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School prize giving...

(27 Posts)
fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 08:12:14

Ok, don't want to be controversial here but this week I have attended the annual prize giving at my children's school. It is a close-knit primary school in the Middle East with about 150 pupils.

Now then, last year I happened to notice that kids whose parents worked in the school all got prizes. Hmmm, bit fishy but I let it go. This year, sitting next to my friend, a supply teacher, we were discussing whether our kids stood any chance of winning anything and I joked that if it's anything like last year hers will get something along with the other staff kids. Sure enough my friend was astonished to see her son win the prize for handwriting. Not only that, all 9 kids with parents working at the school won prizes, even in wishy-washy categories like cheerfulness and citizenship, which frankly could have gone to any well-behaved child.

On top of all this (sour grapes time), my eldest is a bright kid who is rubbish at sport and struggles with friendships. He has been getting very down lately as his two best mates were in the winning team at sports day, whilst my 7 year old was put in a running race next to a sporty 11 year old and lost by a mile. The teachers picked him up and pointed out that you can't be good at everything, that he should be proud of his academic achievements. Needless to say, last night his two mates (whose mums work in the school) won prizes (cheerfulness and diligence) and my son got nothing. Not only that, the numeracy prize went to the senior administrator's daughter, who isn't even in the top set, and the reading prize went to a kid who has repeated year 2, is dyslexic, and is on a lower reading book than my 5 year old, his mum is the school receptionist.

Now then, am I being unreasonable getting upset by this and should I raise it with the school. I think the management need to know that parents notice these things.

Your thoughts ladies please...

PomBearWithAnOFRS Thu 21-Jun-12 08:14:26

Don't do it unless your DCs are not going back to that school next year. If they are that blatant with the favouritism, it's just not worth the risk to your children if they are going back to the school. It is just too easy for the people in question to "take it out on" them in so many little ways and make them miserable. Just let it go.

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 08:20:07

Actually, my kids are leaving the school this year which is why I feel like saying something. There's only one week of term left (hooray) but I do think something needs to be said. I'm normally very laid back and don't kick up a fuss about things but I do feel very strongly about this one.

CruCru Thu 21-Jun-12 08:25:16

Perhaps you could do it as part of the general feedback on leaving (if there is such a thing). You know, "X has really enjoyed his time here, particularly blah blah. One thing to mention is that people have noticed that the only kids who get prizes at the end of the year are those with parents on the staff. It's starting to seem as though the prize-giving is a bit of a farce and not to be taken seriously".

takingiteasy Thu 21-Jun-12 08:27:12

Maybe they're rewarding effort? I'm jutt thinking about the dyslexic boy. How do you even know the ins and outs of another child's reading abilities?

CruCru Thu 21-Jun-12 08:34:34

I do hate this sort of thing (prizes at end of year). If not handled very well, there is a risk that it spoils a lot of people's goodwill towards the school.

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 08:34:37

I know, I know, they are rewarding effort too, I get that. But it is the bias towards staff kids that bothers me. Like I said, it is a close knit school and I'm friends with a supply teacher. Her son (with the beautiful handwriting) also struggles with reading and is in the same set as the prize winner, my year 1 DD is in a higher set than them and she is by no means the best.

bijou3 Thu 21-Jun-12 08:51:08

This is standard Middle Eastern policy the schools need to retain teachers so they give the teachers children the lead role in the school play, prizes on prize day, star of the week at least 10 times during the year etc, etc. It’s just the way it is, don’t let it worry you.

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 09:06:08

It's not what you know, it's who you know. A harsh lesson to learn so young.

Oppsididitagain Thu 21-Jun-12 09:24:34

I hate it when it's either the stuff or the PTA members kids who either get all the prizes and all the decent roles in plays
however,
the examples regarding kids not in top set or the dyslexic child are apsolutly not unacceptable prize recepiants often when it comes to kids children who struggle but don't get the same results as those who don't struggle often have to put it much more effort try much harder with little or no hope of attaining the same level of work with prize giving for learning it's not like a sport race it's the amount of effort and hard work that's celebrated to just the result.
My sister was one of those kid geniuses (daily telegraph story and everything) she never had to make any effort doing work at her age level it was piss easy for her ergo no effort on her behalf I have a learning disability ergo any attempt to gain anywhere near the results of a child the same age as me to massive ammounts of effort more hard work iykwim?

takingiteasy Thu 21-Jun-12 09:28:04

But maybe for the boy with dyslexia he's put in heaps of effort and hard work to get to the stage he has given that reading would be a struggle for him in the first place.

Spatsky Thu 21-Jun-12 09:37:49

I agree all the prizes going to staff member children is well fishy, but, I don't think you canhave a complain based on the winning children not being as good at stuff as your child simply because IMO the children that struggle and work really hard deserve recognition just as much as the children that achieve at the highest levels.

Cheerfullness sounds like a crap award though and it does sound from your post that the staff children are getting everything regardless.

I wouldn't raise it personally if the children are leaving the school anyway, it will look like sour grapes however you broach it.

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 09:48:46

I agree that effort should be rewarded and it is. Once again it is the fact that it is the staff kids that bothers me.

Regarding the dyslexic kid - he is a lovely boy and his mum is lovely too. It's great that he is rewarded for his efforts. But I can't help wondering how so many staff kids got prizes. If his mum didn't work at the school would someone else have won the prize?

