It's about prizes innit?

24 Jun

This time last year we were preparing for the school’s annual prize giving where my children were to receive no less than NINE merit awards between them, 5 for my daughter and 4 for my son. I was chuffed as a chuffed thing… blah blah. It’s nice that their hard work is recognised and the fact that half the school seem to get them doesn’t really bother me, or them, all that much. It’s about applying yourself innit? Having said that, thanks to some daftie teachers inability to point at the bi-annual CAT scores and say “You should be doing better” I know my kids are hovering at or near the top of their respective year groups. I’m pretty much of the opinion they don’t need to know this but meh, the “mistake” was made and attention was drawn to it, done and dusted.

This year they are getting nuttin’, nyada, nowt. And I’m confused.

How can my kids go from 5 and 4 merit awards to nothing in the space of a year? Does this mean that there’s something not going at all well with their levels of attainment? That’s some serious drop off if you ask me. No? Yes? What does it mean? Anything? Nothing?

And what do I do? I’m scared to raise the subject with them in case they think it really matters. Prizes, bits of paper from the school saying you’re better than a whole lot of others…. they don’t mean anything I have a stack of them myself. But that’s a BIG drop.

I’m wary of coming across as some hothouse parent with entitlement issues if I contact the school to ask but something just doesn’t feel right about this. There’s nothing in their report cards to indicate a problem, nothing at all, they’re doing great. So why are they suddenly off the prize list? It’s not like their awards have dropped off slowly as they specialised in subjects, nine to nothing is not a gradual thing is it?

What to do?

Ignore it?

Ask the school if there’s a problem (or two) they’ve forgotten to mention to me?

What to do?

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19 Responses to “It's about prizes innit?”

  1. Priness_L_88 June 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    At my school it worked like this: The ones that tried hard (i.e. weren’t getting fantastic grades but were trying) got merit things to encourage them and the clever ones got nothing. It was assumed that a good report was enough to encourage them. So it could be as simple as “they’re already achieving so they don’t need any encouragement.” If you’re worried though phone the school and ask.

    • liveotherwise June 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

      Similarly here. When I was at my (very posh, expensive but funded through assisted place) private school, in the first two years I got form prizes. In the third year I got either the top or second top exam results in the year, with over 80% in every exam. I got a commendation, which was a piece of paper, not even the form prize (book token) I’d got previously. In other words, it was felt that I was doing fine without any extra incentive and marked the beginning of my disillusionment with the whole academic achievement system. 😦

      I’d be tempted to check whether the kids are still doing fine by asking the school, and then talk to them seriously about what the whole awards thing actually means and is for.

      • Priness_L_88 June 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

        Maybe it’s a private school thing then, I went to a private school too. It always used to amuse me that in the subjects I was rubbish at I got commendations and the ones I was good at I got nothing! I think it’s an extension of this “no one can lose” culture that seems to be taking over too.

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

      I fear you might be correct – it would fit with the ethos that they reward kids with rides in a Hummer and a meal out for the great achievement of…. eh… turning up now and again and not battering anyone?

      Mind you – maybe they forgot to mention to the new head it is actually a state school, I’m beginning to wonder if he knows since he’s now trying to force all the kids into BLAZERS – aye that’ll be right!

  2. If I Could Escape June 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    The system they have over here is not much better in my opinion. It ONLY rewards those that get A’s. Take for example, in the case of my oldest son who just had his 8th grade graduation. He is taking advanced classes β€” one of which β€” is 10th grade geometry β€” that he makes B’s and C’s in. That’s right he made one C during the year but came out of it with a B in a freaking HIGH SCHOOL class. So, he did make honors, however, not the Presidential Honor roll for making straight A’s which he would have done had he been in a regular 8th grade math class. So, he along with a few others in the same boat (taking challenging advanced courses which they did not get a straight A in) got to watch fellow classmates a lot of whom were in easier classes where it was easy for them to get that A, get all these academic accolades when the one C he got all year negated all the straight A’s he’d made plus the close to perfect scores he got on the FCAT. Not that I’m knocking his friends’ achievements at all. Just a little peeved here. That is all.

