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East Lancs headteacher's letter to students goes global
A LETTER written by a headteacher telling her pupils not to worry about exams has become a global hit.
In her message to Year 6 leavers from Barrowford Primary School, Rachel Tomlinson wrote: “The scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.”
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A picture of one of the letters written to pupil Charlie Owen went viral yesterday with thousands of people sharing the image on social media.
Celebrities and teachers on Twitter spoke of being moved by the message while others said it was the first thing new education minister Nicky Morgan should read.
The letter also said: “We are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique.”
Top TV presenter Gabby Logan tweeted to her 338,000 followers: “I'm a bit teary now.”
Author Sir Kenneth Robinson, an international advisor on education to the government, said: “Beautiful and so right.”
By the end of yesterday the message was trending among American Twitter users.
Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson said she was stunned by the response to their 'rounded and grounded' policy which does not over-emphasise academic achievement.
She said: "It isn’t that we don’t think tests are important, it is just that they are not everything.
"I’m surprised at the reaction as this is how we always speak to our children. We have a ‘rounded and grounded’ policy where we teach them that personal values are important too.
“We thought we would write something to them this year - they are the ones who sit the tests. Then we found wording on a blog we thought was perfect.
”It has been lovely and overwhelming to get such a positive response to the way we do things here.”
The letter, written jointly by Mrs Tomlinson and assistant headteacher and Year 6 teacher Amy Birkett, was handed directly to pupils outlining their Key Stage 2 results.
It is thought to be the first school in the UK to speak directly to ten and 11-year-olds about their SAT results in this way.
Unions said it championed the role of teachers over standardised testing and centralised controls over education, the main bone of contention with the now-former education chief Michael Gove.
NUT leader Simon Jones said: “I support completely the approach taken by this school and congratulate them for making this alternative view public. It’s in stark contrast to the current climate of fear which exists in many schools who are so worried about Ofsted and results that they forget about this message.”
Charlie's mum Alison Owen’s Facebook post was the beginning of the online media storm with 5,855 shares of her page alone.
The former teacher at Park Primary and mum-of-three said she was delighted at the school’s approach.
Alison, who runs Barrowford Pet store with husband Chez, said: “Charlie’s done really well and we are proud parents.
"I just wanted to share our amazing school with my mum friends to show it isn’t all doom and gloom.
"The letter represents the school approach down to a tee. I know schools who come to a standstill for the SATS but ours carry on and keeps things in perspective.
“We feel really passionate about that because they are just children and do better without the pressure.”
Fellow parent Rachel Bentley said: “It's so reassuring to know the headteacher actually has the right idea about these tests and reassures each and every one of her pupils no matter what their ability is.”
Mrs Tomlinson said they were pleased to have recorded the school’s best ever results - some children two levels above average and 94 per cent on target with English and maths.
The school was last inspected in 2012 and awarded a good Ofsted rating, an improvement from the previous satisfactory rating.”
THE LETTER IN FULL
Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.
However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.
They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.
They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.
They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.
They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.
So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.