Taking your points though, there were a good range of prizes, something for everyone - art, PE, citizenship, progress, diligence, handwriting, achievement in maths, achievement in literacy etc. Why is it ok for naturally sport kids to get the PE prize but not for naturally brainy kids to get academic prizes? It doesn't have to be my kids winning prizes, it should be the most deserving kids, and it certainly shouldn't be a staff-kids-mutual-appreciation-fest.

A few weeks ago I gamely sat and watched my children lose their races at sports day. I told them I was proud of them and that they did really well. The sporty kids got their trophies and their moment of glory. Why is it then that it is ok to celebrate sporting achievement but not academic achievement? My DS truly believes that he'd have more friends and be more popular if he was more sporty and less academic. How on earth do I convince him otherwise?

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 10:45:45

Right, thanks for your thoughts ladies. Obviously I won't say anything at school, it would sound like sour grapes. In fact, reading my own posts it sounds like sour grapes even to myself!

It's been good to talk it out - I'm just gonna have to get over it. It's not as if my kids are bothered! Will keep a listen out for what other parents are saying though. Enjoy your days!

L x

ripsishere Thu 21-Jun-12 10:54:18

TBH, if you have noticed it, other parents will have too.
At a school in Bangkok my DH taught at, one woman's son was in every publicity photo, year book was full of his drawings, if there was a school play he had his picture on the programme - you get the picture.
His mum was the woman who put the publicity together strangely enough. A couple of parents noticed and it became a game 'who can find the most pictures of J in a handout' we would circle them in red. A pint in the red lion for the winner.
Let it go.

Hullygully Thu 21-Jun-12 10:58:06

you could tell your child the truth as bijou3 outlines it, then he wouldn't mind so much

mockingjay Thu 21-Jun-12 11:07:21

Well, actually the 'effort' thing would bug me (as well as the teacher's children issue). On the one hand, effort should absolutely be rewarded, but so should achievement. Otherwise, why didn't your DS win the sportsday race for 'trying hard'?

Things like 'dedication' and 'most improved reader' are subjective. A prize for 'handwriting' shouldn't be.

cornishsue Thu 21-Jun-12 11:10:41

It's maddening, isn't it? The same happened when my children were in primary school. Also children of staff/helpers/governors always got the lead roles in plays and won any competitions that were voted on by staff. Like you I so wanted to say something, but I never did. I realised nothing I could say would make any difference and had the risk of making my children unpopular with the staff. Then one year when I acted as a helper in the school, guess what - yes the 3 children of mine that were in the school then, got prizes! In later years when my husband had helped out in a senior school my son got one of the major parts in the school play.

It was so obvious that by the time the children were in Year 6 they had all noticed too. They were all able to work out which children would get prizes, regardless of effort or attainment. I have always thought children have an inate sense of fair play and so in some ways it made things difficult for the prize winning children and encouraged their unpopularity (even though of course, it was not their 'fault').

mockingjay Thu 21-Jun-12 11:13:32

I would also take issue with them telling your 7 yo DS that 'you can't be good at everything'. So now he thinks he's can't be any good at anything other than academic things? Self fulfilling prophecy, especially at such a young age!

thegreylady Thu 21-Jun-12 11:25:24

I would send the head a letter with all the examples and point out that you won't be the only parent to notice this.

MerryMarigold Thu 21-Jun-12 11:29:55

You should tell them to scrap prize giving. It is super demotivating for the 101 kids who get nothing.

ParkbenchSociety Thu 21-Jun-12 11:48:47

Been there done that.......

Also at a foreign junior private school. Possibly even worse than OPs case in that awards seemed to be given on how much the parents donated rather than anything else. Including academic awards hmm The Police had to come and restrain a boy who violently attacked a teacher and he still got an award later in the year. His parents had donated a classroom and all the computers to go in it.
My kids could see it for what it was and I don't think it bothered them at all. We just used to joke about it.

fluffybob Thu 21-Jun-12 12:07:58

Loving all your stories!

Thinking about it cornishsue, I was a parent governor in the UK and my kids were cast as Mary & Joseph in their nativity plays so I suppose I have been on the other side too. I could see it for what it was and was a little embarrassed about it. My DD was a wonderful Mary but my DS was dreadful as Joseph, he kept pretending to fall asleep and falling off his chair. Serves them right!

ParkBenchSociety - yes, I think that's how the Arabic and Islamic studies prizes were allocated - parental donations! Sadly none of the staff kids were eligible for those ones.

Sounds like this is par for the course in the education minefield and I need to get a thicker skin.

veritythebrave Thu 21-Jun-12 12:33:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jApEs1 Sat 06-Dec-14 10:24:25

I have just returned from a prize giving ceremony. My daughter won 3 prizes which was unexpected and great for her. My son won nothing - despite being top in his class for maths and science. The principal's three children won 12+ medals between them - people stopped clapping when on several occasions they received the awards in areas that they were known to be weaker.

The favouritism really took away from the event. My son handled the situation really well but it did not give him a good experience of hard work/talent = reward. And the principal's kids? What are they learning from this? Not something I value!

This event is compulsory and I know a number of people who dread having to attend because of what goes on. I am also concerned that such blatant favouritism at a ceremony must reflect what goes on day-to-day in the school.

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