Apart from the current construction of the new building, the next largest thing on the Head’s agenda is the most recent flurry of meaningless awards he can add to the footer of official school letters. We have already pointed out the nepotistic reality of the Level 2 Rights Respecting school Award, but another award graced our school this term. The Shine a Light Award was won by the school as it entails “innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people/s communication development”. How exactly could they justify giving Hampstead’s Management, exemplars of free speech amongst students, the award? The evidence submitted by, er, the school Management.
The case study says that “to encourage communication throughout the whole school, Hampstead School runs reward scheme - ‘star of the hour’…”. How has Star of the Hour ever helped communication? “Look what I got in lesson, bruv.” Star of the Hour points have as much to do with students communicating as what they lead to; winning an iPod or a bike at the end of the term. They also say “the school runs annual communication promotion weeks such as Listening Week, Talk Fest, Speak Week and regularly runs No Pens Day Wednesday”. Perhaps ‘regularly’ is a bit rich, since the last No Pens Day was last year, and that was one of two that have ever occurred. Equally, we don’t think Speak Week can qualify as ‘annual’ if it only happened this year, and we have never heard of or experienced ‘Talk Fest’, whatever that may be, so it must either be an aspirational event or simply so insignificant and fleeting that it has transpired something instantly forgettable.
In a press release the Head said of the award that “at Hampstead School we are determined that when learners achieve the qualifications to get them an interview, their ability to communicate with others secures the position”, which is slightly undermined by the slump in grades these past two years, suggesting that a significant margin of students will never get to use their ‘ability to communicate’ to secure a position, as they won’t even get the interview. Perhaps that is what the Head should be focusing his time on.
Back to the Buzz, and in an article about the exceptional conformity of the new Year 7’s, mentioned was the Year 7 concept of ‘Kaizen’, which manifests itself as an extended acronym full of contradictions, at least by Hampstead standards. ‘Play Your Part’ supposes twelve words (or personality traits), with the phrase ‘play your part’ seemingly suggesting students should work as a smaller part of a greater whole, which slightly goes against ‘Ambitious’, ‘Upstanding’ and ‘Yourself (don’t be a sheep)’ (which is hilarious coming from a school that enforces a strict uniform policy and public conformity under the banner of anti-defamation). Those are then contradicted by ‘Loyal’, which goes against ‘Persistent’ and ‘Proactive’, both attributes that the school’s Management seem to oppose publicly, as they are two we (hopefully) possess.
Then came an article about Hampstead students involved in Digital Leaders (a programme in which the school pretends to know something about the internet by delegating students to listen to people who know even less) visiting the Facebook headquarters. One such person that was lauded in the piece for giving students a ‘keynote speech’ on internet safety, the event itself being on ‘e-safety within the school’ (i.e blog blocking), was a Baroness Shields. Is this a person we want talking directly to our students, though? She was recently promoted to Minister for Internet Safety and Security by David Cameron, as part of his move to escalate UK military involvement in Syria, to counter terrorism and radicalisation online, rather than assumptions of anarchy, which seems to be the school’s only online qualms. Before that, she was Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook Europe; under her tenure at the firm, Facebook made roughly £200m, but only paid £200,000 in tax. Conflict of interest much? Good role model for Hampstead students?
The piece about Enrichment Day didn’t even have words attached to it, holding only photos, either as a sad indictment of the literacy of Hampstead or simply because words cannot describe how boring such days are (or they are so boring there is literally nothing to say about them). With nothing to say, the only reason the school would devote half a page to pictures of students playing with spaghetti might be that Ofsted inspection that warrants the school to present itself in the best way possible. Somehow the school’s rag has become more like propaganda.