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School maths badges- struggling to see the positives

(28 Posts)
itsatrap Thu 21-Apr-16 20:31:36

Writing this on behalf of dsis as she isn't a member but is very keen to hear some views on this.

New head started recently at her dd''s school (yr 1 and yr 3) so inevitably there have been some changes most of which have been positive. Dsis usually very supportive of school and does go above and beyond with pta etc.

Anyway, I'll get to the point! Thus week a new reward scheme has been introduced whereby children in all years are given a series of "quick fire" maths quizzes.

Stage one is '1 more or less than' numbers up to 10, then getting progressively harder. They include times tables number bonds etc. I think she said there were 12 stages in all. So far no problem, dsis feels that being able to do quick mental arithmetic is generally a good idea and can be pretty useful.
On completion of each stage the children are given a badge to wear at school to indicate what level they are on. This is what she has the issue with. The children are aware of what the stages are and which are lower and higher etc. It is not compulsory to wear the badge but is encouraged.

When we discussed this we both failed to see what positives could be gained from this scheme? Won't it just serve to damage the self esteem for those who, although may try the hardest, are just not good at maths? Create divides within the class and school? Dsis has already overheard children boasting about having badges the same as kids in higher years/ badges higher than their friends.

We also wondered if they would do badges for other things, English, sports, art, being kind, being helpful etc etc. It seems pupils will be instantly judged on one single academic ability.

So I guess the aibu is to wonder if there are any positives to this scheme?? Has anyone else's dcs school done this or similar? If so what was the outcomes? Of anyone can cast a positive light on this please do!!

WombatStewForTea Thu 21-Apr-16 20:36:31

The badges will be more about getting the children to learn and practise those key skills. The children will want the badges so they will practise.

I'm a teacher and those basic skills are so important that anything to improve them is a win for me.

itsatrap Thu 21-Apr-16 20:38:01

Do you think a stamp in the back of their workbook would be equally as rewarding? Or a certificate?

WombatStewForTea Thu 21-Apr-16 20:44:40

Depends entirely on the child! Some are self motivated, others are happy with certificates and others not so. Some simply aren't motivated whatever the reward.

Is it a small school? The badges must cost them a small fortune.

PotteringAlong Thu 21-Apr-16 20:50:33

So pupils are trying hard at maths and, instead of seeing maths as something they can't do are chuffed at being good at it and working hard at it? I can't see the problem.

Leslieknope45 Thu 21-Apr-16 20:52:30

They're trying to make maths cool and make it so that you keep working on the basic skills until you have cracked them.

PPie10 Thu 21-Apr-16 20:56:34

Won't it just serve to damage the self esteem for those who, although may try the hardest, are just not good at maths?

And what about those who are very capable and see this as rewarding for working harder. If it helps encourage some children to work harder then what's the problem. I also don't see an issue with children knowing what stages each other is in.

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 21-Apr-16 20:57:57

My gut reaction was the same as yours. But then I remembered the string of swimming badges that DD has sewn on her towel and how she's always very keen to get another one. So I guess the idea of working through a series of badges is nothing new.

And I do tend to agree that anything that helps children think maths is cool and something to strive at is probably good.

Much will depend on how they handle any bragging and boasting that goes along with the wearing of a badge!

TeenAndTween Thu 21-Apr-16 20:58:01

I think this is one of those things that works for some, is neutral to some and disheartening to others. It depends on the proportions in each (and where your own child is) on how you view it.

My DD1 would have been motivated by this to try to get the next badge and would have put extra effort in.
My DD2 would have seen other more able kids getting high badges when she was struggling with basics and would become disheartened and emotionally this would be very hard for her.

It also depends on ethos of school. Some of DD2's classmates can be very quick to point out to her areas where she is less able ...

NaughtToThreeSadOnions Thu 21-Apr-16 20:58:51

No a badge is a physical reward, at that age it's important, much the same as swimming badges, it's not a new concept, swimming badges were often sewn on to costumes and towels, even when I was young, everyone knew that 25 meters was better than 10, and 50 was better than 25 etc a stamp in a book when your in primary school what's that it doesn't mean anything at all. A certificate, well irs likely to be given to parents an forgotten about. A piece of paper isn't a reward.

The knowing of levels isn't to discourage the less able more to encourage everyone to strive for the next level!

shouldwestayorshouldwego Thu 21-Apr-16 21:06:45

Ds hated a similar system. He stumbles over words sometimes but is very able at maths. His current teacher says that his mind is working faster than he can get the words out. They had to say the answers really quickly and if they didn't say them fast enough or stumbled over an answer then they had to wait a week before they could try again. They had to be flawless three weeks in a row to move on. He would come out really upset because he stumbled over a word. He was 5 ffs!!! Yes not yr 5, but just 5 in yr 1. So glad we moved schools, he's much more relaxed now.

minionsrule Thu 21-Apr-16 21:18:38

As PP's have said, it can be very motivational, my DS loved it but he was very good at maths and took great pride in being the first in his class to get his final badge. I think our school have actually done away with it now though.
The thing I found strange was teachers asking kids if they wanted to go for the next level and the kids saying no, they didn't feel ready or hadn't practiced enough, like they couldn't handle failing. It didn't matter if you didn't get it first time, you could try again next time they did it. That however is a different topic

Osolea Thu 21-Apr-16 21:31:44

Like most things at school, it sounds like it will be great for some children, but not great for others. The scheme that works perfectly for all children just doesn't exist.

