Thursday 5 September 2013

Editorial: A reaction to the Camden New Journal article (and open letter to the head)

Hello and welcome to our new readers, brought here by the fantastic article by Pavan Amara in this week's Camden New Journal (CNJ), out today and available for free. Here is a link for those unable to get a copy.

The Article is on the front page of the print copy. It is the lead article on the CNJ website. In the print copy, it has bumped the latest news on the murder of Sabrina Moss to page 6, and potential voting fraud in the 2010 General Election to page 11. SLUDGE's story occupied Pages 1, 2 and 3. So, Mr Shawaddywoddykowski, the Trash is big news.

In reality, when Kinnan set up this blog, it was never meant to reach this scale. We have had 9000+ hits since the start of February, a clear guide to how many people appreciate the satirical nature of our blog, and clearly a show of people who feel disenfranchised from the direction the school is going.

You called us dangerous. You called Kinnan "a developing anarchist". Regardless of Kinnan's political views and whether he believes in it or not, agreeing with anarchism is not illegal. And we aren't dangerous. We have never threatened to attack or harm anything or anyone. The only danger is to your ego. We aren't a paramilitary, we aren't fighting a dictator who will gas those who don't agree. All we do is post a few jokes at the school's expense, often about students and their habits, not at the staff themselves; then occasionally we criticise your and your SLT's decisions, like the change from 8:40 to 8:35, or giving Sixth-formers late detentions.

There are things we agree on, like the involvement in the legal challenge against AQA after the Summer exams in 2012, or the opposition to Education Secretary Michael Gove's scrapping of Speaking & Listening in English mid-course. Yet the fact you blocked us on the school website in April, and expelled Kinnan in July, is hypocritical to your previous actions and words on three levels.
  1. Rights of a Child. You have had these printed in our planners, painted on walls and used in assemblies in order to get some award from UNICEF that you can use on the front of the planner and on the bottom of letters home. Yet you haven't abided by them. Article 13: Freedom of Expression, was broken by excluding Kinnan before threatening to exclude anyone else who "brings the school into disrepute", the claim used to exclude Kinnan. Article 17: Access to information from Mass Media, was broken by blocking the old URL of the blog. 
  2. Excluding students who swear. This has never happened, and will never happen. If it did, three-quarters (a conservative estimate) of the school would have been expelled by now. This leads me nicely onto my next point.
  3. Hypocrisy over the Head's dealing of the 'Sachsgate' listening exam. After students in Year 10 studied the tapes of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross's phone call to Andrew Sachs. This included the sentences "he fucked your granddaughter" and "lovely, lovely sex". The head defended the use of this for a Controlled Assessment by saying "I think it is a totally appropriate thing to be doing. We are in the real world and children live in the real world. The unit is all about how people react to language and the limits of freedom of expression and this was a very famous snippet. It’s all about interpretation." Yet in response to enquiry to the CNJ he says "His posts were scattered with the f-word and c-word and if a student spoke like that in school they would be expelled. So of course I blocked the blog, and told him never to come back. He’s right, if he had been younger, he would have been expelled." 
Reaction to the article by the CNJ has been unbelievably one sided; supporting us. Someone has posted it on Reddit, with comments overwhelmingly in our favour; it's also been shared on Twitter by a writer for the Radio Times, and the Education Editor for The Guardian. So, it's time for the Head to concede that he was in the wrong about blocking the Trash, and banishing Kinnan. We don't want much, our only requests are to be allowed to post without threats, and to have any suggestions we make to be treated seriously. Considering this is a satire blog, that is going to happen rarely. But the main thing is, this blog was set up to create a bigger student voice; with over 9,000 hits and an article in the CNJ that seems to be taking off as we speak, we can safely say that we have been successful.


  1. If you are as disgusted with the school's management as I am and would like the Board of Governors to hear your complaint write to-

    Margaret Johnson
    Clerk to Governing Body
    Hampstead School
    Westbere Road
    NW2 3RT

    Don't just let your opinion be known online!

  2. i am a former student at hampstead school and am absolutely disgusted that someone who is intrusted with the education of students can strive to destroy one of there futures by violating their right to free speech. Mr.smellmycockski as we used to call him ( feel free to call him that h.trash) joined the school while i was there and was instantly hated by everyone, students and staff alike. He took over from Andy Knowles, who now has a senior post in Camden Council’s education department, he worked there for 20 years so feel free to let him know, im sure he will not be happy.

    we knew he was a dush bag, now thanks to kinnan the world knows it

  3. I think you are forgetting that the main purpose of state education is to provide a compliant and obedient population. The first world war couldn't have been fought in the way it was if it wasn't for the brainwashing of the hoi-polloi at government indoctrination centres known as schools.
    The headmaster is doing what he is paid to do - stamping out anti-government ways of thinking

  4. I used to teach there. It was once a great place. He destroyed it.

  5. Isn't it ironic that the headteacher believes individualism and anarchy, two ideologies based on voluntarism NOT the use of force are more dangerous and 'out there' than a social democracy that requires a monopoly on the use of force in order to expropriate its own citizens to (coincidentally) pay this guys salary. The British education system is a joke!

