Primary school cancels prizegiving because it discourages non-award winners

Silverdale Primary School has cancelled their end of year prizegiving, and have explained in a newsletter:

End of Year Prizegiving

There has been a lot of talk about the cancellation of the end of year prizegiving. Just to clarify some misconceptions about cancellation of the end of year prizegiving.

1. Sports teams will still be based on skill and a selection process.

2. There will still be placings at school events such as cross country, athletics, swimming, speech competitions. Some of these events have trophies and these will be handed out on the day or at the next assembly.

The end of year prizegiving was used to award children in each class:
– Most improved
– Commitment to Learning
– Classroom Citizen
– Excellence in Literacy and Mathematics

Out of a class of 20 to 30 children how does a teacher choose one child for each award? Don’t we want all our children to improve, have commitment to learning, show citizenship and to have excellence in literacy and mathematics

By rewarding a few we find that it discourages the others.

We are trying to get our children to succeed because they want to succeed and not because of a reward at the end which is subjective at best. The sporting awards are easy to give out, if you win the cross country race you get first, not subjective. Everyone can understand this.

Try explaining to a child that has tried hard all year with their learning that they didn’t get the Commitment to Learning award because someone else was trying harder, this is subjective. How do you judge who tries harder??

We will continue to hand out Principal Awards and Team awards throughout the year, these certificates are based on our values and recognise what children have done.

I hope this goes some way to answer your concern.

From Newsletter 35 (PDF)

Original source: Silverdale [Primary] School cancels end of year prizegiving because it discourages those that do not win awards

Keep in mind that this is at a primary school where they don’t have exams.

There seems to be a bit of contradiction in not giving out ‘subjective’ end of awards but continuing to give out Principal Awards during the year, which must also be subjective. From my experience with Principal Awards (given to grandchildren, they didn’t do them in my day and we called the boss a headmaster) they are rotating awards that include all pupils over time, and often are for very subjective and grand sounding attributes.

Player of the day awards to sports teams are also often rotated.

There are different ways to see this. I understand the need to encourage every child to learn, and never winning an award may well be discouraging. We didn’t get learning awards at primary school in my day and we seemed to survive without them.

But there can also be benefits for awarding those who strive, and who do very well.

Perhaps the Government could follow the lead of Silverdale Primary and cancel the Queen’s Birthday and New Year gong handouts. I have been very discouraged by not winning one (that’s sarcasm – while some community awards and recognition of services may have merit I oppose knighthood and damehood sort of awards).