A question about certificates, all may answer but would like a teacher's view too please

(107 Posts)
PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 16:11:51

Do you think they are a good or a bad thing?

I am getting more and more pissed off about certificates, in our case presented for good work once a week in assembly. Sure they are a good way of recognising good work publically, but when it's your child getting increasingly despondent that they haven't yet had one this term, when other classmates may have 2 or even 3, they don't work do they? But if you give one to half the class every week then they become devalued. Or do they? If you're in Yr1 any bit of praise and acknowledgement is brilliant, and motivating. Poor ds has to sit and clap everyone else, sometimes more than once, this term but has had nothing himself. He's a nice child, bright, works hard, not above a bit of silliness I know. But if he wasn't getting a certificate because of poor behaviour if expect to be told about that direct, not have to fathom it out from a lack of public praise.

If you were a teacher and a parent raised this with you nicely, would you think they were annoying and pushy, that the child just had to wait his turn, no matter how long it took, or that you had a fair point?

prettydaisies Fri 30-Nov-12 16:56:19

Are you sure some children have had them more than once? I give 2 a week to my class, but haven't got through the whole class yet. I do make sure everyone has one by finding something good about all children (and tick it off on a class list, so I know!).

choccyp1g Fri 30-Nov-12 17:05:41

Good for you Prettydaisies, I thought that was how it worked in DS class, when he invariably got one in the last dish-out of the year, for "good work in maths" (he was pretty much the best at maths all the way through).
I am a governor now at his old school and was amazed last week when discussing reward systems, his old teacher said "no they don't keep a tick list" to make sure that all children get some work up on the wall at least once a year, or that they all get "one of 5 stars of the week" at least once a term.

choccyp1g Fri 30-Nov-12 17:06:58

Haven't explained why I was shocked. Surely teachers can understand how it feels to be hoping and hoping to be called every week and then seeing the same old faces trooping up.

At DD1's school they give out 2 certificates a week per class. I presume they give to every child once (certainly seems that way). They also do stars and iirc last year they had all got the bronze one by the time they were awarded with a few of them getting silver.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 17:13:32

Genuine question ...Do you think a child should be awarded a certificate simply because it's "their turn" ?

Frontpaw Fri 30-Nov-12 17:16:01

Ah yes, the sodding awards and house point system. Pain in the effing ass. Some kids get them for not hitting/bullying/spitting...

Some teachers are point happy and give them out like confetti (which is crapy if they teach certain classes so other kids don't get anywhere near as many points). One child in DSs this week had 25 points - the others has between none and 7. This child has a class with a particular teacher every week and this is where she gets all the points (with the little smiley face drawn on, so it's obvious where they come from). Its not an extra class (foreign school system) so its ot as if she needs extra encouragement. Even the kids are hacked off with the system now! DS gets points for helping clear up the classroom, which ally pisses me off. He works hard and produces some work that is pretty good, but never gets points for that!

NotInMyDay Fri 30-Nov-12 17:20:13

My DD is in P1 and I already hate them. She is quiet and well behaved and she works well but has she had a certificate? Nope! She has to watch the class hooligan get one for being less of a hooligan this week sad

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 17:23:44

A teacher ususally uses a tick chart to keep a record of who has had a certificate and who has not. I would consider this good practice.

You can always find something to praise about a child, if you cannot do so you probably shouldn't be a teacher.

Not everyone in a class of thirty would have got one by this point in the term, even if they give out two a week.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 30-Nov-12 17:40:58

DD was always sad in infants as she never got any kind of recognition and she commented 'How come it's always the naughty ones who have star charts Mummy?' By the end of infants she was despondent and was just doing the bare minimum because she couldn't see the point in doing any more.
So actually now she is in Juniors and the harder you work the faster you get house points and your certificates - if you misbehave yous loose house points and don't get certificates- I am delighted.
I feel that the harder you work in life the greater the rewards and now she is in a system that reflects that I am really happy.

mummytime Fri 30-Nov-12 17:49:05

I think every child should get one, but you can encourage the child to work for it. I believe over a school year every child must have at least 1 good week, or produce 1 good (for them) piece of work.
A friend of mine is a paediatric nurse, and she uses star charts to teach parents to spot (and reward) when a child is being good; so the parent has the task of spotting the child being good 5 times a day for example. If the child doesn't get 5 stars it is the parent who has 'failed' not the child.
Similarly if a teacher doesn't think each child has produced good work/been well behaved at least once a year/term. Then that teacher is failing (at least in primary).

Frontpaw Fri 30-Nov-12 17:51:18

We have small classes and its the same kids. So the message is, if you work hard, behave and are polite (and your mum isn't class parent, or on the PTA) you can forget it. And if you do, it's not because you did good work or won a competition, no, it's because you have been 'mature' wtaf???