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

      Ooh good point – both mine are in fast track English, Kathryn just sat her Standard Grade (like O Grade) English in third year and is expected to get an A pass, Andrew will hopefully be doing the same next year – not easy to be top of that class I imagine πŸ™‚ But Andrew is just in S2 and the class he got all his awards in last year is the same class he is in now… ARGH! I’m thinking too much about this I know I am I just feel for them, it will be the first prize giving Kathryn isn’t at and I just feel for her.

      • liveotherwise June 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

        how does she feel about it?

        • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

          I’m scared to draw attention to it to be honest – I haven’t actually asked – trying to brush it all under the carpet into lalalalaland! I wish they didn’t give out so many awards in 1st and 2nd year – it just sets them up for a disappointment I’m trying not to make my own! πŸ™‚

  3. Vegemitevix June 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Tricky one. I think I’d ask, otherwise you’ll never know and bugger it if they think you’re over competitive. I know I’m wondering why my youngest hasn’t been invited to the special kids’ Mind Labs extension group when I know she fits the criteria. Like you I need to ask, but I do feel a bit pushy-mum actually confronting the school. At my posh private school you only got prizes if you won academically. But that was back in the day when Adam was a lad so things have prob changed since then. x

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

      Oh gawd knows how it works – I’m probably better not knowing πŸ™‚ back off and STFU as all good mothers should do from time to time huh? πŸ˜‰

  4. Nickie@Typecast June 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I had something similar at my son’s gymnastic club. He was rushed through his BAGA work, moved up to the display team, entered into competition after competition, was eager to learn, working way beyond his age-expectancy, difficult moves… everything. Then when the annual prize-giving came at the Christmas Display he didn’t get “most improved” – it was given to someone who’d been in the club for longer, who had less ability. I never mentioned to anyone how upset I was about that but he noticed and queried it. He was ten at the time and felt really let down.

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

      It is upsetting in a way I never suspected before I became a Mum – horrible horrible feeling – why did nobody tell me about these bits?!?!

      Oh BAGA awards doesn’t half take me back – loved my BAGA badges on my leotard. Only managed the first 3 by the time I went to secondary school and they didn’t have a gymnastics coach. Having them all AND some by age 10 is mega-impressive if you ask me πŸ™‚

  5. Kristin (Wanderlust) June 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    I think I would inquire, gently. Your kids might be wondering.

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      I’m thinking of taking my usual tack and asking them if they got a dose of the thicks this year… it’s my own patented mothering technique – it’s worked so far… πŸ˜‰

  6. Dad Who Writes June 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Eek! All these joys to come. I’d be very much inclined to ask their form teacher to explain how the system works, personally. They have large quantities of awards and things at dudelet’s primary school and he does seem to get fewer these days despite being placed in the ‘top’ group. That has mostly to do with knowing what a full stop is, mind you.

    • mrsw June 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

      I think I’m going to have a bash at an unfamiliar response and just say “Ah well see how you do next year”. This c’est la vie approach really is out of character so twill be fun to give it a bash. I know that the awards tail off in 3rd year and had already warned my daughter not to get used to it (been there done it got the t-shirt). Andrew’s taken up skateboarding – there might be a correlation there… maybe? Ah life’s easier with Shiraz. Get that boy onto commas πŸ™‚

  7. TheMadHouse June 24, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    The boys school dont do anything like this, I would ask, but them I am a big mouth!

  8. Heather - Notes From Lapland June 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    oh crikey, that’s a hard one, eh? I think I(‘d be tempted to ask the school, not the kids for fear of making a big thing about it. Like a lot of others said it could be because they feel they don’t need the extra encouragement any more? Maybe. It’ll drive you nuts until you ask them though.

  9. Barbara June 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Ask the school. Otherwise you’ll get so wound up about it that your head will explode. Well, I would anyway, maybe I shouldn’t project!

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