Tuesday, 18 August 2009

One Year On

Our mass audience has left. So have some teachers, and a great many pupils. But the anti-establishment spirit never dies, and although we're not resurrecting the blog we loved so dearly, we want to present a tribute on the anniversary of its last official post. Self-congratulatory and a bit narcissistic? Quite probably.

But, in ten months, we clocked up about 50,000 words (the length of a novel, really - Templar Truths: The Book, now there's an idea! Publishers, feel free to send us an email.) exposing the idiocy behind Temple Moor High School Science College, diligently working to bring you a comprehensive overview of news - more than a school newsletter did! At times, it was thorough. At others, an ill-informed mess. There was sarcasm, irony, real news and, often, outright vitriol. We know you missed it, so for one last time join us, if you will, to look at a school increasingly beyond parody.

What The Teachers Thought
We tried to ask as many teachers as we could - which, actually, turned out to be not that many at all - their thoughts on Templar Truths.

One teacher - who will remain anonymous under the pseudonym Barry - told us "it's just one less thing to check on the Internet every day!" Clearly, Barry's a bit of a screen addict who would sooner be found booking a holiday or checking statuses on Facebook than showing off a PowerPoint.

Sadly, but somewhat predictably, only got two replies. One was "delighted to contribute" and would do so in seven days...but never did. The second "jotted down a few notes" but then decided not to encourage us to forego our usual revision and educating to write a blog post.

Mr Fleetwood failed to even acknowledge our request for a comment. We offered free reign of commentary on Templar Truths but we never even got an email back. Why? We don't know. Perhaps he feared that commenting would lend us some legitimacy, and he'd prefer that we languish as rebellious teenage outcasts to be brushed aside and ignored. Sorry if that's the way you feel, Sir. Maybe he wanted to, but the responsibility of his role forbade him to tell us anything. We hope it's the latter, we really do.

What We Missed
The '08-'09 year went as you'd expect - only without any moderately witty, rage-filled commentary from Templar Truths. But here's what we would have blogged:
  • BSF: Mayhem, delays, fire alarms. You heard it all the year before, but we had quite the encore.
  • We're Not Racist, But...: Desperate to prove itself and flash some credentials, Temple Moor embarked on its plan to win the Stephen Lawrence Award - which was somewhat ruined by two major mistakes. We would have had a field day when one teacher - who shall remain anonymous - decided that "fancy dress" should involve blackfacing themselves to look like a football player, complete with rolled-up paper as dreadlocks. And then there's this screenshot from the school website (click to embiggen):

