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.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't refrain from commenting. Well written!

    ReplyDelete

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