A question about certificates, all may answer but would like a teacher's view too please

(107 Posts)
PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 16:11:51

Do you think they are a good or a bad thing?

I am getting more and more pissed off about certificates, in our case presented for good work once a week in assembly. Sure they are a good way of recognising good work publically, but when it's your child getting increasingly despondent that they haven't yet had one this term, when other classmates may have 2 or even 3, they don't work do they? But if you give one to half the class every week then they become devalued. Or do they? If you're in Yr1 any bit of praise and acknowledgement is brilliant, and motivating. Poor ds has to sit and clap everyone else, sometimes more than once, this term but has had nothing himself. He's a nice child, bright, works hard, not above a bit of silliness I know. But if he wasn't getting a certificate because of poor behaviour if expect to be told about that direct, not have to fathom it out from a lack of public praise.

If you were a teacher and a parent raised this with you nicely, would you think they were annoying and pushy, that the child just had to wait his turn, no matter how long it took, or that you had a fair point?

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 19:55:05

Yes, I have never had any choice about the certificates. Every Friday at Achievement Assembly.

I should say that my list is not something the children know exists. Sometimes children do get more than one, if I feel something special has been achieved.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 19:55:39

We have whole school certificate assemblies for writing and maths every week ...so far this term no one in my class has received a certificate why don't you try opting out ninah

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:02:10

Then I can see why you don't bother keeping a list mrz. It would make sense as you have the bar raised so high. Are you the only teacher that does this in your school?

I had a place in my classroom to display exceptional work. I probably only added to it two or three times a term.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:06:12

Our achievement assemblies are based on effort and all children will go into the "achievement book" for something each academic year.

Merit systems are widely debated, Shirley Clarke I think it is advocates doing away with stickers, certificates etc and focussing more on a classroom climate of positive formative assessment in action as being a realmotivater for children. I'm inclined to agree though one of the strategies I have used with success is "secret pupil" which all children have loved and felt included in.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 20:11:11

No I'm not the only teacher in my school
In my classroom I display every child's work

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:12:59

We make a distinction between 'general' Gold Certificates, and 'special' certificates for writing. 0, 1 or 2 children from the whole school get writing certificates each week. There is no expectation that every child will get one in turn, as it has to be 'exceptional writing for that child' and that doesn't appear to order! The 'absolute' standard required to get the certificate obviously varies - I have given one this year, to a statemented child with very significant learning needs who produced a piece of writing that showed absolutely astonishing progress even though it was poor relative to many others in the class IYSWIM.

There are also 'general' certificates each week (can be for anything linked to work or to the school's 'values') and at least 1 is expected from every class. There is an expectation that every teacher will find something praiseworthy about each child in their class - though interestingly the time frame varies, stretching from 'every child should have 1 in their first half term' in reception to 'every child should have at least one in each academic year' at the top of the school [we only go up to Year 4].

In practice, I tend to find that some children get more than 1 - sometimes bunched when a child goes through one of those 'non linear spurts' which all assessment / progress expectations don't believe exist - while others do just get the 1. Equally, I find that where a child might only get 1 in my class, they might get more than 1 in the next - again just an indication that progress is not linear.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 20:20:32

What is secret pupil pinkpeonies?

I feel there are many different, valid approaches. No certs at all. Certs very rarely and only for truly outstanding effort. Certs for all but always for something and not done on a rota. Certs or stickers or acknowledgement for anything and everything. The worst has to be ticking off on a list. Ds waited and waited last year because he is near the end of the class register. Don't think this years teacher does it.

BUT surely the overriding principle is that everyone has to know how the system works. Ds has no idea what more he can do to earn a certificate, he's in (I think) the second most able group for most things and has made tons of progress in reading and writing. He behaves well, has had the odd telling off but really improved on this. Tries hard, very polite. Brighter children get them, sillier children get them, less able children get them. He doesn't. Perhaps he should ask his teacher?

ElfOnTheShelf Fri 30-Nov-12 20:23:18

Wellthen if that was directed at my post (I think I have been the only one so far to mention an aged 8 child) then I think that it's a bit harsh. DD has NEVER EVER got a certificate and so I don't think she is being unreasonable to ask as it's been almost 5 years since she started school. 5 years is an age to wait and still not get picked. She is in a small school too. She claps and is delighted for her friends and never makes them think she's jealous, it's just at home she has asked me and actually only this year to be fair as she's not a whingy child.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:26:43

yes, I displayed every child's work too. I just had special board on which I put exceptional work. I mentioned it because it seemed to be similar to your certificate of achievements at your school mrz, as it was not something I gave out weekly. Unlike the achievement certificates at the Friday assembly.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:33:05

During some sessions, usually literacy I will tell the children I have selected a "secret pupil". I let my TA know who he/she is too and that child's name is written on a small "secret pupil" certificate. At the end of the session I tell the class who it was and give them feedback on what they did that really impressed me and that they should be proud of. It might be something they have previously struggled with that they have mastered, an idea they contributed or perhaps they have written a beautifully crafted sentence. The beauty of it is that each child gets a different comment on their certificate, they take them home to show parents and you can see their confidence and self esteem grow visibly. Its a system they all understand.

