Saturday, 7 September 2013

Trashgate: A Response

Hello again. The last couple of days have been laced with articles, intrigue, Kinnan, The Head and many, many hits. Again, we're thankful to all readers and sharers of our little blog. This is Madness. Complete Madness. It's really One Step Beyond. It is clear that the Head is well versed in how to manipulate the media and has a history, which comes with the territory of his job, of dealing with high-pressure media interviews. He does this very well. Kinnan, on the other hand, does not, and so he may have come across in the interviews unflatteringly.

We'd like to be given the opportunity to respond to all the calls we heard on yesterday's show with Iain Dale on LBC 97.3, as well as set the record straight on why this blog is really here. These were the main points we heard against Kinnan (with a response to them):
  • Profanity - The criticism was that Kinnan shouldn't have used 'fruity' language, and put his points across using clean language. Now obviously, he could have not sworn, but surely the amount of expletives Kinnan used showed the size of his anger and indignance. Yet since when was swearing against the law? At Hampstead, the Sachsgate tapes were used for an English GCSE module. When this hit papers like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, the Head's response was "I think it is a totally appropriate thing to be doing. We are in the real world and children live in the real world." This is the exact opposite to his words in the CNJ and today. This point was wonderfully elaborated on the Call-in by Milly, a student and also the Young MP for Camden. You can see this expanded upon in a previous post by Heywood Jablome.
  • Calling the Head "mad" - Okay, we admit on Kinnan's behalf that this was a poor choice of words. Yet in the CNJ article, the Head says "... the officer I spoke to said he would pass these mad writings of his on to a colleague." Is his writing mad? It's far-fetched when writing satirically, and very critical when writing critically. I can see no madness in this, nor can many others who called in.
The reaction to the initial CNJ article has been overwhelming. The support, too. Other than our own hit count going through the roof, we've been featured in the Evening Standard, the Mail Online and Huffington Post. In addition, you can hear interviews with the Head & Kinnan (start from 46.16), and a poll was taken on the LBC website (this also features clips from the Head and Kinnan's interviews on LBC).

We've seen people supporting either side. We don't mind if you're for or against us. That is the whole point of the blog. That is what we have been saying all along. The blog was never set up as a shouting match filled with revenge and expletives (which, by the way, the Head used when dismissing Kinnan, despite his public protestations of expletives). The Trash was set up as an open forum for students, parents and teachers to voice their opinions on what is wrong in the school. We do not hesitate to say that the school does a lot right, and has amazing staff and students, but we are here to point out the things that could be better. Surely that fits in with the Head's 'We can always be better' attitude. We also wanted to be noticed by the school's management, so that the student consensus could be heard and acted upon, since the current School Council are being side-lined and ignored. I think we have superseded that goal a little.

There are some people out there calling for the Head's sacking or resignation. This is too far. We don't want people out of jobs. We just want a school that has a bit more say for students; where students are noticed. We understand that we have strayed from that ethos in recent times, and can say we are firmly back to where we began in February.

It is clear here that the Head has been caught out on this occasion acting badly, and has defended his actions with a certain amount of revisionist history (despite the Head's claims, the blog was blocked from school servers well before Kinnan's offending article. For that story, click here.) and faux outrage on other people's behalf. There is no evidence to support the claims that the School Council requested the ban, and any reasonable Head Teacher supporting free speech would not have enacted it.

Every day that passes wherein the ban on the blog still exists serves to demonstrate how little the Head can stand criticism of any sort. To clarify, at no point have we ever criticised a teacher or a student. Equally, we understand that the Head wishes to protect the image of the school that he has painstakingly built up, but by having knee-jerk reactions such as blocking us and condemning us only comes off worse in the long run, as we have seen over the past few days.

We know Kinnan and the Head will never see eye-to-eye, but we need to stop focusing on the media circus and start focusing on the issues this blog was set up to address. We are here to address issues and voice opinions. We are entitled to our opinions.

We want to thank the continued support we have had, and hope that the Head and the SLT can appreciate what we are trying to achieve, and use it for the greater good of our school.


  1. You're the top post on hacker news ( ) - brace for impact! :)

  2. Nice going, Kinnan - you'll make a great geek if so inclined .... via Hacker News.

  3. Here is the text of an email that I just sent the school. Hopefully they take it to heart.


    The primary duty that a school has is to turn out informed citizens who will try to maintain democracy. Despite your best efforts, you are apparently on the path to success with Kinnan Zaloom.

    Unfortunately your headmaster has failed to learn the critical lesson that any organization populated by people will have failure modes, and a common failure mode is that those in authority will seek to use their authority inappropriately, and will also seek to assert more authority than they should have. This has been known for thousands of years, with famous examples including ancient Athens, the Roman Republic, and a plethora of dictatorships around the world today.

