1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Meaningful Reward Ideas

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by adjemal, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. adjemal

    adjemal New commenter

    My schools reward system for students is in need of an overhaul. It's out of date, meaningless for the majority and having no impact. I understand how important it is to have a reward system that encourages and empowers students to want to do well and want to suggest something new.

    Can anyone share any inspiring ideas from their schools that, in particular work well for the diseffected as well as whole school?

  2. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    Hello, I will gather some ideas for you - what sort of school do you work in? Primary/secondary?

    I also think this is a vital part of a school's policy and one that is all too often neglected.
    HBly likes this.
  3. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    You need to consider the ethos of the setting and what motivates the students Just settling on a number of reward mechanisms is not enough even if they are the results of your having canvassed the students as to their preferences. Blanket systems often have limited impact and sustainability. You need to look at what is rewarded and why - ensuring consistency from staff can be problematic too. Celebrating and acknowledging effort and achievement in all its forms is crucial.
  4. adjemal

    adjemal New commenter

    Thank you for the replies as always.

    It's a secondary school. Challenging multi-cultural school located in a deprived area of London. Behaviour is an issue across the school but is being hit hard by staff through various reprimands. Emphasis has been put on the 'actions' following misbehaviour rather than encouraging and rewarding positive behaviour.

    Interested to hear what other schools are doing to reward and promote positive behaviour.

    Thanks again.
  5. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Ok adjemal - a tough and frustrating situation. I worked in challenging schools throughout my career and it seems to be that a ' reactive ' approach to ill discipline and one which priortises sanctions is counter productive. Suspect the school needs to invest in some whole school quality BFL training - this is more of a long haul than a quick fix re changing the mindset/ conduct of the students. Look to your curruculum models too which are often not fit for purpose ? I know there was a reward thread not so long ago on one of the forums ( secondary / primary? ) and folk contributed their suggestions - hopefully you can track it down to give you a starter for 10 ? Good Luck
  6. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    I think your choice of ‘meaningful’ in the title here is very important. The kids need to be consistently on board and care about the systems for it to have any impact. Although some will suggest that a simple 'well done' should be enough, I don't think it is for a lot of children, especially those that may not receive any positive reinforcement at home. There is a lot of debate surrounding rewards and sanctions in schools – the emphasis given to one or the other, the human desire for praise versus the fear that over-indulging children stunts their independent drives for success – and the following link takes you to an article giving some opinions on those thoughts: https://www.tes.com/articles/behaviour-punishing-rewards-when-praise-becomes-a-sanction

    The second link here provides a list of TES user generated resources (thank you to all those involved) related to rewards used in the classroom that may be of interest to you: https://www.tes.com/articles/rules-and-rewards-resources

    However, the original question was about systems that are effective across a school rather than in individual classrooms and that may also have success with disaffected students.

    The most effective system I have personally worked with was the use of credits awarded through the attendance tracking programme – in this case it was Behaviourwatch but I know many schools use SIMS or other programmes and I am sure they will all have a version of this available. In this school, also a multi-cultural inner city secondary, students were awarded ‘credits’ for a whole range of positive behaviours. This could include, but was not limited to, excellent effort in class, personal responsibility, going above and beyond in any area, helping another pupil etc. The flexibility allowed teachers to award them as appropriate according to individual students.

    The credits were easy and quick to record and some teachers used a version of names and ticks on the board to show students’ progress towards them in lessons, whilst others worked on more individual terms. The school shop stocked items that could be ‘purchased’ with the credits and although the number of credits needed was high, students were motivated to earn rewards they really wanted and could choose. These items included things such stickers and stationery (in my experience always lacking in inner city schools) and £5 vouchers for high street shops, itunes and Amazon, which endearingly most students would try to earn ahead of Christmas or a family birthday.

    Alongside this, mentors were able to run a quick report daily/weekly/monthly to see what credits had been earned and this provided a valuable talking point with many, particularly disaffected, students. In assemblies at the end of term, successes would be celebrated and because students could earn credits for a variety of reasons, the overall winners were less predictable than with some other reward systems.

    I think this worked there because it was:
    • Consistent across the school

    • Not time consuming for staff

    • Clearly linked to positive behaviour

    • Element of choice in terms of rewards

    • Separate from sanctions

    • Publically acknowledged three times a year

    • Element of competition works for some students but no-one had to know a student’s total unless they chose to share it

    • Personally accrued – range of ways to earn credits

    • Simple for mentors/tutors to view as an insight into their mentee’s achievement

    • Not overly expensive (it required a lot of credits to gain the vouchers)
    There are of course many arguments against giving students tangible ‘prizes’ for good behaviour but I did see it having a positive impact in this school because it was followed and valued by staff and students alike.

    In addition to this, each year group leader created a passport to the end of term/year treat – this might be a trip or a party, or for Year 11 The Prom. Students had to receive a certain number of stamps in order to get an invitation to this treat and stamps were given for positive behaviour. In Year 11 this also included attending after school revision sessions (again, yes they should want success in exams for themselves but some students do need a push in the right direction). These also proved successful and created a culture of students self-censoring and supporting each other to do the right thing because it was a shared experience at the end and they wanted their friends to attend.

