THE headteacher of Eton has echoed the message of teachers from a Pendle school, who told pupils not to worry about exam results.
Last month Barrowford Primary School sparked international headlines after pupils in their final year all received an inspirational letter, signed by headteacher Rachel Tomlinson and Year 6 teacher Amy Birkett, saying: “The scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.”
A photograph of the note written to pupil Charlie Owen went viral, being posted on Twitter by teachers and celebrities who were moved by it.
Now Tony Little, who is due to retire next year from his post at the school attended by David Cameron and Prince Harry, has given his backing to the teachers. In an article for the Radio Times, he argued that it is ‘misleading’ to focus only on areas such as exam results, as there is a risk that this then becomes more important than education overall.
Mr Little said he was interested by the public response to the letter, which saw the message either as 'an overdue and necessary personal support of children, or a betrayal of their futures'.
He said: “I have some sympathy with the criticism. We have a national tendency to underestimate what young people are capable of achieving academically, in some cases dramatically so, and our expectations should be high. We should allow no excuse for poor teaching. A sharp focus on performance is a good thing, but there is a great deal more to an effective and good education than jostling for position in a league table.
“The Lancashire teachers were right — there are many ways of being smart. For a start, measuring only the easily measurable, such as exam results, can be misleading. “There is a real risk that the measurable parts become more important than the whole. And we compound the problem by having an unimaginative exam system, little changed from Victorian times.”