The captain of a prestigious Sydney girl's school wrote a speech in secret to blast the institution for what she saw as its focus on finances and good publicity.
Sarah Haynes, captain of Ravenswood School for Girls on Sydney's north shore, used her address at the school's Speech Day last week to criticise schools for operating "like businesses". The 18-year-old went on to claim Ravenswood school captains had to have public speeches checked and "censored" by "those higher up".
"I don't know how to run a school but it seems to me that today's schools are being run more and more like businesses where everything becomes financially motivated, where more value is placed on those who provide good publicity or financial benefits," Haynes said.
"I wrote two speeches today just so I would be able to say Ravo wasn't perfect."
She made particular reference to a staff member asking her to amend remarks in a previous speech where she had admitted "Ravenswood isn't perfect".
"I sent this to those in charge of me and received a reply: 'Great speech but change the ending. No parent wants to hear that the school isn't perfect'," she said.
"If the school can't admit it isn't perfect how can they expect adolescent girls to realise perfection is unattainable," Haynes said in her speech.
The speech lit up social media and the online news spheres on Monday, with many questioning her motivation in delivering the speech. Early in the speech, she alludes to her sister "leaving the school", saying she felt betrayed by the school during the incident and "began to hate certain things and people in the school".
"About halfway through this year, at a time when my family and I needed Ravo the most, it let us down. I know there has been been gossip and rumours about my sister leaving the school and I'd rather not add fuel to the fire, but would prefer to say people I trusted made an unjusitifed, cruel and incorrect decision," Haynes said.
"There were a lot of flaws in the whole procedure but my aim today isn't to point out all those in a personal vendetta. I'm sharing this today because I want to be honest with everyone here and I would have felt insincere if I had to get up here today and pretend I still loved everything about the school when so many know that I don't."
In a letter posted on Ravenswood's website -- which the school said was sent home to all parents -- Mark Webb, the Chair of Ravenswood School Council, said the school was unable to comment on the speech as it related to a legal proceeding.
"As this relates to a matter before the Courts, it is not possible for us to comment on the specifics other than to say this relates to a disagreement about disciplinary action taken against a number of students following an incident of alleged bullying," Webb wrote.
"We have deliberately limited any comment to the media as we do not want to compromise the girls, their families or the legal system."
Webb also seemed to support Haynes' right to make the comments in her speech.
"Ravenswood has an overriding obligation to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for every student -- and all our girls have the right to feel valued. This applies not only to the way girls behave towards one another but also to allowing their freedom to express individual opinions in speeches or otherwise," he wrote.
Watch Haynes' full speech below:Suggest a correction