Silverdale Primary School drops prizegiving over 'ranking and sorting' concerns

A primary school in Auckland has cancelled its school prizegiving over concerns of ranking students against each other.

The principal of Auckland's Silverdale Primary School on the Hibiscus Coast said in an October newsletter that the school would not follow through with its end-of-year prizegiving ceremony.

Principal Cameron Lockie wrote, "Rewards - like punishments - are unnecessary" when the community is already caring and where students have a "significant degree of choice about what, and how, they are learning".

Silverdale Primary School drops prizegiving over 'ranking and sorting' concerns
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He was quoting Alfie Kohn, author of the book The Risk of Rewards, which claims, "Punishment, even if referred to euphemistically as "consequences," tends to generate anger, defiance, and a desire for revenge".

"There is abundant research showing that awards, rewards and other external incentives undermine intrinsic motivation," Mr Lockie said. "For the majority of children who don't receive awards, the prizegiving spurs boredom, anger or resentment."

"If we continuously tell our children that every single one of them is important to our school, I do not see how end-of-year prizegiving aligns with this belief."

The school has received mixed feedback, with Silverdale resident Tracey Smith telling NZME she questions how students will understand how they are progressing at school.

"If we don't teach our kids to be the best they can be and learn how to fail sometimes they will be very disillusioned when they hit the real world," she said.

But Mr Lockie said it's about teaching children to "get children to succeed because they want to succeed and not because of a reward at the end which is subjective at best".

The school will continue to hand out Principal Awards and team awards throughout the year, Mr Lockie said, which are "based on our values and recognise what children have done".