigorous GCSEs and A levels with appropriate assessment fit for the 21st Century. Creative subjects such as art, music and design and technology need to stay at the heart of education so that we can develop talented youngsters to feed our creative industries and generate growth.

She added: ‘The voices of the creative industries and education sectors have been listened to, and we welcome this. We will now be looking closely at the new proposed national curriculum for music and work with the government to ensure that we have a national curriculum, GCSEs and A levels fit for the future.’

Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive of the Federation of Music Services, said: 'FMS welcomes the government’s decision not to replace GCSEs with EBCs at this point in time. While it is vital for young people to achieve qualifications in core subjects like English, maths and science, there has been concern amongst some music educators that the EBacc was too narrow in focus, at the expense of other more creative subjects. The government’s National Plan for Music, along with protected funding for music over three years, is recognition of the key role music can play in children’s academic, social and cultural development.'

Cardiff and Newport music services face savage cuts

5 February 2013, Rhian Morgan

Cardiff City Council is proposing to end its subsidy of music lessons in schools by cutting its £151,000 grant to the Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Music Service. The move is part of plans to save £22m in the next financial year.

Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for finance, said the Labour administration had to make 'difficult decisions' as a consequence of the UK government’s austerity measures. The move will mean the music service increasing its music tuition fees by 11% to make up the shortfall.

Emma Coulthard, a music development officer with the music service, says it has become a challenge for music services to deliver what is being asked of them on dwindling funding. 'In Wales, where there was no Wider Opps money, no In Harmony and no Youth Music, Cardiff’s music service has had to be particularly creative and forge strong alliances with schools and others,' she said.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Gwent is facing similar cutbacks, with Newport City Council proposing to withdraw its funding for Gwent Music Support Service. Many hundreds of people have signed petitions against the plans. Protestors in both areas say that it is children from the poorest families, many of whom currently receive free lessons, who are most likely to suffer.

Newport-based Emma Archer, a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, said she found the situation 'abhorrent'. 'Times are very hard for councils,' she said. 'However, there is a complete dearth of creative thinking at the moment. If we cut all creative outlets for the next generation and offer them little prospect of easy access to further education and very little certainty of a job at the other end, just what kind of society does the current government expect will be created?'

The two petitions can be found here:



Computer science added to EBacc but still no arts

31 January 2013, Rhian Morgan

Arts organisations are to intensify their lobbying of the government for the inclusion of creative subjects in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) following the announcement that computer science is to be included as one of the science options which count towards the EBacc.

The change has been made following lobbying by technology companies who have been calling for a bigger role for computing in education. The Department for Education says the change is intended to reflect the 'importance of computer science to both education and the economy'.

The EBacc is currently awarded to pupils who get A* to C grades at GCSE in English, maths, sciences, history or geography and a language. From 2017, new English Baccalaureate Certificates will replace GCSEs for these subjects. There’s been extensive lobbying to add further subjects including music, the arts and religious education, with concerns that excluded subjects could be marginalised.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), called on the government to address 'the needs of the creative economy and introduce rigorous creative subjects'. Stephen Twigg, Labour's education spokesman, said 'Gove's exams still place no value on creative subjects like art, music and drama, and no value on practical subjects like engineering, design and technology and construction.'

Meanwhile, the EBacc proposals have been heavily criticised in two parliamentary debates for omitting creative subjects, while Bacc for the Future, a campaign coordinated by the ISM, was praised by the Liberal Democrat Lord Clement-Jones for bringing strong voices together to save creativity in schools by calling for a sixth pillar of creative subjects to be included.

Bacc for the Future now has more than 44,000 signatories on its petition and the support of more than 100 organisations across the cultural, industry and education sectors. The petition can be signed here: www.baccforthefuture.com/sign-the-petition.html

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