Even when DS says 'its to encourage them to be good' or 'it's because they need extra practise in English' (which they don't because they are bilingual) even he doesn't sound convinced these days. He didn't even buy 'its because he worked hard on his lines' for the child who got extra house points for being in the class play (the play that he wasn't actually in as she was off that day).

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 18:10:52

Interesting replies thanks. In response to Mrsz,no I don't think you should get them because its your turn, but nor do I think that a child who tries hard should see his friends, one of whom messes about and is silly in class, and one who is bright and clever get them, or in one case three, while he keeps on doing his best and getting nil recognition. If he's just unfortunate enough to be at the end of the queue well then he will learn delayed gratification, but that doesn't seem to be the system. I would rather 5 children a week got them if they warranted the praise, on whatever level - so amazing work or better behaviour according to their own abilities.

Same thing happened last year. It is really depressing when you view it through the eyes of a 5yo and his PFB mother

Durab Fri 30-Nov-12 18:15:27

DS2 got his 2nd this term today and as they give out one per class per week, he's obviously had more than his share. Other years I'm not sure he's had one at all.

IMO that's how it should be. He has worked hard this term and there have been dramatic improvements in the areas he's been rewarded for. Other years he's, frankly, been lazy. It wouldn't have been right to give him a certificate just because it's his turn, or he hasn't had one yet- that does devalue them.

That said, of course different children should get rewarded for different things. DS1 got a sticker 6 weeks into reception for answering his name for the register (painfully shy then) It would have been silly to reward a child who found that easy, but they might have had one for doing up their coat. If a child finds it hard to be "mature" and has made a special effort to behave, then that is worthy of reward IMO. A "good" child who's coasting not so much.

ElfOnTheShelf Fri 30-Nov-12 18:18:58

Try being in Yr 4 (aged 8) and not EVER receiving one. My DD has had to watch her best friend get one every year (she is the youngest in the class and struggles) whereas DD is very average and quiet but never gets recognised. Again there is no list and so the same children get picked. I feel so sad for her when she asks "When will it be my turn?".

cilldara Fri 30-Nov-12 18:25:43

I am a teacher, albeit in Ireland, and I never give certs or rewards!

I believe strongly in self motivation and the power of immediate praise for a good piece of work or good behaviour.

Wellthen Fri 30-Nov-12 18:52:57

I find this attitude 'it is so sad for an 8 year old' rather odd. Yes, it is sad when you're 8. In the same way that fact your brother is ALWAYS going to be 2 years older and therefore get a later bedtime and more fun toys is very annoying, pets dying is distressing etc.

These are experiences that we have as children that, as adults, we recognise are not actually so important. As an adult surely our role is to help children through these feelings by explaining how the system works.

eg. We are part way through a 15 (I think) week term. So, in many classes, at least 10 children wont get a certificate if there is one certificate a week. So actually, it probably isnt the same children coming up. Its just your child is sad because they are in the final 3rd of the class to get theirs. Somebody has to be last. It isnt because they dont mattter or the teacher hasn't noticed them. Its simple maths.

You are not helping your children by being bitter and petty you are simply compounding their feelings of saddness by making out the system is 'corrupt'

2 final things:
Ask your child to actually think about how often they are praised. For lining up, for their work, for sitting nicely, for being nice or polite. It IS noticed. But teachers praise so often it fades into background noise!

Every week I struggle to think of someone for the award because I have so many things to chose from. Good peices of work, good behaviour, being friendly. Then I have the group of children who have already had an award (and so therefore dont deserve one?). Remind your child that they probably deserved an award but somebody had to be chosen.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 19:30:27

"A teacher ususally uses a tick chart to keep a record of who has had a certificate and who has not."

I would consider this a pretty pointless practice ... I'm very mean when it comes to certificates ...they have to be earned for effort or they are valueless.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 19:41:09

Well I make sure they earn it AND everyone gets a go at it. I need to remember myself who has had one. It is not pointless.

ninah Fri 30-Nov-12 19:43:27

I agree with humphrey

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 19:45:15

I inherited a class last year who had a teacher with a tick list and they kept asking me when it was their turn for a certificate ...

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 19:46:04

Most of the teachers I know keep a record. The teacher you mention must have handled it badly.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 19:47:16

no one has ever asked me when is it going to be their turn.

Takver Fri 30-Nov-12 19:49:25

Its tricky, isn't it. I'm the parent of the child who comes home with 'golden certificate' because she wrote half a page, and probably all the other children on her table wrote 2 pages and are wondering why they didn't . . . But equally, if something is really hard for you, surely its great that it is recognised.

Having said that, this week dd came home with the certificate because she was the only one who knew all her lines for the school play - which is dead easy for her as she has an amazing memory - and I suspect she got it 'cos the teacher was pissed off with all the kids who didn't!

