Former teacher at Sydney's elite Cranbrook School says student tried blackmailing her for nudes

  • 05/03/2024

A former female teacher at an elite Sydney boys' school is sounding alarm bells, saying a student tried to blackmail her into sending him nudes.

It's just one of several claims reported by ABC's Four Corners, including teachers being given fluffy handcuffs, wolf-whistled or called at with orgasm noises, and being told you can expect to be sexually harassed if you're good-looking.

Staff and parents have written letters to Cranbrook headmaster Nicholas Sampson, seen by Four Corners, where they described a "toxic culture" and "boys club" at the school.

The news has now come to light as the school looks to go co-ed, welcoming girls onto the grounds, from 2026.

The alarm bells come after former math teacher Jasmin Hyde last year told the Australian Human Rights Commission "Cranbrook did not have a safe, inclusive and supportive culture for me and its female teaching staff".

"It must change for my sake, and it must change for the sake of your current and future teaching staff, and the many young girls who are about to embark on their studies at Cranbrook," she said.

Hyde, who started at the school in 2018, added she "started to feel unsafe".

She was involved in the blackmailing incident, which took place in 2020, where a student threatened to accuse Hyde of sexual abuse if she didn't send him nudes.

The boy was suspended and has written an apology. He ultimately chose to leave the school.

But Hyde raised concerns with the commission about leadership at the school failing to address this kind of behaviour.

She said the school's deputy leader Bob Meakin called her attractive and said it wasn't surprising she was getting attention from students.

"Justifying sexual harassment empowers future abuse," she told the commission.

"This is the standard that Cranbrook management condones, the tone from the top - that young, attractive women at your school should not only expect but tolerate sexual harassment.

"I wonder how the parents of your future female students would feel about this."

Headmaster Sampson told the Human Rights Commission, "[the] statements by Mr Meakin could have been more thoughtful and the messages delivered in a different way".

He went on to say, "the statements, however, were based on a supportive and pastoral intent, and were in no way dismissive of the seriousness of the incident".

The commission ultimately upheld Hyde's complaint.