In the small milling town of Nelson on the rolling English countryside, sits a tiny elementary school with a giant heart. Its motto is “Learn to Love, Love to Learn”.

This year, after completing testing, Barrowford Primary School sent a remarkable letter to its students attached to their scores. This letter, reproduced below, captures everything that is right with teaching. It reminds children that they are more than a test score. It values their individuality as musicians, artists, siblings and neighbors.

Charlie Owen, a student of Barrowford whose letter was retweeted 2,000 times said: “I felt really proud of my school…it tells me that I can do anything”.

With all the shortcomings of modern education, this letter reminds us to hope and dream. That small schools and small initiatives can make a large impact. Here’s the letter (keep a napkin handy)…


Dear Meredith,

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.


Barrowford Primary School