On the whole I think it is a good system, but then I have a dd who generally comes last at everything in sports, is socially not great so never gets picked for school council, and finds writing painfully hard so rarely produces work that goes up on the wall. So something like getting the certificate for 'being a good friend to the younger children' is really important to her. (And yes, I do think most probably that they keep a list and make sure everyone gets it at least once a term!)

ninah Fri 30-Nov-12 19:51:13

nor me humphrey
I like cilldara's approach, personally, but the certificates are a whole school thing so no choice

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 19:55:05

Yes, I have never had any choice about the certificates. Every Friday at Achievement Assembly.

I should say that my list is not something the children know exists. Sometimes children do get more than one, if I feel something special has been achieved.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 19:55:39

We have whole school certificate assemblies for writing and maths every week ...so far this term no one in my class has received a certificate why don't you try opting out ninah

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:02:10

Then I can see why you don't bother keeping a list mrz. It would make sense as you have the bar raised so high. Are you the only teacher that does this in your school?

I had a place in my classroom to display exceptional work. I probably only added to it two or three times a term.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:06:12

Our achievement assemblies are based on effort and all children will go into the "achievement book" for something each academic year.

Merit systems are widely debated, Shirley Clarke I think it is advocates doing away with stickers, certificates etc and focussing more on a classroom climate of positive formative assessment in action as being a realmotivater for children. I'm inclined to agree though one of the strategies I have used with success is "secret pupil" which all children have loved and felt included in.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 20:11:11

No I'm not the only teacher in my school
In my classroom I display every child's work

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:12:59

We make a distinction between 'general' Gold Certificates, and 'special' certificates for writing. 0, 1 or 2 children from the whole school get writing certificates each week. There is no expectation that every child will get one in turn, as it has to be 'exceptional writing for that child' and that doesn't appear to order! The 'absolute' standard required to get the certificate obviously varies - I have given one this year, to a statemented child with very significant learning needs who produced a piece of writing that showed absolutely astonishing progress even though it was poor relative to many others in the class IYSWIM.

There are also 'general' certificates each week (can be for anything linked to work or to the school's 'values') and at least 1 is expected from every class. There is an expectation that every teacher will find something praiseworthy about each child in their class - though interestingly the time frame varies, stretching from 'every child should have 1 in their first half term' in reception to 'every child should have at least one in each academic year' at the top of the school [we only go up to Year 4].

In practice, I tend to find that some children get more than 1 - sometimes bunched when a child goes through one of those 'non linear spurts' which all assessment / progress expectations don't believe exist - while others do just get the 1. Equally, I find that where a child might only get 1 in my class, they might get more than 1 in the next - again just an indication that progress is not linear.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 20:20:32

What is secret pupil pinkpeonies?

I feel there are many different, valid approaches. No certs at all. Certs very rarely and only for truly outstanding effort. Certs for all but always for something and not done on a rota. Certs or stickers or acknowledgement for anything and everything. The worst has to be ticking off on a list. Ds waited and waited last year because he is near the end of the class register. Don't think this years teacher does it.

BUT surely the overriding principle is that everyone has to know how the system works. Ds has no idea what more he can do to earn a certificate, he's in (I think) the second most able group for most things and has made tons of progress in reading and writing. He behaves well, has had the odd telling off but really improved on this. Tries hard, very polite. Brighter children get them, sillier children get them, less able children get them. He doesn't. Perhaps he should ask his teacher?

ElfOnTheShelf Fri 30-Nov-12 20:23:18

Wellthen if that was directed at my post (I think I have been the only one so far to mention an aged 8 child) then I think that it's a bit harsh. DD has NEVER EVER got a certificate and so I don't think she is being unreasonable to ask as it's been almost 5 years since she started school. 5 years is an age to wait and still not get picked. She is in a small school too. She claps and is delighted for her friends and never makes them think she's jealous, it's just at home she has asked me and actually only this year to be fair as she's not a whingy child.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:26:43

yes, I displayed every child's work too. I just had special board on which I put exceptional work. I mentioned it because it seemed to be similar to your certificate of achievements at your school mrz, as it was not something I gave out weekly. Unlike the achievement certificates at the Friday assembly.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:33:05

During some sessions, usually literacy I will tell the children I have selected a "secret pupil". I let my TA know who he/she is too and that child's name is written on a small "secret pupil" certificate. At the end of the session I tell the class who it was and give them feedback on what they did that really impressed me and that they should be proud of. It might be something they have previously struggled with that they have mastered, an idea they contributed or perhaps they have written a beautifully crafted sentence. The beauty of it is that each child gets a different comment on their certificate, they take them home to show parents and you can see their confidence and self esteem grow visibly. Its a system they all understand.

