Principal Tomlinson's Heartwarming Letter To Her Students Will Make Your Day

The head teacher at Barrowford Primary School in the United Kingdom hoped to make her students feel better, and wound up inspiring pretty much everyone. Principal Rachel Tomlinson wrote a letter to her Barrowford students, included with the students' Key Stage 2 test results — equivalent to grades three through six in the U.S. — reminding them that they were "special and unique," regardless of test scores.

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.Reminders like these often fall outside the responsibility of the education system. A teacher is typically required to teach certain subjects, but life lessons are extracurricular, so for Tomlinson to take on this role is truly inspiring. Teaching a child that they have value as a person inside and outside of school is just as crucial for development as science and arithmetic.

Unsurprisingly, as soon as the letter was posted online, the uplifting message spread like wildfire.

But, as usual, there were a few Debbie Downers who tried to burst everyone's bubbles. According to the Daily Mail, Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, former headmaster, and all-around curmudgeon, said of the letter: "They're undermining confidence that the children may have in the education system.... The message they're sending is that the examination results are in some way invalidated because there are other matters at stake. It's an indirect attack on the Government."

Right.

Others have pointed out that sections of the letter were lifted from a research paper by American teacher Kimberley A. Hurd, who included excerpts of it on her blog last October:

Tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each student special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each student the way I do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way the families do. They do not know that some of my students speak two languages. They do not know that they can play a musical instrument or that they can dance or paint a picture. Doesn't that matter more?

So, Tomlinson had read the research paper or blog post — so what? She was inspired, and wanted to convey the same message to her students. She never intended to publish the letter or have it reach beyond her classroom, so to call her out for plagiarism is irrelevant. What matters here — what we should all focus on — is the message of the letter: that everybody's special, no matter what a test score says.