After the school was awarded Level 2 Rights Respecting School status, in spite of our protestations and the obvious issues that most students of the school could tell you, we contacted the Director of the Rights Respecting School Award to ask him some questions, as we were, expectedly, a little miffed.
First, we asked "What was the reasoning behind awarding the status to the school, in spite of the less than savoury evidence given not only by us but students as well on the day?" to which the reply was: "The Rights Respecting Schools Award is based on nationally agreed standards and uses a system of assessment that looks at all aspects of the school’s life and work. The assessment visit at Level 2 is followed up by a report that is sent to an our Accreditation and Standards Committee who read the evidence and agree whether the school meets all the criteria."
However, "all aspects of the school's life and work" doesn't seem to include evidence given outside of the evidencing spot: in reply to our question "Do you think the awarding system (specifically only taking evidence from a specific time period) flawed, in your personal opinion?" he gave the contradictory response "I hope that you will appreciate that individual situations and experiences outside the assessment process cannot, on their own, determine the school’s accreditation as Rights Respecting".
We also asked the questions "Do you think giving the award to a headship that has, in the past, so publicly defied moral judgement and leadership devalued the award as a whole?" and "Given the evidence provided, does the awarding of the status to Hampstead school suggest that the award can be achieved regardless of the school's track record? Does the large sum that has to be paid on the part of the school to go in for the award gear the process towards success over failure, so as not to waste public funds?" Expectedly, neither of which were given an answer. That said, he did add that "[the Trash's] concern is one that we will note and I will follow up with the headteacher" and "with the Professional Advisor for the school". Again, slightly missing the dynamic between us and the Management at Hampstead.
Now, we never expected to change anything; we are not naive enough to think that a few voices are enough to change anything, let alone fail a bureaucratic system geared towards success. The Director was right: our evidence is not enough to sway an entire judgement. However, we did think that we would at least make those at RRSA think twice as they assessed the school, perhaps allow the assessor to ask some more probing questions, 'evidence', as they put it, the Management on some of the 'concerns' we had raised on a truthful basis, or even do some research into the school's turbulent past themselves. Alas, we were wrong, and for UNICEF 'Ignorance is Strength'. Although, one thing we can walk away knowing is that we, as students, certainly don't believe our school is rights respecting, yet UNICEF does, so what does that make us think of UNICEF?
The final instalment of the RRSA bashing, detailing how much the award has cost the school, and hopefully aswering the question on funds above, will be available soon.