Written by Kate Quigley – 11th April 2017
As a child growing up I loved watching Bullseye. Not because I loved darts but because I enjoyed seeing people who lived in landlocked Leicester win a speedboat, panic about whether it would fit in their garage, then try to look pleased because it was a reward. It was meant to be a reward for all the hours they had spent practising darts, for applying for the show and beating their nerves and the other contestants to glorious victory. But it often fell short because it wasn’t personal to them nor was it what they wanted or what they needed. It was just what they were given.
From the arcades at the end of Brighton pier to the aisles of the local supermarket – we find the promise of a reward. Spend £100 on food shopping and get enough points to get a free apple, play 8 games of deal or no deal on Brighton pier and win 500 tokens, just enough to claim a free plastic toy.
At Pivotal we spend a lot of time thinking about rewards and recognition, considering what the prizes are for good behaviour in classrooms across the country and whether those prizes are having an impact on the behaviour of children. What we know from all of the schools and colleges that we have visited is that everyone does it differently. From walls of fame and points systems to whole class trips to the cinema. Some believe the bigger the prize the more likely the children are to behave. But I would have to disagree.
For me the value of a reward is not how big or expensive it is, but what it means to that child, how it is given and who it is given by.
To be recognised for your own personal achievement, whether that is turning up every day on time for a term or managing to stay in a class for 30 minutes instead of 3 minutes for a week has value for you as an individual. When that recognition comes through sincere and genuine praise from a classroom teacher or learning support assistant the value increases further. Add into that the ability to share this reward with your parent or carer and it increases again.
At a time when all schools and colleges are looking at costs valuable rewards don’t have to cost the earth. At Pivotal we think the ones that don’t, when given well, are the most effective. A positive note written and given out during the class, a phone call home on a Friday to a parent about something you have seen that is brilliant or simple praise for great behaviour are all low cost and can be enjoyed by all children – even those in landlocked Leicester.