Friday, 21 July 2017

CLLR. HUGH G. RECTION Obituary

‘Sup wankstains, what’s good?

Had to have a little bit of tradition.

So this is it – my last article. No more fruity language. No more mad writings. I’ve hung up my anarchist’s blazer and exchanged it for my establishment gown. In four years of writing and editing this blog, I’ve gone from a naïve, immature fourteen year old who wrote articles about fictitious Hampstead students such as Mohammed Labanaah King (Jr.) and DoNaldé Trump, crudely fabricated parodies of school posters and the many numerous Abdis that pass through the school council chambers, to become an older, wiser nineteen year old who wrote articles about fictitious Hampstead students, crudely fabricated parodies of school posters and the many numerous Abdis that also find time for amusing cartography.

Well, those were the fun articles. The majority of the articles I wrote were extended rants about one aspect of the school or another that was, in some way, failing its students. So, strap in kids, it’s about to get irate. I am glad that, first and foremost, I have provided a critical point of view on the executive decisions during my time at Hampstead; I know it’s already not easy to ruin a school without the added annoyance of mouthy pedants at your back, but we tried our best. The Head is, to my mind, as vindictive as he is ignorant. He prides himself on idiotic ideas; on looking good but having no substance to match and playing God with students’ lives.

I think the scariest thing I ever saw him say was, when he kicked Kinnan out, that he would happily do it again, even to a younger student who may have been sitting their GCSEs or A Levels. For the first time I felt scared just by walking into my school, sitting in my lessons, because I saw that, even though I knew what I was doing was good and fine, the man who had, by some unnatural twist of fate, power and responsibility over 1,300 students, me being one of them, was willing and happy to expel me for saying that which he did not agree with. Where was his duty of care to me? At what point did everyone in that school accept that my freedom of expression was worth less than others’? I learned that Hampstead will never be a bully-free zone so long as that man is still there.

I realise that I have spoken almost exclusively about the Head, but my issues with the school do not extend to him and his premiership alone. The school management has been complicit in a transformation of the school whilst I was attending it that took it from an interesting, vibrant, creative place where an emphasis was put on a comprehensive education – by which I mean one that prized not only the core subjects, but the arts and humanities too, and backed them up with extra-curricular projects and activities that surfeited those from many other schools far more privileged than Hampstead – and has turned it into an claustrophobic, restrictive imposition that has seen funds taken away from educating children and put towards making the school look good rather than actually being good.

The Management, if they ever cared to respond, might say that in that time exam results have gone up. Who honestly cares if the exam results of the school go up? The only people I can think of who would care are the school themselves. Because at the end of the day, an individual student doesn’t take away the collective results of their school, nor do they take away how well the school is perceived, they take away their individual experiences during their secondary education. So why isn’t the school doing its utmost, as it used to, to maximise those experiences? Not every student is going to achieve straight A*’s across the board in any reality, so why not make their education about teaching them well, rather than what I experienced in my latter years, which was an education tailored for the specific requirements of an exam. I would rather have a school full of interested, knowledgeable, excited individuals than the current mass of shapeless uniformed antipathetic drones any day.*

I’m not saying that every member of the school’s Management is a bad person, just that most people in Hampstead have become uninspired with the change of focus. Many of the teachers that would happily spend lessons teaching students genuinely interesting subject matters – regardless of whether or not it’s on the curriculum – are too busy worrying about top buttons, or ties, or shirts, or blazers. Students are sent home because they came to school not wearing what the Head wanted them to wear, despite being there to go to lessons, something which uniform has nothing to do with. The school has become stifled by an emphasis from on high on the ephemera that plague school life over all else.

So why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t I move to another school for sixth form, I hear you ask. Even through all this, I kept a hold of the belief, the belief that we all shared, that perhaps I could change the school for the better in my time there. At the end of seven years at Hampstead, I can’t say it has. The school has become such a toxic, paralysing drudgery, with no room for freedom or creativity, that anything I tried to set about through the so-called ‘proper’ channels was quashed by bureaucracy. If anything, the school has slowly degraded itself in the time I have been there, and the Hampstead that I remember going into is a far cry from the pit of despair that I left last summer. And, you, the students, the parents, are letting happen! You sit idly by whilst the school gets dragged down with its Head.

