The Head's message kicked off with some trademark spin that would have a merry-go-round reeling, stating: "We returned in September to some very pleasing examination results. In particular, at Key Stage 5, students performed very strongly." Not quite true. As regular Trash readers will remember, whilst in some areas Sixth Form (KS5) results increased last summer, we reported a drop in pass rates among other things, with 8% of A-levels failing to achieve a grade.
He went on to say: "Consequently, and perhaps influenced by these, we welcomed a record number of external students joining our Sixth Form, which is now the largest it has been." Woah, stop there. The only way a student's decision to go to a Sixth Form could be 'influenced' by the summer's results is if they chose off the back of them not to go to Hampstead; the applications for Hampstead Sixth Form have to be in by the previous December. Whilst it may be its largest intake so far, they still have yet to find a sixth form-specific area of the school to house all these students like they used to, and even then it's a time-honoured tradition at Hampstead to let anyone into their Sixth Form only to kick roughly half out at the end of Year 12 when their results would reflect badly on the school if they were allowed to continue attending.
Also mentioned was the Ofsted inspection that had long been looming over the school. Of this, the Head said: "This was a really positive experience as the report shows and I would urge you to read it on our website." However, he neglected to mention how the school was scored. After telling us emphatically in assemblies for two years leading up to the inspection - and before the previous one - that this time the school won't just be good, but it will be outstanding, the school "continues to be good". Oh well, better luck next time. I can't wait to see it on next year's planners: "This school continues to be good." Catchy.
"In October, the focus was very much on packing up in preparation to abandon the 1960s and old science blocks." But not on education, no. In fairness, the old block did need replacing, something which we have always agreed, but the way in which it has been undertaken has been done so in a classically Hampstead lacklustre way. Even now the Eastern Bloc is inhabitable, there are still issues that, as we have previously reported, could have been avoided. The Head himself admits to "an incredibly restricted site".
The rest of the Buzz included an array of reports on the still-surviving extra-curricular clubs and generic Yute activities, the one pleasing sight in an otherwise mire of turtle-wax turd-polishing. One article that caught my eye was the one about the result of those upturned cabinets with dirt in them: "autumn term kicked off with our potato harvest. Two classes of Year 8 Food Tech students worked with the Business Department to design a product to sell to their peers, using our school-grown potato harvest. One group chose to make samosas and the other group made pakoras, hosting busy lunchtime stalls." However, the team that made the most money was the one that sold bags of weed, turned their potatoes into chips and had their stall open till two in the morning.
Apart from some out-of-context UNICEF rights being quoted, the final word was on a new app the school was trying come the Autumn term. The article stated that the school had "introduced the MyEd App alongside its text and e-mail communications. Information was sent out to parents/ carers in the summer post [...] Please do not unsubscribe to the school’s e-mail service." The email and text systems the school use to contact parents en masse have been shown, as we have reported, to be very costly to the school (see Trash passim), so having an app 'alongside' these systems as well implies the school are wasting even more money trying to be hip and trendy, all because they are too technologically illiterate to find the Bcc button. With other forays into the app world being also as costly and a largely pointless way of trying to show relevance, we suspect that this new initiative will quickly become just another iBehave, Show My Homework, etc. in the making.