Elite private student sues Australian school as she did not get into law course of choice
A FORMER student of one of Australia's most elite private schools has been widely criticised after suing the school because she failed to qualify for the law course of her choice.
Rose Ashton-Weir, 18, claims that Geelong Grammar School, where The Prince of Wales studied for two terms in 1966, failed to provide "exceptional" education and did not provide her with adequate support. She and her mother, Elizabeth Weir, are suing the school for damages and compensation.
Ms Ashton-Weir, who boarded at the school in 2008 and 2009, was hoping to secure a place in law at the University of Sydney. She eventually chose to enrol in a double-degree in arts and sciences at the university, though she could have studied law at several less prestigious universities.
"I didn't ever feel I was getting the support I needed to really excel," she told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Ms Ashton-Weir told the tribunal last week that a teacher at the school criticised her for using words that were too long and that this had left her confused and made her doubt her ability to write essays. Her English marks subsequently began to fall and she became "quite distressed", according to a report in The Age newspaper.
Darren Ferrari, representing the school, said Ms Ashton-Weir had been internally suspended several times, was poorly organised, frequently absent from class and – according to her reports – failed to complete her school work. He said the school tried to support her when she fell ill with glandular fever in 2009 though she eventually left and went to live with her mother.
"The school wanted her to get through the year," he said.
Ms Weir joined the suit to seek £25,000 for the cost of moving to a new home when her daughter relocated to Sydney. She also said her daughter's return home forced her to give up a cookie business would have made £300,000 over a three-year period.
The suit prompted a barrage of criticism of Ms Ashton-Weir and her mother and triggered debate about a growing culture of "blame".
Miranda Devine, a commentator in Sydney's Daily Telegraph, said the case was an example of "an inflated sense of entitlement" – particularly among women – which "means you lash out and blame others when you don't get everything you believe you deserve".
"Most people might accept the disappointment as bad luck, a sign of their own limitations or a spur to work harder," she wrote. "But not Rose Ashton-Weir, 18. She felt entitled to a place at the University of Sydney law school."
A high schoolteacher, Kate Tanner, wrote in The Age: "What a tragedy it will be for the teaching profession if the plaintiff in the Geelong Grammar lawsuit has her case upheld ... I've taught year 12 for the best part of a decade, and there are generally other factors that decide the outcome of a study score and university offer that are closer to home."
The hearing is due to resume in August.