I personally don't use stickers, I prefer to give immediate feedback which is meaningful and encourage a growth type mindset in my classroom. They need to love learning for learning's sake and understand how to be successful as learners, once you have established this and it is embedded children don't seek out stickers or hovver around for one, its quiye a revealation (ex sticker giver!)

I too ensure that all children's work is displayed and appraised and encourage the children to be critical friends to each other as well as just relying on my feedback.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:34:38

Piggery, just to clarify - I do keep a record of who has had certificates - but I certainly don't 'go down the list alphabetically'. I give it to the children who have deserved it each week, BUT the list is there so that at the end of the year I can check that no child has ben totally overlooked.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 20:46:57

I like your way of doing things pinkpeonies, instant feedback and directed, descriptive praise is sort of approach I think ds would like.

elf have you ever asked the school / teachers why your dd has never had a certificate?

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:48:36

giving certificates does not preclude instant feedback and descriptive praise - I would imagine most teachers do this.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 20:49:51

Sorry I'm sure I'm missing something but how is the secret pupil certificate different from "stickers" pinkpeonies?

I really am mean as I don't give stickers either

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:53:28

I'd agree Humphrey and as a school we do still do certificates in achievement assembly but removing stickers and sticker charts have altered our learning/classroom climate in a good way.

Indeed, all CTs should be making formative assessment an integral part of their teaching, yet it is something Ofsted pick up regularly as not happening enough, or in a way that is not truly meaningful.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:58:33

Never done stickers in class, or sticker charts. It's instant, verbal feedback all day every day, but with the additional institutional ritual of celebration assembly certificates.

I'd go for just the former, tbh, but I do think that recognisiotion within the whole school comminuty is a good thing too.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:59:47

I find it gives the chance for real, precision feedback. I find that children are very excited by it, particularly the big reveal! I find it has some impact on general classroom behaviour on occasions (particularly in upper KS2).

I guess the premise is not different to that of giving stickers but for some reason it works better and enables me to raise teaching points and successful learning strategies in a fun pacey way

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 21:00:24

I think that makes sense pinkpeonies. I would be happy in a school that did not do stickers.

My DS's school has a behavior board, if you are naughty you have to write your name on the red card. But that is a whole other thread grin

Meglet Fri 30-Nov-12 21:05:19

DS was the only child to not get a class certificate or the 'treat box' in Year R, small school. Some of his friends managed to get 2 class certificates.

He's still managed to get nothing and in year 1 now. His work is all above average, maths is well above average, never had a day off sick, never late to school, hands homework in early, he's very confident and not at all shy, no major behavioural problems....yet he still goes under the radar confused.

I don't want to be the crazy parent talking to his teacher about it (I will soon though) but I am intrigued as to what all the other children are doing so well and he is not doing <<sigh>>.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 21:08:45

see, this is why I keep a list. If you are going to do this every week, you have to make sure some children don't get left out.

I would mention it Meglet.

Houseworkprocrastinator Fri 30-Nov-12 21:19:24

In my experience the stickers are a waste of time, our school has a playgroup where they start at 2 and then the nursery and infants all part of the same school so my children started getting stickers for things like getting out of nappies, putting their coat/shoes on and sitting at the snack table all the way up to reading writing and maths.
they were excited at age 2 and proud of their stickers (very upset if they fell off and lost them) but they started to loose their value around half way through nursery and really mean nothing to my daughter in year 1. They are given way too freely.

i find what motivates mine is pride in their own achievement and meeting their targets. Also making me proud. I would say good teacher/parent communication can help allot. By letting parents know that children have done something well (without announcing this to the rest of the class or giving certificates) can help because then the child can get praise at home as well.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 30-Nov-12 21:25:52

Dd is in year 6. She had had 1 merit certificate in her school career (in reception class)

Ds is in Year 4. He has had two and works nowhere near as hard as dd

Many if the disruptive children have had multiple certificates

Dd has given up and at parents evening this year the level if effort she has put in has dropped considerably. She says she knows she us never going to he one if the favourites.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:29:13

Every class in our school has to give out a certificate each week as part of celebration assembly.

I would struggle to not find something positive to celebrate about children in my class. In each week there is at least one, but more often several, who would deserve being praised in this way. Finding a child to give a certificate to isn't hard for us at school, choosing just one can be. But yes - every class I have ever worked in has ensured every child always has a certificate at least once - though any record of this is completely hidden from children.

Every child is good at doing something, even if you have to look a bit harder for some.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:31:13

Oh - we give instant praise and feedback pretty much all day every day anyway. That is just a normal part of teaching anyway surely?

We do give out stickers too. Children like them in my experience. So can see no reason not to.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 21:34:36

I find what motivates mine is pride in their own achievement and meeting their targets. Also making me proud.

I find that's a huge incentive for our pupils too but I really don't get the "every child must have a certificate" concept ...

