By Deborah Wroe

I read a cynical article* in The Guardian this morning, I know right? It’s about teachers’ letters around primary school Sats and how they often get posted on social media and go viral. I read one on Twitter at the weekend, and I adored it

If I had kids I’d want them at a school that sent out letters like this.

The letter is perfect is so many ways:-

  • It’s dressed up as homework
  • It speaks directly to the children
  • It’s fun
  • It contains a mix and match approach – i.e. do what makes you happy

As well as it being Sats week this week, it’s also mental health awareness week and the theme this year is stress. Alarmingly, according to a new survey by children’s charity Barnardo’s, almost half of children aged 12 feel sad or anxious at least once a week. And twelve to 16 year olds report that school is their main cause of stress (65 per cent). So, I don’t like the cynicism in the Guardian article, I think it’s really important to use the right language around Sats and consider the mental wellbeing of children and the stress that exam pressure can create.

It’s way too long ago for me to remember primary school exams, no Sats back then, but I do remember loving tests, I may have been a tad competitive. However I don’t recall exam prep, or extensive homework or any discussions around stress. I probably didn’t even have stress in my vocabulary in primary school. It’s worrying that it’s so prevalent now. Something as simple as a well-written letter that’s encouraging, inclusive and frames the Sats in a ‘it matters but it’s not the end of the world’ way is a joy to behold and deserves to be widely shared on social media and in real life. Words matter.

* Said cynical article https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/may/15/these-tests-only-measure-a-little-bit-of-you-the-teachers-letters-that-go-viral