Concern for high-achieving students after primary school cancels prize-giving

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Friday, 16 November 2018, 10:19AM
She said prizes are often given out for three categories, knowledge, skill and behaviour. Photo / Getty Images

An Auckland primary school has cancelled its school prize-giving to move away from ranking students against each other and boost self-motivation.

Silverdale Primary School, on Auckland's Hibiscus Coast, announced the decision to cancel its prize-giving in an October school newsletter.

Principal Cameron Lockie wrote that there were a number of reasons the school had decided that it will no longer have an end-of-year prize-giving, saying there was a counterproductive nature in rewarding children and the ranking and sorting of students as better than others.

Associate Head of Education at Massey University, Jenny Poskitt told Mike Hosking prize-givings are important for a number of reason.

"They serve to acknowledge students and staff, to thank people during the year, to celebrate achievements and to farewell people."

"In the past, prizes were often given for three things - knowledge, so the highest in geography, skills like woodwork or athleticism, and behaviour," she said.

"Traditionally they are awarded on comparison with other students, often they are awarded against criteria and standards, or growth is another one, where you're comparing where a student was at time A to time B."

She said when handled correctly, prizes can be a great way to motivate and reward students.

"Awarding prizes can inspire students to achieve at higher levels if it's deemed to be achievable, if it's too high then it can be demotivating."

"When people are clear about what the criteria are and clear about seeing the shift, the change, the excellence then I don't think people have a problem with them." 

She said issues often come up when "arbitrary" awards are given out but it's important for students to realise every one has different talents.



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