Elite private school responds to captain's brutally honest end-of-year speech.

Ravenswood School for Girls has responded to the contentious speech made by its outgoing school captain, telling parents the matter was related to an “ongoing legal dispute”, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The chair of the school council, Mark Webb, lamented the “unfortunate” but “seemingly unavoidable” media attention that has followed a rousing end-of-year address by school captain Sarah Haynes.

In his letter, Mr Webb told parents: “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.”

Sarah Haynes used her valedictory speech to speak of the elite school’s imperfections and to express how she felt aggrieved by the circumstances surrounding her sister’s departure from the school earlier this year.

Fairfax Media reports it is believed the victim of the alleged bullying was a year 8 student at the school.

Ms Haynes suggested in her speech that she had previously been censored by school officials and that she had drafted two versions of her valedictory address: one bound for the school’s administration, and another which she planned to actually deliver.

Addressing the above concerns, Mr Webb told parents: “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.”


The Uniting Church school in Gordon, on Sydney’s north shore, is one of the most expensive in the city, charging annual fees of up to $28,000.

Earlier we reported:

“Today’s schools are being run more and more like businesses.”

The captain of an elite Sydney private school has used her valedictory speech to criticise the institution she says “let her down”.

Sarah Haynes, who is captain of Ravenswood School for Girls, gave an honest, if not scathing, end-of-year speech to a room of her fellow students, teachers and parents, for which she received a standing ovation.

“I would have felt insincere if I had to get up here today and pretend like I still loved everything about the school when so many know that I don’t,” she said, alluding to an incident in which she felt the school had failed to support her and her family.

Watch the final moments of the speech here:

Video via Sarah Haynes

The 18-year-old said she was “hurt and betrayed” by the school’s actions.

“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.

“Some people work hard and get noticed and good on them. Some people work hard, struggle and get overlooked.”

She said she would love the school, which charges up to $28,000 per annum, to “work towards something better where each member of the school feels valued equally”.

Ravenswood_School_for_Girls Wikipedia 720X547
Ravenswood School for Girls on Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Image: Wikipedia.

Haynes also said that throughout the year her speeches had been censored by the administration.

“Everything I wrote had to be censored by those higher up than me,” she explained. “I was never trusted to say the right thing.”

She added that she was asked to change her open day speech after referring to the school as less than 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’.”

Hayne’s admitted she had to prepare two versions of her valedictory speech so she could speak honestly.

The speech has been posted in full on YouTube, with Haynes being praised widely for speaking out.

“As an old girl of this school Sarahs’s gutsy speech was overdue by decades, bravo!” one commenter wrote.

“Amazing speech Sarah. Honest, humble and true,” another added.