Muck-up day mayhem creates costly clean-up bill

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Police were called to Camberwell High School in Melbourne’s east, last week, after some balaclava-wearing Year 12 students from the school broke in and trashed the Year 12 centre, spreading bleach, rotten milk, sardines, varnish and vinegar. Students also tore up turf on the oval, resulting in a costly damage bill.

Staff and students at the public school were targeted with eggs and flour, with police called after three female staff were hit with eggs. No incident report was made, and the school allowed the students back on campus on Monday this week.

School staff instructed teachers to clean up the mess before students arrived, with reports that damaged couches had to be thrown out, and claims that carpeting is ruined.

“Teachers spent the afternoon phoning parents and alerting them that those students would no longer be attending an excursion, or go to valedictory, something they have since redacted,” one teacher told media.

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A spokesperson from the Victorian Department of Education said: “Camberwell High School is deeply disappointed with the behaviour of some of its Year 12 students and has taken appropriate disciplinary action. Camberwell High School has clear policies around the expected behaviour of its students and acted immediately to stop the disruptive behaviour and support students and staff affected.”

Students take pranks too far

Muck-up events occur in schools across Australia, and although most antics do not involve criminal damage, teachers and principals are frustrated by the risks involved when things do go wrong, or when students push their ‘pranks’ too far.

For their own muck-up day, a group of Year 12 students from Melbourne private girls’ school Firbank Grammar were caught on video vandalising cars belonging to Year 12 students at Brighton Grammar – a neighbouring boys’ private school with close ties to Firbank. The incident was reported to police on 11 October, on the day the damage occurred.

Some Brighton Grammar students claimed vehicles had been scratched and painted with nail polish.

Last month in New South Wales, a teenage student from Oak Hill College was hit by car when a school muck-up day stunt went wrong. The high school student suffered serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle driven by a P-plate driver who swerved to avoid water balloons being thrown by other students.

Frustrated teachers tackle-clean-up

A video of the mess made by Tintern Grammar students on muck-up day has already been viewed more than 500,000 times and received almost 80,000 likes, with students from a number of schools across Australia also posting the results of their own muck-up day ‘celebrations’, showing things ranging from clingwrap spread around various school infrastructure, to contents of bean bags spread across classroom floors, as well as furniture tipped over and toilet paper hanging from trees in schoolyards.

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@_hala005 And thats a wrap #classof2023 #muckupday #2023 ♬ son original – justanunknownstar

At Melbourne Girls’ College, the final assembly and guard of honour was cancelled after a small group of students damaged the school and prompted a lock-out of other students.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Melbourne Girls College cancelled a final assembly for its Year 12 students on Monday after some students in the year level breached the school’s clearly defined standards of behaviour. The school is investigating the incident and will be following up with students.”

Principal Tamy Stubley sent a letter to parents at the school and said the girls’ behaviour “did not uphold our college values”.

@cottonandstone Wild scenes! #muckupday #muckupdaymelbourne #year12s ♬ original sound – shio

At least one parent expressed their disappointment with local media that all year 12s, and not only the perpetrators, were locked out of the school, with parents left uninformed of the incident until at least three hours later.

“A lot of the girls were in tears. They couldn’t get their bags, which were thrown over the fence. We sent them to school thinking they would be safe, but they had been kicked out by staff,” she said.

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At Oakleigh Grammar, students defaced bathroom mirrors, blocked hallways and scattered furniture and beanbags around the floors, with principal Mark Robertson describing the damage as “not harmful or malicious but it was quite messy”.

“Those responsible were sent home and came back the next day for final assembly,” he said.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]