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Inspirational school letter goes viral

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A heartwarming letter sent by a Lancashire primary school to its 11-year-old pupils has won praise from around the globe.

Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson and assistant headteacher Amy Birkett, of Barrowford school in Nelson, near Burnley, took the unusual step of writing directly to every student in Year Six when the children received their Key Stage 2 exam results, to reassure them “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,” the pupils were told.

A picture of the letter was posted on Facebook by one pupil's mother and quickly went viral, with her post shared almost 6,000 times alone and the name of the school trending on Twitter.

Many commentators suggested that the letter should be "the first thing" Nicky Morgan - Michael Gove's replacement - should read in her new role as education chief.

Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson said she has been surprised by the response to the letter.

"It isn’t that we don’t think tests are important, it is just that they are not everything," she told The Burnley and Pendle Citizen. "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.”

Birkett told Good Morning Britain: "They worked so hard during that week in May but it's also about everything they've done in the whole seven years of being at our school as well."

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.”

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