Tuesday, 23 January 2018

(Not So) Free Birds

Hampstead school is notoriously bad when it comes to Twitter. The school has several 'official' accounts that have been misused or unused over the years. The Hampstead School account has zero tweets, and the school Updates account - designed to provide a quicker (and less costly) way of contacting parents with need to know information at the height of the school's push to be technologically literate - has nine tweets, the latest dating as far back as October 2009. No wonder neither of them have any large amount of parent followers.

The account that does seem to have a lot more use (and a lot more followers, although these are mostly companies not parents) is the Hampstead Sixth Form account. However, some of its activity of late has grown to be a little bizarre and off-topic for a school account.

Although activity has stalled in the last few months, over the past year tweets have ranged from "Hi @wattbike Our screen's frozen as in the attached pic. Buttons unresponsive. Any tips to unfreeze/reset??" to "I just found out my note is E! What's yours? @SingTrueApp". Other strange tweets include "Rwanda begins Zipline commercial drone deliveries", "US election: My secret life as a Texan Trump supporter" and "Humans need new skills for post-AI world, say MPs".

Whilst some of these may be all in the interest of proliferating educational news stories, you have to scroll back to March last year to get a tweet that says anything about sixth form students at Hampstead.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Careless Talk Costs Nuggs

The way Hampstead is going about its business is getting more Sztazi-esque by the second. Whilst we are all already aware of how the school treats its students when it comes to having the right papers uniform and only taking exams that will please Comrade Szemalikowski, the Hitler Youth-style intelligence gathering now extends to visitors as well.

The Trash has gained an exclusive look at the leaflet that is given to all visitors to the school (see images below.) Whilst the majority of the guidance on said leaflet seems fairly standard, such as “wear your visitor’s badge” and “follow your host’s instructions”, some of it would make any sane person question what went through their mind when writing it.

On the back under their ‘Mobile Phone Policy’ they write that “we ask all visitors to support our mobile-free school by switching phones and other electronic devices to silent and only using them in staff-only areas”, because students are such impressionable creatures that they would never produce a mobile phone in school unless they saw an adult flaunting theirs. To say that Hampstead is mobile free is to be kidding yourself; the collection box of confiscated mobiles in the reception at the end of every day is testament to that. In this day and age, students will have phones; the most you can ask is that they put them away whilst in the classroom.

Where the leaflet becomes truly insidious is when it asks that visitors “Do not: agree to keep anything confidential that a student may say to you”. There are many instances wherein a student may need to confide in a visitor without the school knowing, especially with a senior leadership such as the one Hampstead has that has been known to act in a bullying and intimidating way. There are many things a student may not feel comfortable sharing with the school, and we have come across instances wherein a student needed to report about the school to someone impartial without reprimand; when the school was applying for Rights Respecting status being one such instance.

If visitors to the school are not allowed to talk to students in the knowledge what is said between them will be kept away from the school, there are few other avenues of recourse when attempting to report about the misdoings of the school itself. The only other way a student might protest a decision made by the school would be to go to their parents, who may be apathetic, or to a publication such as The Trash. Far more gravely, the inclusion of this guidance for visitors suggests the leadership of the school is actively trying to control the student voice and what is said to members of the public, or otherwise ascertain what is said off the record. Once again, Big Szemalikowski is watching you.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

FIRE and FURY: Inside The Head's Office

With all 3 copies of it at Hampstead's Library currently on loan, we caught up with Michael Wolfe, author of the sensational new book Fire and Fury: Inside The Head's Office to discuss his insider's peek into the day-to-day runnings of a place that has been dogged with controversy since the Head took his office. Since the book was released, various revelatory claims in it have lead to fresh condemnation of the Head's leadership.

Trash Intern: The Head referred to you as a "complete loser", adding "he didn't even pass his English GCSE [...] I had to organize the provision of special classes!". How do you respond to this?

Wolfe: 'Your mum.'

Trash Intern: You describe the day Dr Brookman [a senior adviser to the Head] was forced out in incredible detail. How did it feel to stand there as all these events unfolded? 

Wolfe: Strange.

From the book:
"Brookman left today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. It was a strange occasion nonetheless. Like so many times before, the Head's hand seemed to rise of its own accord. Guided by an unearthly presence. The words seemed to fall out of his mouth like pasta does onto a new white shirt: 'You're fired'. We were all expecting it, but it still came as a surprise."
Trash Intern: How did the Head react to news that planning permission for his "border wall" between Hampstead School and nearby UCS had been denied? 

Wolfe: I'll say what 100% - 100% - of people around him say: "Like. A. Child."
"Ever seen a year seven walking up the stairs? ...neither have I - they're just too short. I imagine however that they would be incredibly uncoordinated and largely oblivious to their surroundings. But in comparison to the man who has somehow found himself in charge of this sinking ship [Hampstead School], they ought to be praised as specimens of graceful coordination and sharply tuned awareness."
Trash Intern: How did you gain so much access to the Head's office?

Wolfe: With as much ease as someone might have gained access to 400 sets of personal information... 

Trash Intern: And what about the infamous excerpt from Brookman about the meeting in Jacques Tower [formerly the English Block]? How did you get him to go on record saying something like that?

Wolfe: Easy. One, the guy secretly despises the Head. He just wanted to see in a Republican and was then waiting to be sacked. He wanted to be the opposition again. Two, he didn't know he was on the record.
"The three senior leadership guys thought it was a good idea to meet with an underage minor inside Jacques Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor - with a policeman present and no parents. They didn't have any parents. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called home immediately."

Since the book has been released, the Head has branded it "defamatory", "untrue" and containing masses of "mad writings. Sad." prompting many to go out a buy a copy. He recently attempted to involve the law by calling the police to arrest the writer, but the police said there had been "no wrongdoing." 

Michael Wolfe served as head editor of ETC. before resigning to accept a lucrative book deal with the Trash. His other works include World Fury and Accidents and 'Fire in a Crowded Theatre'.

FIRE and FURY: Inside the Head's Office is out now via Hampstead Trash Books Inc.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Marketing Ideology

With the start of term comes the yearly deluge of pointless and, you guessed it, expensive advertising by the school. With a marketing budget that could easily be put to better use educating children (see Trash passim), especially in these belt-tightening times, half-page adverts for prospective students have already been spotted in copies of the Ham&High, despite the paper recently ignoring the school’s exam results almost entirely. As well as this, multiple posters have been spotted on bus stops along the C11 route.

All the advertising material this year has had a bit of an update from that of the past few years, now featuring students that actually still attend the school (see below). The new (and most likely costly) design features most prominently an image of two students – one male, one female – sitting beside each other, of course in ‘perfect’, yet nowhere near close to smart, uniform. Whilst the male student pretends to be working for the camera, the female student gazes wistfully at this most proud and powerful boy as he works away.

Of course, the school couldn’t possibly be suggesting with such a pose that it is men that do all the hard work whilst it is a woman’s place to simply admire their male superiors? That would be like something out of a 1950’s infomercial on how to keep a good house. But whilst the smaller images of the advertising campaign show students pretending to be able to act, two sixth formers pretending to study and a student pretending to be a cardboard fox (we’re not kidding on that last one), the main image provides what may or may not be inadvertent sexist overtones. Surely this isn’t the same Hampstead that solved gender discrimination by segregating girls and boys with a sign now, is it?

Friday, 15 December 2017

Szmerry Christmas 2017

You can enjoy your holiday this year, safe in the knowledge that wherever you are, a certain smug      twat is smiling complacently, misguidedly believing that for yet another year, he has fooled us all.