A bullying incident at Waverley College that led to six students being expelled over “assault and humiliation-type behaviours” has sparked an external investigation and calls for the school to consider a cultural audit at the all-boys institution.
The eastern suburbs private school’s governing body, Edmund Rice Education Australia, commissioned former Catholic school leader Dr Michael Slattery to investigate how the college handled the incident following an official complaint from the expelled students’ parents in October.
A copy of Slattery’s report, finalised in mid-November and seen by the Herald, said the students were alleged to have whipped other students using a belt, drawn on them with permanent pen, forced them into confined spaces, and made them kneel down and kiss their shoes.
In a letter to parents this week, school principal Graham Leddie said the bullying incident involved year 9 students who “responded completely disproportionately to students who were two years younger than they were”.
Leddie said it was provoked after some year 7 students threw fruit and water at year 9 students during lunchtime. “What started as some silly behaviour turned into assault and humiliation-type behaviours,” he said. Six students were expelled as a result.
The external report said 20 students had been interviewed by staff following the incident, and notes were recorded for each interview.
One of Slattery’s key recommendations was for the school to consider undertaking a “cultural audit” to investigate any evidence of younger students’ rites of passage and taunting behaviours. It also said the school should review its policy documents and processes.
A spokeswoman for Waverley College confirmed that Leddie had discussed a cultural audit with Edmund Rice. “Waverley College is always looking at ways to improve our school culture … This matter will be considered as part of our 2023 school improvement plan,” she said.