    Getting the students on board seems to be the most important aspect. I have recently made reward scratch cards only to have it belittled by one Year 11 class (although others liked it) so it’s important to find out how they think they should be praised.

    As with all these things, ideally students will learn the value of doing the right thing for its own sake but I think many schools find that a consistent sense of it being noticed can help with this development.

    Can anyone else share what has worked across a school in their experience?
  7. katykook

    katykook Occasional commenter

    A phone call home is always effective and can make the parents feel involved - especially if they are usually being called about poor behaviour.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Better still is a call home acknowledging greater effort / improved behaviour ( substitute where applicable ). This is truly appreciated by parents who are used to the contrary ! Tried it many many times and it does have impact. Remember this is a thread about rewards.
  9. Trendy Art

    Trendy Art Star commenter

    I have a similar situation to adjemal so this thread is timely. At our school, the students and staff know a lot about our sanctions but not enough about positive reinforcement.

    Sarah mentions the credits system, but we already use this and it's not visible enough because students do not make purchases of items. It tends to be that they have accrued their credits until Year 11 when they buy their prom ticket, etc with them.

    Is there any educational theory that might link well to this? I was thinking of Maslow's hierarchy of need - for example, at the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation - creativity and spontaneity. So, a reward might be that students are taken out of last lesson on a Friday - a surprise reward that might help publicise achievement to others.

    In addition, I am very pragmatic, so I like to carry out things that are proven - consultation with students e.g. survey, focus group and with staff for systems and implementation, including the use of a working party. If the answers come from them, there's more ownership of this change process to make it successful based on their ideas.

    I too would welcome thoughts on this.
    sarah_dann1 likes this.
  10. ElPintor

    ElPintor New commenter

    I like a lot of the ideas suggested in this thread, and agree 100% that the focus with regards to behavioural issues should always be on the "rewards" or positive feedback with the sanctions used as a last resort. However, I would be wary about using too many rewards and making them too big or involved, especially at Year 11 level when really, the rewards and benefits of sensible behaviour, hard work and actually learning should technically have become intrinsic. I think what sometimes people forget is that rewards should only be used as a type of "scaffolding" in the earlier stages of education until the children have started to experience the real rewards of learning, and should be gradually removed as soon as they start to grasp this. I am of course very aware that the reality for a lot of youngsters is that they lack the maturity, insight and intelligence to realise just how crucial a decent education is, but there is also an unconscious process that should come into play whereby the reward itself is the natural, biological reward associated with self-improvement and strengthening of one's knowledge and skill set. To bring this about, the onus is really on the teacher and school as a whole to make learning enjoyable, accessible and with an appropriate degree of challenge. Beyond that, genuine verbal praise and the ensuing positive social feedback is of course the best type of reward and incentive to keep trying. Where I have seen teachers and schools going wrong with this is that they make too much of a song and dance about rewards systems and, especially in the case of older children, it just becomes a bit unnatural and forced seeming. I also shudder a bit at the thought of using school budget money to provide prizes, presents, raffles etc. What kind of values does this teach our children, I wonder?
  11. Trendy Art

    Trendy Art Star commenter

    In terms of rewards and sanctions, imagine at the moment our conversations between students and staff as it stands with known whole school systems... break detention, after school detention, leadership detention, internal exclusion, external exclusion. Then rewards... errrr... credits?

    I think the main issue for the OP and myself is that both students and staff in our schools hear a lot (and know) the sanctions system very readily. Having a meaningful discussion about the alternative on the rewards side is important to counterbalance the sanctions. Though I do agree students should be intrisically motivated by learning itself as being the ultimate reward.
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    As a starter for Years 7 and 8 only :

    1 Give each teacher five Golden tokens, five Silver tokens and five Bronze tokens each half term. They must use up all tokens but cannot give more than one token to the same child or more than five tokens to the same class.

    2 Decide what value each token has and the reasons why it is allowed to be given.

    3 Students once awarded a token, must hand it to their tutor as soon as possible - otherwise it goes down in value.

    4 The rewards may well be : phone call home ; donation to charity or something similar that further shows how good behaviour can also help others. But not something that may be seen as as promoting financial gain for the student- ie a free trip.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016
  13. Jo_young

    Jo_young New commenter

    I think the best award is to give the student a positive assessment in front of the whole class based on his/her performance. You assessment should be true and objective. Meanwhile it can encourage the student and arm him or her with confidence and the sense of achievement. I myself have tried it, and it works. You can also have a talk with the individual privately to tell him/her your positive assessment about him or her, which is based on his/her performance.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. HBly

    HBly New commenter

    Did you gather some ideas? I have been teaching for 5 years and just started at a new school this academic year. They have restructured the school day and behaviour policies since Christmas due to a change in the SLT and Head. I have been asked if I would be in charge of developing and managing a whole school rewards system. The school is very small. Only KS4 and 5. Some really tough characters in the student body with a lot of difficult backgrounds and situations for others. I need help with this but I do not want to look like I am hopeless.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    One idea I have read about is to ask the classes what type of rewards they prefer and do a survey. However, don't include sweets or material items like pencil cases etc, since students usually have too much of that already.

    Post cards home, phone calls home, non uniform day, tea and biscuits on a Friday, might be some rewards that students would enjoy.

Share This Page