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:35:16

We don't have sticker charts though - just stickers that go on the child's top - or wherever they chose to put it.

Houseworkprocrastinator Fri 30-Nov-12 21:36:22

Hulababy - i guess it depends on how often you give them. i have found that mine have had them nearly every day especially when they were littler so don't really mean much.
if you only gave them out for truly impressive achievements then yes they would mean more... but then you would get parents wondering why their child hasn't had a sticker yet, guess you cant win.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 21:40:21

I don't think you can run a system where 90% get a certificate and a small number are overlooked. Ether everyone gets one, at least once, during a term / year or no-one gets them, or they are rarer than hens' teeth for truly incredibly work, improvement, acts of selflessness and daring bravery etc. if most children get them, the ones that don't feel sad, demotivated and wonder why they other if their efforts are never celebrated whilst every other bugger's are.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 21:40:47

bother not other.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:45:05

I give them out for effort rather than attainment.
No, not every day - a few a week.

I think the attainment certificates are different though - they are a chance to celebrate individual children's achievements. Each one can mean something different. And imo all children have something to celebrate - so see no reason not to allow every child their 30 seconds a year of celebration in assembly.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 21:57:10

We celebrate children every single day just not with certificates

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:59:33

Well we do that too. I see that as part of the job.
But the certificates are a school thing and not optional here. So if that is the case - then yes, we make sure every child is celebrated over the year.

alcofrolic Fri 30-Nov-12 22:08:06

I agree mrz

I also think only children who deserve certificates should get them. The idea that 'everyone should get one' decreases their value.

Some children at our school may receive certificates in assembly 2 or 3 times a year, as the purpose of the certificates is to reward good role models. We don't want to publicly reward children who don't deserve them, as that would send a very mixed message.

However, the children not receiving certificates in assembly will receive plenty of individual praise and encouragement in the classroom/year group/visits to HT to show work, etc.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 22:27:43

I can see the argument for not giving them at all. I can see the argument for giving out a few a term, if if this is how it works.

I cannot see that it is acceptable to give out 29 in a year and leave one child out.

It is not hard to find something to celebrate about every child.

juniper904 Fri 30-Nov-12 22:48:23

I find it really irritating when parents complain about the one little sod child in a class who has a specially designed behaviour system ie a sticker chart. Parents are on teachers' backs instantly if they decide discipline within the classroom is not top notch, and yet when a teacher has a method of controlling / modifying difficult behaviour, then suddenly it 'isn't fair' because the kids aren't all treated the same. Well duh. Why should all the kids be treated the same? If I have children who are struggling with reading, they have daily input from me/ my TA. Each child does not need the same level of support. For some it might be in academic situations; for others it will be behaviour.

It seems that, with star of the week etc, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. I had a parent complain to the head last year because pfb was only chosen once. In 39 weeks, that's not THAT unusual. One child was chosen 3 times, but because the supply covering my post-surgery sickness leave chose her. Not my choice. And I do have a tick list- more for my own sake than anything else.

alcofrolic Fri 30-Nov-12 22:53:49

If certificates are given for (e.g.) 'keeping the school rules', then children who behave appropriately, week after week after week, should be justly rewarded and used as role models for the other children.

These are the 'forgotten children' - often mentioned on mn forums as children who are overlooked in favour of the attention seekers. Surely these children deserve recognition for keeping rules and towing the line?

If children see a badly behaved class-mate receive the same award, surely that would would make it less aspirational and make the role model idea meaningless?

juniper904 Fri 30-Nov-12 22:54:58

If the badly behaved child never receives a carrot, and only ever has the stick, badly behaved child will continue to be badly behaved child.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 23:00:11

alcofrolic - in my school the certificate is given for different reasons every week.

And yes, I agree - the "forgotten" child are often the children who really deserve the certificate and who in the past were always ignored and well, forgotten. I was one such child. Quiet, worked well, never in trouble, a bit shy, not top of the class, but not needing support either = all that meant was that I was never really noticed at all. As a result I always look out for these children in class. (It;s also why sometimes the tick sheet comes in handy)

ninah Fri 30-Nov-12 23:02:23

coming back to this -mrz I don't opt out because I'm an NQT on a temp contract, and I'm choosing my battles! (believe me there are many)

sashh Sat 01-Dec-12 10:28:31

I think they should be worked for. So you are giving a child an individual target and whan they reach it they can get a sticker or certificate or whatever.

I'm in FE, one college we had a system of sending post cards home, one a week bot over bout 50 students. Staff recomended students to recieve them.

At the end of term we had a 'prize giving', college certificates for high marks (Edexcel can take weeks to produce the official one) but also some fun ones such as 'the orange award' - for the most consistant tan over 2 years.

Elibean Sat 01-Dec-12 10:48:36

They seem to work ok in the dds' school...everyone gets them eventually, but there are only one or two per week. For all sorts of different things, not just good work.

