Barrowford school's KS2 'proud' letter to pupils goes viral


A head teacher's "special and unique" letter has inspired messages from around the world

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A letter sent to pupils at a Lancashire primary school along with their key stage two test results has gone viral on social media sites.

The letter to pupils at Barrowford Primary School in Nelson told them the tests do not always assess what makes them "special and unique".

It has been posted on Facebook, Twitter and featured in national newspapers.

Head teacher Rachel Tomlinson said she had been "absolutely astounded" by the reaction in social media and elsewhere.

Mrs Tomlinson said she found the letter on a blog from the US posted on the internet.

Twitter posting Organisations have also tweeted the letter

It tells pupils the school is "proud" of them as they have demonstrated a "huge amount of commitment and tried your best during a tricky week".

But it adds that "these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique".

The people who drew up the tests, it says, "do not know each of you... the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do".

These people do not know "you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best", it continues.

The letter finishes by telling pupils to "enjoy your results" but to remember that "there are many ways of being smart".

Barrowford Primary School's letter in full
Letter to pupils

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.


The head denied the letter was telling pupils that test scores did not matter.

"We never give pupils the message that academic attainment isn't important - what we do is celebrate that we send really independent, confident, articulate learners on to the next stage of their school career."

Writing on Twitter, Barrowford school said: "Wow. There are posts all over the world about this letter!! All we did was remind our Y6 how amazing they are!!!"

That message was retweeted over 1,000 times, with the school's name trending on Twitter.

The 313 pupil school was rated as Good in its last Ofsted inspection in September 2012.

The Department for Education said the letter was "a matter for the school".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    I have worked with children in and out of schools whose major issue is lack of self-confidence - all they were ever told was they were failures, and so they saw no point in trying any more. Yes, they need to learn to fail, but that is LEARN, not just to FAIL. Children need encouragement and praise - if they have one thing to be proud of and good at, that can really help with their ability to learn

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.

    Academic achievement isn't the most important thing about our children. An adolescent psychotherapist, I've seen young people break under pressure to 'perform', believing they're valued only for their exam results. Education is crucial but isn't the only thing that contributes to happiness, self-esteem and fulfilment. The hysteria surrounding grades speaks volumes about parental insecurity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Special as everyone is, there is always room to do even better. That encouragement is sadly lacking in the letter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    I'm not suggesting that anyone should be horrible and crush children's dreams, but being honest about what they can and can't do is a necessary evil.

    It may upset them at the time to hear that they'll never be a brain surgeon, a footballer, a model etc. but at least they won't pin their hopes on something that isn't attainable.

    Praise and encourage each kid to focus on what they can do well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    My daughter will go to private school not just because she will get a better education there, but to keep her away from this type of no-ambition, no-expectations attitude that keeps the masses down in this country. Every single day I am amazed and dismayed at how most people's potential is battered down just so everyone does as badly as everyone else. I'm lost for any more words.


Comments 5 of 17


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