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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The residential schools Investigation Report

Contents

C.3: Additional risks in specialist music schools

8. The Inquiry heard evidence about child sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns which arose at the four specialist music schools in England.[1] These are boarding schools, although some pupils attend as day pupils. All the specialist music schools include overseas students amongst their boarding pupils, who may be far from home and family.

9. Music schools present particular challenges in terms of safeguarding. Instrumental tuition involves a high proportion of one-to-one teaching, usually with the same tutor, and often a degree of physical contact will be necessary. At specialist music schools, tuition may be provided by renowned and distinguished instrumentalists, who teach on a freelance basis without qualifications or training for teaching children. In the case of choir schools, choristers will come into regular contact with adults in the choir, or working at the cathedral, who are not employees of the school. Children who aspire to become successful musicians may look up to and even revere their teacher, who may seek to exploit their power and authority.[2] There can be great pressure on children to succeed and make a career in the somewhat closed world of classical music. Concerns about being seen as ‘difficult’ may dissuade children from making complaints about their teachers, who can have significant influence over their future education and career.[3] Evidence from former pupils indicated that the atmosphere within specialist music schools could be intensely competitive and emotionally charged, with insufficient regard for the emotional well-being of children.[4]

10. The specialist music schools are independent boarding schools and are required to comply with the Independent School Standards and the NMS for boarding schools. Currently, there are no additional safeguarding requirements for specialist music education, notwithstanding the additional risks in these settings.[5] A safeguarding conference took place between the specialist music and dance schools in 2018 and these schools now meet twice a year to discuss safeguarding.[6]

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