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School dares to tell kids they’re so much more than a number on a test

A Northern Ireland primary school is receiving lots of attention over what went home with students’ post-primary entrance exams, but it doesn’t have anything to do with their scores.

Harmony Hill Primary School in Lisburn tucked a little extra love into the envelopes carrying their pupils’ entrance exam scores. Enclosed with students’ test results was a heartfelt letter from the school staff, encouraging students to not feel disheartened if they did not receive the scores they had hoped for.

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“It might not be the score you’ve been hoping for,” the letter reads. “If that’s the case… we will feel disappointed ‘for you’ too — but we won’t feel disappointed ‘in you.’”

The letter had garnered significant social media attention since one of the students uploaded the picture to Facebook. Principal Harry Greer has been “surprised” by the overwhelming number of people who have shared the inspiring letter. He feels certain that the same sentiment will be shared across all primary schools in Northern Ireland as these test scores go home.

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The letter was the brainchild of vice principal Hillary Johnston, who proposed the idea and worked with staff to finalize the wording of the letter. The goal was simple: to let students know that the staff was proud of them, regardless of the outcome on their test scores.

“We just wanted them to know that we were thinking of them today. It can be a time of great excitement, but for some children, it can be a time of great disappointment,” Greer said.

Although it was a simple letter, the sentiment is an important one. While students feel tremendous pressure to perform well on tests, it is important that they are reminded that their worth is not attached to a standardized test score. These scores reveal nothing about character or the type of value their existence brings to society.

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Especially in adolescence, it is often hard to maintain perspective when you are immersed in prepping and studying and worrying over test scores. It’s easy to become obsessed with measurable success, but it is more important to remember to “grow up to be kind, caring, generous, loving adults, who make a positive difference to this world by how you live your life.”

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