The major college letter written in Lancashire that went about the globe

When Alison Owen posted a photograph on Facebook of a letter her son Charlie had brought residence from his Lancashire principal school final July, she had no notion that inside days it would have touched a chord with millions of strangers all around the globe.

The letter, sent to all yr six pupils at Barrowford college in Nelson, close to Burnley, informed each and every youngster they should be “very proud” of their energy in the essential stage 2 (KS2) exams, but cautioned: “We are concerned that these exams do not always assess all of what it is that makes each of you unique and special.”

It continued: “The folks who create these tests and score them do not know every single of you – the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and definitely not the way your families do. They do not know that a lot of of you communicate 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.”

Owen, who runs a pet shop in Barrowford, mentioned she simply posted the letter to display how “lovely” her children’s school is. “I’m a member of a mums’ group on Facebook called The Nest – it’s not extremely big, only 180 people or so. Anyway, I posted the photo and one or two of the ladies complained they couldn’t see it since my protection settings are very stringent and I wasn’t truly pals with them. So I made the picture public and it went mad.”

She posted the letter on Monday 14 July, the last week of the summer season term. By the time she woke up the next day, it had been copied to Twitter and was trending throughout the world.

“I turned up at college and heard that Radio four and five Dwell had been on the phone, there had been camera crews outside the college all day. I was thrilled but I was also contemplating: ‘Oh what have I carried out?’ I was hoping the college weren’t mad at me.”

She needn’t have anxious. Rachel Tomlinson, the head, was delighted that her school was in the spotlight, and quickly found herself sitting on the BBC Breakfast sofa whilst a colleague did Great Morning Britain on ITV. Charlie, meanwhile, was on the neighborhood information and taking it all in his stride.

“Usually when a school is in the media it’s simply because anything has gone incorrect, but we were obtaining overwhelmingly positive feedback,” mentioned Tomlinson, reflecting on the “crazy” week.

“It was extraordinary. We couldn’t feel it. We did not expect it at all. We just believed that 50 kids would go through it, along with their mums and dads and perhaps grandparents. But all of a sudden we had been acquiring messages of help from celebrities – I keep in mind [the former children’s laureate] Michael Rosen shared the photograph – and interview requests from close to the world.”

Fielding the media calls was a full-time job for one particular member of personnel all week. She experimented with to flip the task into an educational game, getting the children to put flags on a globe map exhibiting in which in the globe inquiries and Twitter messages had come from.

Strangers sent £10 notes by way of the submit asking Tomlinson to “buy some thing for the children”. Other people sent books for the college library. A single couple from Italy asked how they could enrol their sons at the college.

“I had to describe we had been a neighborhood state college for nearby young children,” stated Tomlinson. She spent the initial week of her summer season holiday solidly replying to thousands of emails from wellwishers and accepted a trip to the British Council in Beirut to speak about training.

As ever, with fame came the inevitable backlash, with some keyboard warriors accusing Tomlinson of plagiarism. They observed Barrowford’s letter bore a striking similarity to one particular posted on the website of an American academic, Kimberley Hurd. But Tomlinson had never claimed to have written the letter herself. She was sent a website link to Hurd’s weblog by her mentor, who imagined it would be “right up my street”.

She felt it chimed perfectly with Barrowford’s motto of “Learn to really like, really like to learn” and its aim of ensuring pupils are “rounded and grounded”, with the “ultimate goal” to “provide men and women with the potential to find out what we want to in whatever conditions we locate ourselves”.

The school aims to make certain young children take pleasure in learning, rather than putting them under stress to attain league table-topping outcomes. “We really don’t sizzling-house our kids for their Sats. We’re not obsessed with outcomes … we are reaching above the national average but carrying out it differently from most schools.”

Prior to the 12 months 6s sat their tests in May, the young children had been treated to bacon sandwiches and scorching chocolate ahead of the exams commenced. “We want our children to go on to be respectful, self-regulating, compassionate, self-conscious folks,” she mentioned.

Tomlinson later discovered that the text originated from one more American, Mary Ginley. They manufactured get in touch with by way of Facebook and Ginley wrote a public note of help.

“She was truly enthusiastic that her phrases had been resurrected but also a little disappointed that they have been even now required, because she had written them 15 many years ago,” said Tomlinson.

5 months on and Tomlinson still appears slightly bemused by the daily life the letter took on. “We are nonetheless overwhelmed. It is bizarre, really. All we really did was remind our yr 6s how wonderful they are. It is one thing we do day to day. We laugh about it sometimes. There are so several issues that we do for our youngsters however only this crappy bit of paper goes throughout the world.”

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