    I am being generous in saying that your headmaster has failed to learn this lesson. In fact he seems to have learned it, but sees the path to petty dictatorship as something to emulate, not to fear. However one should never ascribe to malice and all that, so I will make the generous assumption that his actions came through incompetence.

    But even making the generous assumption, it is clear that your headmaster is not the kind of person who should be put in a position where he can try to harm the future of children whose only crime is to think more clearly than he does. We need children to learn that authority is a necessary evil in a democratic society. Which lesson can best be learned in an environment where authority is exercised wisely enough that the "necessary" part of it becomes evident.

    For the good of the children forced to suffer through your school, I sincerely hope that this fact is taken to heart and appropriate measures are taken to ensure that authority rests in more competent people going forward.

  4. A well measured piece. Reminds me of the Hampstead I used to work at where there were great relationships between staff and students and it was a fun place to work.

  5. You say that as if it's a bad thing, Dave.

  6. A 'Hampstead Trash' approved article, talking about Kinnan Zaloom and his headteacher from the point of view of an ex-hampstead student...

  7. I found this blog through an article i saw on facebook, I am doing A levels in Wales and i admire all of the people running this blog.

    The youth today is portrayed in the media as lazy, violent and don't care at all about education. I have browsed this blog and it's contents and i can see that there is hope. I have seen many people drop out of school and go on to do nothing because they either do not care or do not see the importance of education.
    I can see that you as students want to learn and are willing to, but it seems that the staff (in particular the Head) just want the grades, it seems that they do not care about your development into adulthood and your wellbeing. If that is the case, they have failed at being teacher's.
    I know that your aim isn't to get the Head sacked, but as the saying goes 'you cant teach an old dog new tricks' and if you truly want to change the school enviroment, a change in management will be needed.

    My regards to Kinnan Zaloom and to you all.

  8. I find it incredibly disgraceful & offensive that Head-teacher (Jacques Szemalikowski) has behaved & responded in such a manner, which demonstrate his total lack of awareness & understanding in an individual’s democratic right & freedom of speech and expression. He might not agree with the views expressed by Kinnan Zaloom (ex-student), but this young man has not committed any criminal offence.
    The Head teacher’s actions are inexcusable, unprofessional, vindictive and spiteful. He tried to play to the label of “extremist” to deflect from his own failings as a professional in enhancing and nurturing the aspirations of his students.

  9. To start of this post let me just say, this blog is complete and utter shit, a bit like Kinaan. I think we all know that Kinaan is a pussy who did nothing but suck up to the head while he was school and tell nobody about the so called “changes“ he wanted. I think it‘s safe to say that Kinaan has a track record of just “acting hard“ online but in real life? He‘s the complete opposite, instead he hides his head like an ostrich. It‘s sad to be honest. At the start I did like the blog, but when I had found out it was infact Kinaan who wrote it I felt embarrassed for him, he‘s a coward, really. He‘s a coward to reveal only when he‘s finishing hampstead school his identity, so he could get away scott free. But it didn‘t end up that way. No it didn‘t. Because the Head called the university you wanted to go to but it doesn't matter, because you couldn't even manage to get the grades needed.

    1. the internet is a place where everyone has right to say what they like as long as it doesn't break the law, and that's what kinnan did what he did. it also allows you to make the comment you just made. however your comment is shit, as the points you raise have no evidence to back them. please prove or provide a factual basis for the following intriguing comments:
      1) "kinaan has a track record of just "acting hard" online"
      2) "Kinaan is a pussy who did nothing but suck up to the head"
      3) "to reveal only when he‘s finishing hampstead school his identity, so he could get away scott free"
      also, it would help if you didn't switch from speaking in the 1st person to 2nd person, it will show that you aren't a total incompetent bastard.

  10. Since this is becoming such an embarrassment to the school, it's likely the head teacher will be fired.

    They may need to find out what the "Streisand effect" is.

  11. approval...don't sound very anarchistic.

  12. Former student at Hampstead School close to 10 years ago. Can say that there were some wonderful teachers there.

    What you are doing is great.

    I disagree with one thing re: Jacques getting the sack. He should no longer have this job. A person in this position abusing his power to actively undermine a student by contacting the police and a prospective university is disgusting.

    Get rid of this clown.

  13. Thank you for your EXCELLENT blog. Much appreciated.

    D. J. Nicholls (Dr.) (Schooled in the 1960s)

  14. For the second time I request the correction of facts. I never said the head was mad on the occasion referenced. I was merely pointing out the vast online reaction at the time.