I don't think it's nice to say that children are boasting about having some if the higher grade badges, they are proud of themselves and that's just what young children do.

On the whole, I wouldn't like something like this to be implemented at my school. Children with more involved parents than others are going to be at an unfair advantage, and that doesn't need to be displayed. I rarely find that the children who try the hardest are the lower achievers academically though. While some are naturally more able than others, and often the less able ones do put in effort, they also tend to be the ones that don't listen properly in class and don't settle down to work as best they can. Badges to motivate them is fine and probably works well overall, but I don't think they need to be encouraged to wear them every day.

CinderellaRockefeller Thu 21-Apr-16 21:54:50

Do you agree with winning medals in sports races? All kids are good at something and it's nice for them to be proud of that and celebrate that.

DC's school give out badges for EVERYTHING, clubs, behaviour (working up a score card) achievement, exceptional merit prize, they wear them on their blazers and are really proud of them. A bit of competition is really heathy, and if the higher achieving kids are using it to pick on the not so highly achieving kids then I would expect the school to crack down on that behaviour. Not to remove indications of ability and merit from everyone in case of bullying.

TeenAndTween Thu 21-Apr-16 22:04:57

Winning medals in sports is difference though Cinderella as they don't go around for the rest of term wearing them.

Also, actually all kids are not good at something, at least within the school environment.

But a school that does badges for everything is probably better than one that just picks out a few things. My DD is not good at anything at school, except behaving nicely, so at least at your school she would get something for that.

unlucky83 Thu 21-Apr-16 23:13:32

I was going to say I think it is a good idea - motivation for the children but just read Osolea's post and actually they have a really good point. I agree children with 'involved' (pushy) parents will be at 'an advantage' (or maybe actually a disadvantage as they might feel pressurised) because it is obvious to everyone (inc parents) what level everyone's child is at ...
Our school did a reading thing - children got a stamp for every book they read in different categories. When they had a stamp in each column they got a certificate, which was displayed on the achievement board.
And within days some DCs had certificates. Two in particularly (same class and with very competitive parents ) were racing each other... it was actually getting ridiculous. Reading 'easy' books because they could read more than one a night etc. Meanwhile ones with 'less interested' parents didn't even have one certificate.
My DC only got a couple. I didn't encourage (or discourage it) at first but when they were getting upset because they only had one certificate and X had got 4 and so forcing themselves to read a pile of books they didn't want to I started to hate it. DC also stopped reading the quite long chapter books (a series) they were enjoying because it took a while to read one to get a stamp. I felt it was taking all pleasure out of reading.
I 'complained' (voiced my concerns) to the school and I think other parents must have too, or the school realised the same because they changed it to only books read within school (and pre approved by the teacher as the right level) counted and they get to take the certificate home - they aren't displayed - I think a much better system.

FriskyFrog Thu 21-Apr-16 23:17:01

School maths badges- struggling to see the positives

Arf! grin

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 21-Apr-16 23:48:54

If the aim is to encourage motivation and perseverance, it doesn't really work though. It sort of goes against the stuff that we know does work.

A little competition is good. Too much is bad. And I suspect this is the wrong sort of competition. And I have a huge issue with the fact they are using maths, of all things to introduce this. There's enough problems getting children engaged in maths without using extrinsic rewards to put off a large number of them very early on.

itsatrap Fri 22-Apr-16 08:00:44

Thanks very much for all your responses. Bit of a mixed bag but hopefully it will be a positive experience for dns.

Toffeelatteplease Fri 22-Apr-16 08:20:54

I think it stupid and doesn't compare in the slightest with swimming.

Basic Swimming is a learnable physical skill. It is mostly inclusive. In nearly all cases, 10m 25m 50m, you will get there if you work long and hard enough at it. By the time you get to the stage where only some will reach the required skill level you have the option to drop out or do a club without badges.

Now that kind of maths is totally dependent on what you are blessed with the ability to do it in the first place. You can be fantastic at maths and crap at the kind of maths that your talking about. That is the kind of thing that convinces future mathematicians that they are rubbish and not to bother.

It also highlights and emphasises the gap between the best and the worst, encouraging the best to think they are better than everyone else simply because they can get a badge others can't. And for many it will be can't.

It is absolutely horrible

Dellarobia Fri 22-Apr-16 08:27:14

Swimming is not inclusive at all! It's highly dependent on whether your parents took you to classes as a child rather than innate ability.

I agree that the school is trying to make being good at maths cool rather than geeky. I don't quite agree with this method though.

RidersOnTheStorm Fri 22-Apr-16 08:29:52

I think badges for academic achievement are a brilliant idea.

Toffeelatteplease Fri 22-Apr-16 08:48:00

That's a different matter. You are confusing inclusivity based on ability with inclusivity based on choice and opportunity. There is a choice whether you opt into swimming or not, if you are not swimming there us no point worrying about whether the badges are motivating you or not because you won't be doing them!!. There is no choice whether you opt into this scheme or not.

BestZebbie Fri 22-Apr-16 08:56:53

Surely this is just going to lead to a push to the middle for everyone - children on low badges will want to not be (in case they are teased) and children on high badges will also want to not be (in case they are teased). So everyone will pool at about 60% of the way up, or suffer social consequences.

itsatrap Fri 22-Apr-16 09:05:34

Have to say I agree with you toffee and I really hope this is not something they introduce at dcs school

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