Schools are doing away with awards

School children on running track
Image: iStock

According to the ABC, some primary schools have abolished or are phasing out merit awards, presentation night awards and sports ribbons.

St. James Parish School near Ballarat, Victoria is one of them. At sports carnivals, students focus on their own performance and improve their personal best.

While sceptical at first, Co – principal, Peter Fahey told the ABC that the response has been positive. He said it was a “relief” that students didn’t have to worry about coming last or be stressed out over academic achievement.


Westmead Public School, Sydney is also on the way to abolishing ribbons and awards. Currently, awards are not handed out during assemblies. End of year achievement awards are currently awarded for students in Years Three to Six. Students in Kindergarten to Year Two are presented with a ‘celebration of learning’ event.



Approach gets mixed response

This non – traditional approach to education has had mixed reviews. Well – being advocate and author, Helen Street has been critical of the school merit system for years and has been encouraging schools to abandon it.

She argues that “bribing” children to act a certain way or achieve may work in the short trem, but will not enhance self motivation in the long run.

However, some education experts finds the no awards approach concerning. Senior lecturer of education policy at the University of Western Australia, Dr. Glenn Savage argues that, while the lack oof awards in schools may work for some students, it wasn’t realistic. He argued that some children thrive with competition and that competition was a part of life that children should not be sheltered from.


My take

When I was at school, it was very awards -oriented. Awards were given in class, at assemblies and at end – of – year presentation nights. Ribbons, trophies and medals were also frequent in sports events. Was it hard not getting one? When I was little, sure. But I survived.

I can see the merit (no pun intended), in holding off achievement awards until after Kindergarten/ Prep. I remember when I was in that year, all Kinder students were presented with a picture book.

Beyond that, I don’t see the inherenr harm in competition at school. Students will eventually be able to go with it.

All children need to be able to recieve success with humility and deal with disappointment. That’s a part of life. In fact, I don’t think there is enough emphasis on disappointment and setbacks. There wasn’t when I was in school, anyway.

I think students should be acknowledged for their achievements. However, I think it’s equally important that students are commended for dilligence and hard work, regardless of where they rank in the class.


Lastly, while they are important, I don’t think schools, either primary or high schools, should solely focus on academics and sports. Music, Drama and art offer valuable skills in creativity, team work and discipline. These skills will be valuable beyond school and should be acknowledged.


What do you think about schools abolishing sport and academic awards? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below (or the Twitter poll @GQueenMedia).