The one thing that I am glad that I helped create whilst at Hampstead was this blog, because this little website has been the one thing that students have been able to use to hold the Management to account, to make them think twice before they do the next stupid thing on their list, to instil in them a sense that what they do cannot and will not go unaccounted. I am glad that this vessel of student opinion, genuine creativity, and expression, will continue to prosper after I am gone. Because there are students, few and far between, who have not fallen to the plague of apathy that hangs over them, who do care about how their school and their education is run. And, if for no serious reason, then I am glad that whatever hardship, whatever anxiety, whatever stress the school puts upon the students, they have something to laugh about in this blog.

So, despite the best efforts of the Head actively trying to derail my educational career for petty revenge based on the suspicion I was involved in the Trash (you know what you did), I get to sit here in my room at Cambridge all smug and say that now I’m doing the course of my choice at the university of my choice with the person I love right by my side. I hope us Trash writers serve as testimony that you can do well at Hampstead, even if you don’t want to conform with what the school thinks is right for you, and I hope that annoys the Head to no end. And although I owe a debt of gratitude to individual teachers, I refuse to allow the Head and the school to use my success as an example of their own achievements.

Another tradition is to end with a quote. It took me a long time to think of one that was poignant without being sappy. The best I could think of comes from Blackadder Goes Forth,  and I feel sums up Hampstead School: “If nothing else works, then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.”


P.S I’m still owed a plaque. Where is it?

P.P.S After this article comes out, student readers should feel free to let me know how long my graduation photo lasts on the English Block walls before it’s taken down.

P.P.P.S If you feel you haven’t got your fair share of expletives from my obituary, I suggest you go and listen to some System of a Down, Limp Bizkit, or anything Shaun Ryder has ever said.


*This isn’t entirely the school’s fault either. The current government is responsible for the majority of changes to the education system, the ones that regard grading and examination being to make the system harder, less intuitive and more restrictive.

HEAD BOY Obituary

In a slight break from tradition, we got a past Head Boy of Hampstead school to submit their own obituary about their time at the school...

What’s up, f**knuggets?

You might recognise me as that twat that turned up to your assemblies last year and spewed bollocks about democracy while you did your best to ignore me. I don’t blame you. I’m writing this article to give you some valid advice feed my own raging ego share my irrelevant opinions on your school. Contrary to what literally no one might think, I never wrote an article for the Trash during my time at Hampstead, despite being an avid fan. The Trash represents an important part of student voice to me (and its f**king funny), but I haven’t always shared the full extent of its opinions. Hopefully, my obituary can bring some balance to the vitriolic and dangerously anarchist nature of the other articles being published this week.

Reading over Kinnan’s grand exit from a couple of years ago, I realised that we had fundamentally different experiences of Hampstead. While he experienced what he felt was a school in decline, my time has been more balanced. There have been some negative changes (RIP School Pond), and I didn’t have the most typical time**, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed myself there.

The teachers at Hampstead, like many teachers, are some of the best people in the world. For a start, they manage to deal with you little s**ts five days a week without even getting to hit you. More than that, they have some kind of pathological ability to actually care about you and your futures. Appreciate them.

My opinions on the school management are slightly more varied. Certainly, I don’t reserve anywhere near as much hate for Jacques as the rest of the writers on here do. His Christmas stories are lit and though his obsession with statistics, results and uniform seem pointless to us, they may well prove the thing that saves Hampstead from the current anti-comprehensive political climate. Let him do his job and focus on passing your Scientology GCSE or something.

My most significant criticism of the school is the same one levelled two years ago. Extra-curricular activities are what change a school from an exam factory to an actual place. They are where most memorable parts of school life happen and they provide more value than a lifetime of PSHCE lessons. (Seriously, f**k PSHCHEHCE. Ms Cifyou’rereadingthisI’msorryyou’vebeenamazingly helpfultomeandthedebatesocietyforyearsbutIreallyreallyhatePSHCEnothingpersonal). The debate society has had more than it’s fair share of controversy, but it is also one of the valuable assets the school has and if it goes, or dies by becoming teacher led, you will never get it back. The same is true for every other extracurricular thing there is: put the production back in the hall and let the music department provide the music; have more than two music events a year and have enough going on that the Year 11 band don’t have to play Runaway under duress for everything. There are passionate teachers and talented students in every area of the school but they’ll never be realised if you suffocate their ideas.

