Parents who can afford to send their child to an exclusive private school have an expectation. They expect their child to achieve the marks required for entry into university. But this didn't happen for Rose Ashton-Weir, now 18, who was once a boarder at Geelong Grammar in Victoria that cost her mother $45,000 a year.
She began failing in maths in years 9 and 10 and didn't get the marks she wanted to study law at Sydney University. She alleges that the school gave her inadequate support, particularly in maths, and her mother Elizabeth is also suing the school for lost income.
Geelong Grammar say it was the student's lack of effort and attention which caused bad exam results. "Intellectually, she was highly capable and very eloquent" Geelong's Heather Morgan, Head of Clyde House, told the tribunal. "But there was a little bit of social naivety, emotionally I think there was an element of possible immaturity, she didn't manage disappointment well."
Rose's mother pointed out that in two terms in 2009, her daughter had achieved a number of 99 per cent scores.
The Tribunal heard that Rose contracted glandular fever and was absent for seven weeks and when she scored an E in maths, she asked to be transferred from advanced to foundation maths. Ms Morgan hinted that Rose may have felt isolated at boarding school as most of her friends were in Sydney and she did not respond well to individual tutoring. "She was determined almost to prove she couldn't do it" Ms Morgan said. "Rose was distressed by her illness, distressed by her expectations and distressed by not being at home."
Rose moved back to Sydney and attended Bradfield TAFE at Crows Nest and is currently in her first year of a double degree in arts and sciences at Sydney University.
I see a lesson here for parents wanting the best education money can buy for their children. To take a pubescent child away from family and friends and send them to a boarding school in another state, doesn't bode well for a happy state of mind, no matter how good the school is supposed to be.
The hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal continues before deputy VCAT president Ian Lulham.
Edit: A judgment handed down in November 2012 found her claim against Geelong Grammar could not be substantiated and the claim was dismissed. She eventually finished school in Sydney and graduated with an ATAR of 91.05 which was not high enough to get into law at the University of Sydney.