For work specifically, what works brilliantly is a system of individual learning targets - from Y1 upwards. Each child knows exactly what he or she is working towards in reading, writing and maths: ask any of them, they can tell you. They are very motivated in reaching them, because when they do they get to go to one of the SLT for a small certificate and a secret ceremony grin

The real benefit is that they all know what they need to learn, and sort of take responsibility for that iyswim.

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 10:52:48

I agree with cilldara I find the whole certificates and stars and house points thing ridiculous. Most teachers have them imposed on them though, so not much they can do, but the least they could do is make sure everyone gets one at least once, and not reward the children who misbehave by giving them certificates when they act as they should all the time.

I'm much more of a fan of private praise.

Gentleness Sat 01-Dec-12 11:13:12

The point of a checklist is not to give every child a certificate no matter what. It is to make sure the quiet children don't get overlooked. And make sure your reasons are consistent and also appear so. I'd mention that you are concerned about your child's confidence, not specifically about the certificates, just generally.

alcofrolic Sat 01-Dec-12 12:56:02

gentle 'The point of a checklist is not to give every child a certificate no matter what. It is to make sure the quiet children don't get overlooked.'

I agree. smile

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 14:33:30

I would be very worried that a school/teacher needed a check list to make sure quite children aren't overlooked ...sorry

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 14:34:17


FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 14:40:51

mrz really? If you are in a chaotic classroom (there are 9 children with SEN in the class I work in, and at least 3 more who probably should be on the register) it is very easy to overlook quiet children. While I am not a teacher, I can see how it would easily happen that all the focus is just on trying to keep some semblance of order on a day to day basis.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 14:46:51

Yes really FromEsme and I am a teacher (and I wish I only had 9 SEN )

helpyourself Sat 01-Dec-12 14:48:11

Sorry-I don't know what the philosophy behind 'all shall have prizes' I
I should as I was a teacher blush
I do remember being at primary school in the 70s and it being an utterly anti-awards environment. No reports even. It was a very stress free and happy place.

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 14:52:43

Oh sorry mrz you are obviously well superior with your superfluity of "SEN" ("children with SEN" surely being the more polite way of putting it).

Every teacher has their challenges. At least people are trying - if a checklist helps them to make sure every child has a shot, so be it.

juniper904 Sat 01-Dec-12 14:58:46

Come May or so, there are some children who I assume I must have already given the star to, because there's no reason why I wouldn't have done. I then check my list and think 'blimey! Little Tarquin has never had one!' so my check list does work. Maybe I should choose Tarquin every week, but little Brutas didn't kick anyone in the head for a whole day, so he deserves the recognition for his efforts too.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 15:06:41

Perhaps FromEsme with your in depth knowledge you can explain how a certificate check list ensure the quiet child isn't overlooked on a daily basis or is it OK to ignore them for most of the week/term/year as long as you notice they haven't had a certificate yet?

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 15:12:29

Gosh mrz a little aggressive there. Obviously I know that that is a problem - I don't think I said anywhere it was. But just because a checklist is in place to make sure everyone has a certificate doesn't mean the children ARE being over-looked either, does it? Maybe the certificates are just one in a long list of things a teacher has to do and they are in the back of their mind so they don't have any huge importance attached to them.

I know what it's like being a quiet, over-looked child and it is something that I work very hard to reverse with the children I work with.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 15:17:10

No it isn't a problem FromEsme it's quite simple to make sure you talk to each pupil about what they are doing and give praise on a daily basis

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 15:19:08

Yes, it is, in theory. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen in practice.

lilackaty Sat 01-Dec-12 15:23:13

We give a merit badge each week and I keep a record of it because even though I speak to every child everyday and praise them daily, I can never remember who I have given a merit to.
Also, both of my children went through at least 2 years of school without ever receiving a cerificate while all others received multiple ones. And it did bother them lots.
OP - I would go in & speak to the teacher if he has gone through a full school year without one but other than that, just wait. I know it is difficult though.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 15:24:18

Perhaps some teachers are so busy with their check lists they don't have time

HotheadPaisan Sat 01-Dec-12 15:25:26

'Some children at our school may receive certificates in assembly 2 or 3 times a year, as the purpose of the certificates is to reward good role models. We don't want to publicly reward children who don't deserve them, as that would send a very mixed message.'

Then you would never recognise the efforts of DS1 who has ASD. He is the worst role model on the planet but still achieves things.

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 15:29:19

Perhaps mrz and perhaps not. How can we possibly know.

HotheadPaisan Sat 01-Dec-12 15:33:29

'Sorry-I don't know what the philosophy behind 'all shall have prizes' I
I should as I was a teacher blush
I do remember being at primary school in the 70s and it being an utterly anti-awards environment. No reports even. It was a very stress free and happy place.'

