Following national protests that took place last week against “excessive” primary school testing, one West Berkshire teacher found a novel way to take the pressure off her pupils.
And little did she know that the ‘homework’ she set her Year 6 pupils would be reported by national media across the world and shared tens of thousands of times on social media.
Jenny Thom, who is a staff governor and class teacher at Bucklebury Primary School, set her students homework in preparation for national SAT examinations being sat by Year 2 and 6 pupils this week.
The homework asked pupils to complete a range of activities ahead of the tests – none of which involved studying – but did include smiling, seeing friends and “laughing until your tummy hurts”.
She also asked pupils to “eat Haribo or ice cream”, “run until you just can’t take anymore”, “spend time with people you love” and, of course, “have more Haribo and ice cream”.
The note ends: “If you feel you have to, you may revise, but you can only do this for a maximum of one hour.
“Remember, Mrs Thom is in charge of worrying – you don’t need to. You are all amazing and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Have a fabulous weekend.”
A photograph of her note (pictured left) was then shared on Facebook by education blog EYFS Matters before getting picked up by national news media around the world and shared more than 60,000 times.
Responding to the global reaction, headteacher Andy Higgs said: “The prep set for our Year 6 pupils on Friday, May 6, has proven to be very popular with many people.
“It recognises the enormous amount of hard work and dedication invested by children passionate about learning.
“It also reflects our beliefs about education and the recognition that outcomes from tests and eleven year olds do not dictate who you are or who you might become.
“We believe in growing the whole child, in every child.
“To that end we endeavour to nurture fully rounded children balanced in mind, body and spirit.
“We absolutely recognise the value of assessment. It is at the centre of excellent practice in schools.
“What children value is understanding where they are, what the goal is and guidance on how to close the gap.
“Whether it is teacher feedback, peer dialogue or a summative test, assessment is best for the child when it seeks to identify gaps in learning upon which future teaching can be based.”