Schools act on ugly chanting at Head of the Lake regatta

TWO Ballarat schools have taken action after concerns were raised about derogatory chants aimed at rival schools at last week’s Head of the Lake rowing regatta.

While the Head the Lake is famous for spirited and sometimes partisan barracking, the excitement last week turned ugly as competing schools riled each other before staff moved to intervene.

See last week's Head of the Lake coverage here.

Ballarat Grammar School principal Stephen Higgs said BGS staff accompanying students to Lake Wendouree heard the unsuitable chanting and put a stop to it.

“It came to the attention of my staff that a section of the chanting at the Head of the Lake was unacceptable from our point of view and contrary to our school values,” Mr Higgs said.

“As soon as our staff heard it, they put a stop to it.” Mr Higgs said he had also emailed Ballarat High School’s principal Gary Palmer to apologise for the chants – one of which included directing rivals to “Centrelink”, aimed mainly at BHS students.

“I received a very warm response from Gary. He was not in any way complaining and he was very understanding.

“It was a very short-lived thing and quite unacceptable but it has to be put in the context of a great day of rowing.”

In a newsletter to parents, St Patrick’s College principal Peter Casey said the school would deal with any matters arising from last Friday’s event.

“Because we are a human institution, not everything goes according to plan, despite our best intentions,” Mr Casey said.

“I appreciate the effort of those who draw our attention to the shortcomings of any facet of our life together.

“We take these reminders seriously and follow up to ascertain the facts of the matter and deal with them accordingly.

“Just as seriously do we take the efforts of community members to alert us to the good works of the boys.

“It is good to maintain the balance.”

The other schools involved in the Head of the Lake – Ballarat Clarendon College, Loreto College, Damascus College and Ballarat High School – all said they only wished to praise Friday’s event and the behaviour of rowers and students.