Finally then, a wider note for prospective and current parents, Ofsted, the Illuminati, Obama and any students who don’t know me well enough to completely disregard my opinion. Hampstead is a mixed ability comprehensive school and its results will never be top of the league tables. Who gives? It served me better academically than I could ever have hoped for and I owe the school, it’s teachers and even the management *audible gasp from regular readers* pretty much everything. Don’t let it become an academy or get replaced by a free school. Don’t send your children to selective schools just because you don’t like pebbledash (it grows on you, honest) or for almost any other reason actually. Your children will be fine; they’re not as special as you think they are. Take an active part in everything you can. A school is what you make it and I made Hampstead great (That’s right, szmell my narcissism motherf**kers).

love,
Former Head Boy and Head of Debating, Triangle enthusiast, Proud wasteman.



Final note: A massive shoutout to every teacher I ever interacted with and all those who I didn’t but who probably impacted my life anyway. In particular, DPatz (RIP in retirement, you deserve it), Ms N, Mr. A (you all know who you are), and surprise surprise, the Maths department, past and present. Also, the science technicians. You never get enough recognition from anyone (fix this, Jacques) and you’re all talented, knowledgeable and generally amazing.

#freeAstudent
Don’t get gassed Astudent, this is ironic and you’re a pleb.

#reformschoolcouncil
This one isn’t ironic. School council has been consistently flaccid since forever. Make it something more than a figurehead, so it can stand proud and tall, thrusting Hampstead forward into the future. Or something.



**If you don’t know what this means, good for you. Ask someone older than you and they’ll probably tell you something 30% true which you can go on believing for about 12 minutes until you forget it. No, this isn’t a reference to my sexuality, which is a closely guarded secret only partially related to lemons. Fruity.


DISCLAIMER: all the words, remarks and opinions are the author's own, and do not represent the views or opinions of the Hampstead Trash. In line with our policy of anonymity, any names mentioned have been redacted, although if you have been at Hampstead in the past two years you will probably have worked them out.

HEYWOOD JABLOME Obituary

‘Sup, wankstains, what’s good?

Hello again. Make yourself at home, grab a cup of tea or coffee, take a pew, and read some words. This obituary has been on my to-do list for some time, but being over the age of 18 and having left Hampstead, I have much better things to do with my spare time. OK that’s a lie, but I should at least make it out like I’m cool, yeah?

To be honest, to anyone who’s relatively new to Hampstead, or the Trash, this obituary will make no sense. I’ve been away from the beauties of the quad and the pond… wait, didn’t they build the New New Block over those? I’m showing my age.

As is becoming more and more obvious by the word that I’m out of touch with the modern Hampstead, just like while I was when I was still there, the powers that be were out of touch with the modern world (I’ll take it for granted that is still the case).

No doubt the vast majority of readers will remember the Sludge obituary. Lots of angry paragraphs, great jokes, and spot on criticism of the SLT and the Head. However, because the idiot genius put a photo of his ugly mug himself on it, and all the fallout that followed (and gave us 15 minutes of fame), the rest of us writers decided to delay our obituaries until we were safely secure in whatever we decided to do after Hampstead.

However, this means that any criticisms of the s**t I had to put up with that I can write here and now are irrelevant to the student who puts up with s**t in the modern day. So, if anyone can remember the article Sludge wrote a year on from his obituary, this will read more like that.

I’m now a student at University. I sit around all day doing nothing, and writing all my coursework essays at the last minute – so no change from what I did at Hampstead. But the lecturers and seminar teachers sit off a lot, and don’t get involved, don’t check up on you. That’s a big change from Hampstead, and that’s something I’ll miss. We all moan about teachers, about wanting them to leave you alone. And I notice I’m starting to sound like a crap end-of-year assembly, but they have you in their best interests: don’t give them a hard time like I did.

