Schools have been closed for the majority of secondary school pupils now for over three months but that hasn’t stopped some schools wheeling out the annual gong fest that is the end of year of awards.
In primary school, rewards are great. Generally, they come in the shape of weekly accolades that get shared equally and often among all the pupils. Certificates for ‘Learner of The Week’ are greeted joyfully in the playground on Friday afternoons. Grandparents are called. Fridges are adorned. Everyone feels good about the achievement.
At secondary school, however, it can bring about a hard moment at the end of a long year. Just as you are starting to exhale; here comes the list.
You scan the names…. you scan again. Nope. Not there.
It’s hard not to feel like your child hasn’t ever so slightly failed.
Even the fullest mum (and dad) hearts can sink.
You see, up to that point, you have felt properly proud of your offspring for turning up day in, day out; working hard; handing in homework.
You feel certain they have done their best.
But someone else’s best is better.
(Oh, apart from if your child gets an award. Scan…. scan… scan… oh my... THEY ARE THERE! Then the whole system seems wholly marvellous and entirely fair!)
I don’t want to sound like I don’t agree with awards. I read a couple of years ago about a secondary school that abolished all competitive sport in an attempt to enable everyone to feel like a winner. That’s just daft.
No, love them or loathe them, prize giving is a ritual that is woven into the fabric of school life. It gives pupils an important early life lesson in the merits of working hard and achievement. But perhaps – in these times of blurred lines and individual experiences of school being so widely different – it doesn’t serve a school community well to point the positive finger.
Love them or loathe them, prize giving is a ritual woven into the fabric of school life. But perhaps – in these times of blurred lines and individual experiences of school being so widely different – it doesn’t serve a school community well to point the positive finger.
Does that pupil really need to be singled out for a ‘Highly Commended’ approach to Chemistry?
Is the ‘Effort’ award for English something that should be given to a whole swathe of pupils who have attempted to teach themselves Shakepeare via YouTube?
Honestly, I don’t know.
Just like many parents don’t know how on earth they have coped with any aspect of education since the schools closed for all but the children of key workers on March 20.
What I do know, however, is that it would take not a lot of effort but have a great deal of impact if each head teacher gave out an All School Award this year.
A virtual gong to go with the virtual school experience that will impact on many thousands of children for years to come.