    This catastrophic error was swiftly rewritten as "discourage" - but they left all the other horrible grammar intact! And, of course, underneath this text were Microsoft Word documents - only they'd been embedded as images.
  • Fire Alarms: As mentioned in with BSF. At one point, there were five fire alarms in two weeks - four of them spread out over just two days. It wasn't all the builders' fault, there were also some gremlin children to blame.
  • The Newsletters: The school's monthly despatch suddenly got very decorative. Lots of fancy fonts and groovy text boxes. Simultaneously, there seemed to be a dramatic drop in the amount of writing. Now, we wouldn't dare be cynical enough to suggest that perhaps the two were related...although teachers seem to do the very same thing when you apply that method to homework. Next year, we'd love it if the powers that be actually produced letters with - and here's a ground-shaking idea - actual news. You know, things people might want to know about. Like, well, anything we've put on here.
  • Temple Moor Radio: Besieged by technical difficulties - well, what would you expect? - the school-based, web-accessed "radio station" and accompanying podcasts were developed throughout the school year. It wasn't a breakthrough success - because of the annoying technical problems - but bravo for Mr Booth pioneering a student-led radio effort.
  • Tap Revenge: Art rooms need taps, that's a given. What they don't need is taps where lots of water builds up, causing lots of pressure which is released in an explosion of H2O. Particularly when it goes on to ruin some students' work.
  • Pig Ignorant: Colour-blind* as always, the school insisted that their pig stamps were indeed pink and not red - as our readership agreed in a poll. This, of course, means that the farcically stupid "PD shop" scheme continued for its second year.
    *We say "colour-blind", but admittedly, the school is still favouring its red-amber-green ("RAG") system.
  • 1984: A disturbing trend has emerged in the English block: posters with the three slogans of "The Party" from George Orwell's 1984. They are: "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." Surely this is a bit strange, to be encouraging this sort of thing? The book posits a future world where civilians are strictly monitored, lied to, and controlled by the powers that be. You're supposed to accept two contradictory statements as both being being true, and freedom of speech is non-existent. Which mad person thought that that would fit in at Temple Moor...?
  • Time Warp: New school day trial systems were introduced in the final half term. Break was extended by ten minutes - hurrah! - and lunch was cut short by ten minutes - boo! - in an effort to cut costs. If a break goes on for longer than half an hour, staff have to be paid for it and so it's optional. But two thirty-minute breaks? Teachers can be forced into it, and paid nothing. Depending on your viewpoint, it's either despicable or economical. But instead of feeding 600 people in 40 minutes twice a day, the new task is to feed 1200 people in 30 minutes. But don't worry! Both half-hour breaks are supposed to be equal times to eat your balanced, nutritious food. Temple Moor: if it ain't broke, break it.
  • Biometrics: Presumably because BSF have spare money to throw around, the building project will now give us "biometric registration and library". This is probably meaning that we all scan our fingers as we go into school. It's not going to be used for crimes and misdemeanours around school, of course. Not yet, anyway.
  • Dinner Money: Bullies, you're going to have to come up with a new strategy (extortion rackets, illegal drugs, legal drugs - or none, if the school cracks down). The new grand plan is a "cashless canteen" - tied to the budget surplus for biometrics, above - which will probably involve this: adding monetary credit to a swipe card (or, more biometric data) and then using that to pay for your meals. The future is truly now.
  • Cut!: They must have failed the Stephen Lawrence award, so the school needed something to put on its credentials. Step forward the latest scheme: TMAK. That's "Temple Moor Against Knives" (there's even some snazzy T-shirts, naturally). Happily, though, they've got a good chance of beating inanimate objects.

Even as self-proclaimed guardians of truth (see our title), we're not always correct. In fact, we made some massive errors during our blogging days. But we're not massively keen on censorship and denying there's any problems - we'll leave that with the school itself - so we've collated some of the biggest mistakes we made.

The school production of 2009 wasn't Blues Brothers, as we'd hoped. Perhaps if we'd delivered on our promise of a campaign, it would have been. "The rumour that High School Musical will soon be staining our eyes and ears" turned out to be completely unfounded. Writer Flosh - who has since changed his blogging alias a dozen or so times - also assured us "it's 99% certain we're featuring Queen's 'We Will Rock You'". It's easy to get We Will Rock You mixed up with The Commitments, though.

"A buddy contact system has been recently set up" we told you in January 2008. Except it probably didn't. We were half-right with our revelation that "IT will be wireless". Well, some bits of the school system are wireless - there's even a guest wireless network that you can log on to - and they don't use WEP. Which just leads us onto the question of: what is the point of laptops with wireless capability, if they're chained to desks? That's Temple Moor's W2 room for you.

You'd think toughened cynics who don't believe a word of the official newsletters would be immune to shocking naivety. When we said "pupils are going to be given a chance to have a say in part of the school", we must have been on drugs (which we quickly dispensed of before the drugs raid came about, because we're sensible). The only time pupils were ever given a say in the running of any school was...never.

"The new cafeteria will take the same spot occupied by the current cafeteria" was our insider knowledge in February 2008. Were the builders too useless to figure this out? Or did plans arbitrarily change? We have no idea - but the new cafeteria is certainly not in the same place as the old one. The old one is now, of course, a two-for-one job - both the school's (considerably smaller) library and staff room are now there.

Luckily, we never suggested a BSF deadline. We would have been proved so very wrong choosing any date, thanks to their delays. Unluckily for Temple Moor, frequent estimations of completion dates were thrown around - and none of them have been correct yet. We must also apologise profusely for our failure to realise that Temple Newsam Halton Primary School can obviously be a stand-in for a Common Room - we clearly weren't thinking hard enough.

The Future
It's unlikely that Templar Truths will ever return. You could probably make a decent case that it shouldn't. This blog has run its course, exhausted its message and is now done. Of course, as long as those in power make the ridiculous decisions that they do, they will always be ridiculed. We at Templar Truths have done this enough now; we hope you enjoyed it.