Those who do deserve a hard time, are the SLT. From afar, it sounds like it continues to be a revolving door, where SLT members go on from being a deputy head at Hampstead to getting the number one job at a better school than ours, while ours regresses in the exam statistics year by year under the same leadership. Sounds like Wenger at Arsenal – no wonder that mural by the water fountains remains there 12 years on from that FA Cup penalty shootout win in Cardiff (actually, it might not still be there, because of the new block. Christ, I feel old). Maybe you’ll have to start marches with banners reading “Jacques, thanks for the 5-year-trend but it’s time to say goodbye” and “Szmexit”.

No doubt with the new block there are new stupid rules. Blazers must remain on at all times, no taking it off in the summer and no coats in the winter. Anyone not wearing a tie will be hung with one found in lost property, then drawn and quartered with a CaterLink plastic knife. Gimmicks like ‘No Pens Day’ and ‘Drop Everything And Read’ are joined by something even more ridiculous like ‘Tweet Your Revision’: to combine the idea of simplifying things for revision so you remember it, and being Down Wiv Da Kidz (© 2004). Or creating an app for Year 9s for when they have to choose their GCSE subjects, and Year 11s with A Levels, that recreates the Tinder swiping but with subjects. At least until departments use the photos of their hottest teacher to entice students to pick their subject (I’m torn between which department is most likely to catfish, but then all the good teachers, and probably the hot ones too, from my time will have no doubt left by now).

Being at uni, I’m too busy in a haze of drinking, hangovers, and all-nighters writing essays at the last minute to even consider what it must be like at Hampstead now. Not only have I not been there since I left, I’ve not even gone past it on the C11 on the way to Brent Cross or anything (189 crewe 4 lyf boi). Europeans in 1350 would have avoided the Plague less gravely than I have Hampstead.

And, as Sludge wrote in his anniversary article, Uni is just as bad as Hampstead. The powers that be at Unis are just as obsessed with statistics as the SLT at Hampstead. Student Unions are even more cancerous than School Councils: imagine the jumped up twats that think they can make a difference in school – the jumped up twats at Uni are like them on every performance enhancing steroid under the sun. Both think they can make a difference, but they can’t and won’t, when most students at both institutions are too interested drinking (especially those bloody alcoholic Year 7s getting waved on half a WKD). At the end of the day, it just becomes another thing to list off on CVs as they go on to become a politician or political journalist. You know how much criticism of the school council we’ve written, it’s no wonder that MPs make so many howlers when it’s the same idiots in both situations.

So, as I end this long, meaningless ramble before I drink myself paralytic once again, I have a quick read through my old articles, and it’s stunning how much crap I had written. Cookie Cartels, pre-empting Narcos by a couple years; about 5 articles slagging off Buzzfeed (some of my favourite stuff), articles slagging off both the Buzz and ETC (including one that implies a student-teacher relationship, Jesus Christ), and further crap jokes about football, betting companies, then-contemporary political issues and rewriting various TV shows as at Hampstead. If you haven’t read them, please do, as they’re probably better than anything I’ll ever write since, and I’m a student doing an essay-based degree who wants to go into journalism of one kind or another.

So, as politics becomes even more mental than the satire we dream up while tripping after licking toads dissected in science; with The Donald, the unbarrageable Farage, Jez We Can Corbyn, Theresa May, Blair’s return, Big Vlad Putin fighting topless in Syria instead of with Bears… Continue to enjoy school for what it is: a massive doss and a big pisstake for three years, then suddenly massively important for your life destiny for the next four. Enjoy Hampstead for what it is, a middle-of-the-road inner London comp, where working class and middle class; white, black, and brown; Christian, Jew, and Muslim; all mingle together (this sounds like prospective brochure guff), all sell cookies to one another, all take the piss out of one another, and all get pissed off with the mess that is the school management.


Sludge signed off with a reference to American Psycho. My reference will be a bit more naff. Morrissey once sung that “belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools.” He’s not too far off the mark for North West London schools too.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A (New) New Funding Formula

Education Secretary Justine Greening's recent announcement of £1.3bn in additional funding for schools in England has been welcomed, at times cautiously, by some, including Hampstead's own head (on national television no less), but has also faced criticism on the basis of it being drawn from within the Dept. for Education's budget, rather than from the Treasury.