  6. I also went to a pretty shonky school. If there had been blogs then I bet I'd have gotten in this kind of trouble. University will be much better.

    And remember, not everyone in power is a dick -- it's easy to start judging all people with power by the negative things you hear. Not everyone is corrupt, evil or stupid.

  7. If people weren't so fucking ignorant they'd have read a little about anarchism and realised that there are many flavours of it and it has fundamentally zero to do with violence - it is about asserting individual sovereignty and cooperating with smaller groups of people in society rather than relying on a massive, bloated, and in most cases wicked state government.

    The people who criticise you are statists, they think government is the answer to everything whether it's toothache in kids or war in the middle East - the idea that the answer could lie in crowdsourcing and localism is literally offensive to their warped worldview.

    Anyway chums, keep at it.

  8. Will dissent be permitted? The answer to that question will determine whether the society is a free society or a fear society.
    Natan Sharansky

  9. Wonderful blog. Congratulations and keep on with it!


  10. Behind you guys 100% - That moron was head master of my secondary school for a few years back in 2003, completely ran it down worse than it was before, then when he was ASKED TO LEAVE buggered off trying to make out he'd gotten some big promotion and left everyone else with his mess. We nearly had to be put under special measures if I remember rightly, luckily we actually got a decent head after him who slowly got things improving somewhat. Suffice to say we all hated Szemalikowski with a passion! Even many of our teachers (obviously not naming names) openly agreed with us as to just how useless the man was/is and actually refer to his time as the head as 'the dark years' of our school (not to try and claim the place has ever been perfect but it could have been considerably worse - which he had a good go at trying for!). Complete fool with no idea how to relate to students or run a school.

  11. Great article, story and comments.

  12. Would the headmaster have accused Kinnan of "violent extremism" for writing a critical blog, had he not been of Palestinian origins?

    Headmaster is a vendictive, bigoted, racist loser and should be fired. He's not fit to run a school.

  13. any headmaster who attempts to legitimate reporting a child to the police by stating that the child "has even said that there is an inherent risk that every government is corrupt", REALLY should be sacked in my opinion. It's as if he was trying to teach students to NOT think critically and sceptically!! I don't know if this particular headmaster has heard of the Enlightenment, but it sounds as if he could do to read up on it (and perhaps have the courage to concede that he could do to handle such situations with much more maturity, wisdom and wit - for goodness sake!)

  14. 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

  15. As a former Hampstonian - if that is the correct term - back in the days when students walked-out, sat-in and were very much SEEN AND HEARD with our democratic voices... I'm shocked and horrified by this head's actions and attitude, but cheered very much by your blog and critique of all that is wrong with our education system.. Sad that Hampstead, once a beacon of liberalism, artistic and musical excellence plus a stomping ground for all things cool - has come to this. Shame on Szemalikowski

  16. Now aged 57 I was a school student at Hampstead from 1968. Even then, when it was still a relatively new comprehensive, we had all sorts of problems with the school, the way it was run and its then head: the assumption because we were 'kids' that we had no rights or voice; that we should do what we were told without question; that we might be listened to but what we said wouldn't ultimately count for anything. But of course these issues were not confined to Hampstead. They were, and still are, inextricably bound up with how all schools are constituted and what they seek to do in terms of perpetuating the status quo. At that time we had a religious education (RE) teacher who, being a member of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, would get out an almost full-term dead baby which was preserved in formaldehyde in a bottle that he would use in his anti-abortion and anti-sex propaganda. There was a sadistic 'discipline master' and a head who professed liberal values but when it came down to it adopted strategies well in accord with the previous school (Haberdashers' Askes) motto — still visible on the old school building — 'Serve and obey' — which kind of summed it up. Unfortunately the old battles many of us fought then need fighting anew. When I was at Hampstead there was within secondary schools generally a culture of opposition. This was epitomised by the existence of various bodies: the Schools Action Union, the National Union of School Students, a Youth Aktion Kommittee, the Schools Anarchy Propagation Action Group (and others) and a flourishing alternative schools magazines scene. Many of us were part of the walk-outs and sit-downs within and without the school which we organized or were organized by schools students elsewhere all of which had a profound and long-lasting politicising effect on us. Though it proved to be a powerless talking shop whose voices might merely 'be noted' we established a Schools Council, helped get rid of corporal punishment (the cane) and ensured the demise of the school uniform. But that was then and this is now. All power to you and carry on the good work!

  17. I used to go to this school in the 90's It was a shithole then, with crappy teachers and an egotistical head, and it seems not much has changed.