Victorian primary school bans rewards such as certificates, medals and ribbons as well as in-house competitions.

St James’ Parish School near Ballarat, 100km west of Melbourne, has moved to eliminate extrinsic rewards after seeing significant improvements in the children’s mentality.

Co-principal Peter Fahey told Yahoo7 News the school began to roll out the initiative 15 years ago but it had taken a lot of work from all involved to get to the level they’re at now.

“It’s been a long adventure – we started this process 15 years ago,” he said.

“At that point we saw a lot of our children quite anxious and stressed and we realised there was a craving for them to be social beings again.

“The focus is now on learning as opposed to extrinsic motivations such as rewards.”

Mr Fahey said the transformation has been “massive” not only on the sporting field but in the classroom.

Mr Fahey explained the school would record each pupil’s competency level and statistics at the start of the year and would then shift the focus on learning via feedback to better the children.

“Throughout the rest of the term we practised. Children received feedback on developed skills and then participated in school sports,” he said.

The process has been gradual over the years, according to Mr Fahey, with certificates and prizes known as extrinsic rewards eventually taken away.

“We moved over time to eliminate certificates, we then eliminated weekly ceremonies. We substituted that with educating staff who pursued feedback on learning throughout curriculum,” he said.

“The difference is now our children are competing for the love of the sport. They’re not after this external reward. They get their dopamine and serotonin fix from the actual improvement and engagement in other people.”

I am in two minds over this. I know children don’t need rewarding for everything they do. You certainly don’t get that in the real world. But sometimes a little bit of recognition can go a long way towards encouraging a child to strive to succeed or improve.

Do you agree with this idea?

Share your comments below


  • And here we have one reason why our kids are becoming less resilient. If you don’t have failures, you don’t learn how to cope with it. And life comes with failures long afternoon school has finished

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  • If it works great. Most likely different things work for different kids as we all have different motivation so there is no one size fits all.

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  • The amount of awards given out in some schools – even just classrooms on a weekly basis is out of hand. Some schools with weekly awards basically give out junk. At the end of each school year the class had, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and most improved. At the end of primary school we got one certificate each stating that we had completed Primary School. We also got certificates at the end of years 11 & 12.

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  • Definitely debatable on this one. I get the positivity from it but some kids might feel like they’re never getting where they need to be without the recognition

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  • Many studies show that kids need extrinsic motivation until they are around 10 years old.

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  • I think kids try harder if their efforts are rewarded. It gives them something to try harder to get.

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  • I think you can go overboard with rewards, but a few are positive.

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  • I think children who do well should be recognised and praised.

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  • I kind of like the system in primary school. Kids are happy with these small rewards and the ceremonies.

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  • I was shocked reading the article title but hearing their reasons I think it’s a positive step and should be looked into further

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  • I think this is a great idea. Often children can be left out or forgotten when it comes to rewards, and that is more damaging than no rewards at all.

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  • I’m from the Netherlands and not used to this reward system at all, even wearing a school uniform was strange to me. When we moved to Australia 10 years ago and our kids started to attend school here, this whole reward and certificate system you see at schools here, was crazy and over the top to me. I’ve got used to it now (it’s what they do), but would be happy if they ditched it.

    Reply

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