Although many schools may feel at least slight relief at additional funding being on the cards, some have argued that the additional funding fails to keep up with rising staff costs, inflation, as well as increases in pupil numbers. While Greening asserted that secondary schools would receive at least £4,800 per pupil, it is not clear that there is a strictly linear relationship between pupil numbers and funding requirements. It is apparent that to provide an education for more pupils, a school would need more money, but to actually accommodate systematically (i.e. through the construction of new facilities etc.) for more pupils, schools could require exponentially more funding than the increase in the number of pupils they will experience. The £4,800 figure for core per-pupil funding will be an increase for a number of schools, but with regards to it actually being enough for schools to accommodate increasing pupil numbers and additional teaching staff, it is a very imprecise promise.

A significant source of criticism has concerned the more general vagueness surrounding the announced plans for funding, particularly with regards to where cuts (at times referred to as "efficiencies") will be made within the Department for Education's overall budget. Of the £1.3bn promised, £600m will be sourced from cuts to unspecified parts of the DoE's budget, £200m from the free schools budget, and an additional £420m from the capital buildings and repairs budget.

The idea of "fair funding", although sound in principle, at times appears to be more of a persistent catchphrase, rather than a considered belief. As long as school funding remains insufficient in wider terms, a contradiction remains in referring to "fair funding".

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, schools "probably won’t have to make much in the way of additional cuts but it’s important to say schools have already experienced very significant cuts already over the last two or three years". If these cuts are to be considered as a form of 'damage', then we might ask whether the recently announced cash injection is enough to reverse it.

We might also be compelled to inquire about the Head's flourishing TV career and just how people have been paid off, murdered, or kidnapped and imprisoned for the sake of satiating his megalomanic ego. At this rate, it appears he might actually be spending more time talking to news reporters than to his own pupils, although it is hard to imagine many pupils regretting that they don't have more bland conversations with a man who, time after time, has shown himself to be largely incapable of seeing very far beyond his own nose. During his latest foray onto the nation's screens, the Head remarked that while "the devil's in the details", referring to cuts to other parts of the education budget, "from a schools point of view this level of investment is welcome". While strictly speaking the Head's remarks were not "wrong", they added nothing to the wider conversation about the changes to school budgets, and his role in the broadcast was essentially that of a replaceable character, the Headteacher whose views, although specific to a single school, are supposed to be a fair representation of the views of thousands of other headteachers. By appearing for 30 seconds on TV, the Head worked not to offer another point of consideration for parents, students and the wider public, but instead worked to legitimize the establishment's take on the issue and increase his own public standing. In the spirit of fairness, it is worth acknowledging that editing lies in the hands of news broadcasters, and perhaps the Head did make a significant point (I sincerely doubt this however, especially given how stock at least some of what he said during the interview for the broadcast was), but it is equally worth acknowledging that people, especially those who have tangled with the media so many times before, should consider how their words, in conjunction with the position from which they say them, will be used to further certain narratives and agendas. Of course, when the lights shine and the camera swivels, none of that really matters.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

65% of Sixth Formers Have "Gone to the Shop"

In a renewed drive to "get hip with the kids", the SLT have made a series of bold forays into the worlds of Snapchat and Instagram, seeking to "discover and connect with the real Hampstead".  

With the help of Snapchat's new mass surveillance tool "Snap Maps" feature, the SLT have been able to quantify, in precise terms, the number of Sixth Formers who enjoy the smooth and refreshing taste of Malbikeshed, originally named for the long running Hampstead tradition of lighting one up behind the bikesheds. 

According to official figures, at any given point in the school day, at least 65% of Sixth Formers will have "gone to the shop", a popular euphemism for a smoke break, their wildly inaccurate bitmojis showing the same paths to bum a lighter off someone before heading to one of two widely-used smoke spots.

In light of the SLT's new findings, some have called for the Head to "capitalize fantastic business opportunity", with cigarette vending machines, Hampstead brand lighters and corporate sports team sponsorship deals expected to generate huge profits if introduced. 

Others have argued against the publication of the figures, claiming "anyone too thick to realize how many people smoke doesn't deserve to know."

DISCLAIMER: This article is a spoof.