Hear, hear, just stopped DS1's home/school book because it was too depressing.

OwedToAutumn Sat 01-Dec-12 15:37:40

At the junior school my DDs' attended, good work (for that particular child) is given a stamp, and a certain number of stamps equals a merit. They have to go to the HT's office to be awarded the merit, which then goes on a wall chart of all girls. After a certain number of merits have been achieved, they are given a certificate which is awarded at assembly.

There are also house points which are given for kindness, courtesy and so on.

So, children get awards for working hard within their own level, rather than being the best in the class at something.

A similar system runs at DS's junior school.

Now the girls are at two different senior schools, similar systems run at their respective schools.

I agree with mrz that awards should not be given because it's that child's "turn" but also think that children should see that they rewarded for putting in an effort.

Gentleness Sat 01-Dec-12 16:35:23

Mrz, unfortunately in an environment where children believe these certificates really matter it becomes important to provide ahead for your own weaknesses. We'd get the " certificate book" on a busy Friday lunchtime or early afternoon. I'd often have already chosen the 2 kids to receive the certificate but not always. The checklist helped me focus instead of rushing in for the sake of it when already tired and overloaded, and sometimes I'd have made a couple of notes about the steady achievers but another child had pipped them to it previously.

Surely it is sensible to ensure you have a simple practical solution to prevent mistakes. It's something I started doing voluntarily after a few years of teaching and realising that with more responsibilities it was no longer quite wise to trust my memory on a Friday! Nothing to do with how I worked with quiet kids during the week.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 16:41:17

I'm not sure how a check list ensures the deserving child receives the certificate ...If a child works really hard in my class they would receive instant recognition and I would make a note if I thought the effort should be acknowledged in a school assembly ...

FromEsme Sat 01-Dec-12 16:43:25

Let's face it, certificates and all that are shite. The children care about them, but ultimately they are unlikely to actually help them in their education.

I'd still rather make sure everyone had got one and that I hadn't missed people out, while still continuing to give support to ALL the children in my class.

HumphreyCobbler Sat 01-Dec-12 16:43:42

I expect the children receive instant recognition as well as a certificate. It is not necessarily one or the other.

mrz Sat 01-Dec-12 16:58:13

I mean instant recognition in the form of a certificate or medal or trophy (just not presented in a whole school assembly)

juniper904 Sat 01-Dec-12 17:02:13

Saw this today and it made me think of this thread...

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 01-Dec-12 19:36:37

The teachers amongst you - would you say that we should be concerned about dd's behaviour & effort if she hasn't had a merit certificate in 5 years (approximately 50 children per year group & 1 certificate given out for each year every week)

She just thinks its not worth making an effort now.

juniper904 Sat 01-Dec-12 19:55:00

Picturesinthefirelight I think it's worrying that your DD is motivated purely by the offer of a certificate. Your DD needs to be intrinsically motivated to succeed. At some point in her life, regardless of whether she receives 1 certificate or 100 now, she is going to need to be able to motivate herself rather than relying on external validation.

If your DD is only motivated extrinsically, then I suggest you tackle this before she enters secondary school, where it's very much a small fish, big pond sort of environment and she will find the sink or swim attitude very hard to manage.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 01-Dec-12 20:09:12

She's not purely motivated by the offer of a certificate. I think rather she has become demotivated because she feels that her efforts are never recognised.

Or maybe she just hasn't ever put any effort in.

She complains that several disruptive children disrupt her favourite lesson (music) yet she has always done her best in her most hated subject (PE) but these disruptive children seem to get lots of recognition in the form of certificates and mentions for sporting achievement. (School is very sporty)

She's also not very popular and amongst the group if friends she does have - tends to get bossed around when working in groups etc. her friend throws a tantrum if she doesn't get her own way for example. This friends mum has complained about her not getting a certificate - so she was given one the following week.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 01-Dec-12 20:10:31

I'm deluding myself arnt I? She obviously doesn't work hard enough.

Will stop going on about it now.

juniper904 Sat 01-Dec-12 20:22:40


If it's been the same story for 5 years, then either it's a whole school system that isn't recognising her efforts, or she isn't showing her effort. What do her school reports say? Do they give marks for effort?

Unfortunately, there will always be some children who throw tantrums when they don't get their own way, but you (and the teacher) need to make sure your daughter knows that she should stand her ground with children like that. Otherwise, she will become life's door mat and the friend will become a brat.

ElfOnTheShelf Sat 01-Dec-12 20:23:42

Pictureinthefirelight exactly my point too. My DD also in the same boat as yours and has never been purely motivated by a certificate as she's only mentioning it now after more than 4 years of nothing. It's just she feels her efforts aren't recognised although that doesn't stop her working to the best of her abilities still. She's quiet and pretty much average at everything, so by no means struggling but not the brainiest one either. In her class the strugglers seem to get one and the very high achievers.

