Primary School Cancels Prizegiving

An Auckland primary school has cancelled its prize giving because it doesn’t believe in ranking students. The primary school announced this decision last month in its October newsletter, and said that there were of course a number of reasons that they had come to this decision, but ultimately they found it counterproductive to reward and rank children.

Here’s an excerpt of that newsletter so you can read everything the principal said. PLUS there was a clarification in the next newsletter too :


I was never academically smart. Nor was I sporty. I tried my best at school, and didn’t really get rewarded for anything specific. Not because I didn’t try, but because there were others who were more deserving than myself. Sometimes I struggled with it, because my friends were smarter than me and from time-to-time I did get jealous and wanted a reward; but fact of the matter was they were better than me in that particular aspect. And I was beyond proud of them for achieving that too!

It didn’t stop me from trying though, and I did get awards in the end – during my 7th form year. Typing, 2 drama awards and a service to the school award. I wasn’t expecting these at all, but was so chuffed to have my efforts recognised.

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I personally believe this is the school principals RIGHT to make this decision as he is the one running the school. Do I agree with it? No, and here’s why…

There’s always going to be someone who’s the smartest, the fastest, the best at something over someone else or even the person who tries the hardest. That’s just life.

Rewards constantly appear in life – at work via a promotion or bonus. Adult sports prize givings. Heck I reward myself when I make it through the week. Rewards make us all feel better in one way or another, and sometimes help us to push on and do our best.

Yes it’s easy to say “lets reward the kids, who compete in a sport, who legitimately come first”, because thats quantifiable. You can see that person physically came first in a sporting event, and so they should be rewarded.

But that does sound like double standards to me. Let’s reward the sporty kids, but not the academically smart ones; or the child you can see is most improved in the class.

I agree with one person’s comment that said “rewarding someone for their consistent hard work is less about ranking and more about showing them that their dedication is worthy of reward”.

A Principal from another school also said “The reality is, your school may have done away with winners and losers but life hasn’t.”

Yes of course some kids do slip through the system and don’t get recognised for their efforts. Those moments can be hard, but I do feel like sadly that is also a part of life as well.

As parents it’s our role to teach our children to deal with this. We guide them and teach them to try their best no matter what – doesn’t matter if you get a reward or not. We also need to teach our kids to be happy for those who excel and receive awards. Even if they’re upset they didn’t win – it’s our job to ensure our children support their friends or classmates.

I do think kids should be rewarded for their efforts  no matter what it is. Life is full of people achieving and receiving rewards, and we are preparing our kids for this world …

What do you guys think? Should other schools follow suit and cancel prize givings? Or do you think prize givings should stay? What do you think about this particular schools decision? 

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