I'm not going to mention it as I want her to gain one for her own merit not because I've caused a stink.

They earn merit points for their house so she does get plenty of those luckily but this is the 'cup' that is given to the child who has over excelled every week - not just good work but being kind and helpful etc. Every report I get for DD it says what a pleasure she is to teach and how helpful and kind to her peers she is so that for me is enough and I make sure she reads her report too so she know how well she's doing but a tangible prize of a cup would be wonderful to have (it's just for the weekend and then given back for the next weeks' prize earner).

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 01-Dec-12 20:29:20

She did have a bit if a coasting year in year 4 where she got 2's and 3's for effort but last year after a rollicking from us (she still got good exam results) she got all 1's & 2's for effort. Teachers say she is a pleasure to teach and talented in music & drama.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 01-Dec-12 20:30:43

Ds reports have always been 3's and 4's for effort - always being called in over problems he doesn't like scho yet as I say he has has two of the certificates in the last 3 years.

DeWe Sat 01-Dec-12 21:26:06

I reckoned you could tell the tick box teachers by what they gave the awards for. They always tended to be bland stuff not really special to the child.

For example when dd1 got one for "getting all her sums right" with one teacher she explained to me that they were doing a new topic and none of the others had got it all right. Very proud she was.

The next year she got a certificate for the same thing, and she was confused because she said she usually (if not always) got them all right, and so did all the people on her table. It was clearly a tick box exercise for that teacher, and she wrote the name and thought of what it could be for after.

Mind you the first teacher I thought one of her gifts was what she awarded the certificates for. They were always well thought out, directly for that child, and worded in such a way that that child was the only one who could get it-and every child had at least one a term. Really motivating for the children, because they felt they'd worked and deserved it.

Hulababy Sat 01-Dec-12 21:34:46

I was the overlooked forgotten child. All the way through school too. So we are talking several years and many teachers. Quiet, worked hard but was never top of class, shy, well behaved, etc. After that I knew it was very possible for children to be the overlooked forgotten child.

I like the certificate system our DC's school have. Once a week, one child per class, plus odd extra ones for children nominated by non-class teachers for deserving reasons grin, are put in the golden book. And parents are invited to the assembly to see their child receive their certificate and have the teacher say nice things about them in front of the whole school.

I was there once when DS was in it (for asking good questions on a field trip) and a YR child was in it for writing his name well.

I have no idea whether or not it's a 'make sure every child gets in at least once a year' deal or not, but I had words with DD to tell her that it doesn't matter if you're not in it, but it's a really good thing if you are, and that she may never get in it at all in her time at the school, after she was moaning about not being in it. She seemed to accept that. Then a couple of weeks later she was in it. smile

I also like that they get occasional stickers. They usually have them on their jumpers when they come out so that the parent will then be prompted to ask them what they got the sticker for. This way the parent gets to know what the child has done well without the teacher having to take the time to speak to the parents. Sounds like a good motivator for the child and a time saver for the teacher. Win-win! grin

SE13Mummy Sat 01-Dec-12 23:13:13

If a parent came and asked me why their child hadn't received a certificate yet (we are expected to give out one per week, linked to the school values) I would explain that I haven't yet felt that their child deserved a certificate over and above the child it's been awarded to each week.

I keep a record of what the certificates are given for so that children aren't given two certificates for the same thing...my own DD1 has received certificates at her school for 'being polite, hard-working and an excellent role model' or something to that effect. Whilst it's lovely that she's noticed for those things, that's just how she is at school. I would prefer that she was recognised for taking a risk with her learning or working to achieve something out of her comfort zone as I think this would have more impact upon her than being given a certificate for being an 'easy pupil'.

Children in my class know that the certificates are not an entitlement and that it's not a turn-taking thing. Every certificate that I give out is genuine - they aren't being given out just for being in my class!

juniper904 Sun 02-Dec-12 00:27:05

I've had a few 'errm... excuse me, Miss Juniper904, but so-and-so has been the star twice this term. Did you make a mistake?' from children.

I try to give all the children a 'turn', but if someone wows me, I will make them the star. But I do record it.

ljny Sun 02-Dec-12 05:05:47

I think rather she has become demotivated because she feels that her efforts are never recognised.

This is so very sad.

...but these disruptive children seem to get lots of recognition in the form of certificates

And they call themselves a school?? WHAT are they teaching this child?

juniper904 Mon 03-Dec-12 19:31:28

And they call themselves a school?? WHAT are they teaching this child?

That it's never too late to turn things around, and that there is an alternative way to behave? That you can get attention for positive behaviour, rather than negative? That no personality is set in stone and that, with the correct encouragement, everyone can succeed?

Ljny, I'm not sure I follow your point.

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