I personally don't use stickers, I prefer to give immediate feedback which is meaningful and encourage a growth type mindset in my classroom. They need to love learning for learning's sake and understand how to be successful as learners, once you have established this and it is embedded children don't seek out stickers or hovver around for one, its quiye a revealation (ex sticker giver!)

I too ensure that all children's work is displayed and appraised and encourage the children to be critical friends to each other as well as just relying on my feedback.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:34:38

Piggery, just to clarify - I do keep a record of who has had certificates - but I certainly don't 'go down the list alphabetically'. I give it to the children who have deserved it each week, BUT the list is there so that at the end of the year I can check that no child has ben totally overlooked.

PiggeryJokery Fri 30-Nov-12 20:46:57

I like your way of doing things pinkpeonies, instant feedback and directed, descriptive praise is sort of approach I think ds would like.

elf have you ever asked the school / teachers why your dd has never had a certificate?

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:48:36

giving certificates does not preclude instant feedback and descriptive praise - I would imagine most teachers do this.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 20:49:51

Sorry I'm sure I'm missing something but how is the secret pupil certificate different from "stickers" pinkpeonies?

I really am mean as I don't give stickers either

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:53:28

I'd agree Humphrey and as a school we do still do certificates in achievement assembly but removing stickers and sticker charts have altered our learning/classroom climate in a good way.

Indeed, all CTs should be making formative assessment an integral part of their teaching, yet it is something Ofsted pick up regularly as not happening enough, or in a way that is not truly meaningful.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:58:33

Never done stickers in class, or sticker charts. It's instant, verbal feedback all day every day, but with the additional institutional ritual of celebration assembly certificates.

I'd go for just the former, tbh, but I do think that recognisiotion within the whole school comminuty is a good thing too.

pinkpeonies Fri 30-Nov-12 20:59:47

I find it gives the chance for real, precision feedback. I find that children are very excited by it, particularly the big reveal! I find it has some impact on general classroom behaviour on occasions (particularly in upper KS2).

I guess the premise is not different to that of giving stickers but for some reason it works better and enables me to raise teaching points and successful learning strategies in a fun pacey way

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 21:00:24

I think that makes sense pinkpeonies. I would be happy in a school that did not do stickers.

My DS's school has a behavior board, if you are naughty you have to write your name on the red card. But that is a whole other thread grin

Meglet Fri 30-Nov-12 21:05:19

DS was the only child to not get a class certificate or the 'treat box' in Year R, small school. Some of his friends managed to get 2 class certificates.

He's still managed to get nothing and in year 1 now. His work is all above average, maths is well above average, never had a day off sick, never late to school, hands homework in early, he's very confident and not at all shy, no major behavioural problems....yet he still goes under the radar confused.

I don't want to be the crazy parent talking to his teacher about it (I will soon though) but I am intrigued as to what all the other children are doing so well and he is not doing <<sigh>>.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 30-Nov-12 21:08:45

see, this is why I keep a list. If you are going to do this every week, you have to make sure some children don't get left out.

I would mention it Meglet.

Houseworkprocrastinator Fri 30-Nov-12 21:19:24

In my experience the stickers are a waste of time, our school has a playgroup where they start at 2 and then the nursery and infants all part of the same school so my children started getting stickers for things like getting out of nappies, putting their coat/shoes on and sitting at the snack table all the way up to reading writing and maths.
they were excited at age 2 and proud of their stickers (very upset if they fell off and lost them) but they started to loose their value around half way through nursery and really mean nothing to my daughter in year 1. They are given way too freely.

i find what motivates mine is pride in their own achievement and meeting their targets. Also making me proud. I would say good teacher/parent communication can help allot. By letting parents know that children have done something well (without announcing this to the rest of the class or giving certificates) can help because then the child can get praise at home as well.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 30-Nov-12 21:25:52

Dd is in year 6. She had had 1 merit certificate in her school career (in reception class)

Ds is in Year 4. He has had two and works nowhere near as hard as dd

Many if the disruptive children have had multiple certificates

Dd has given up and at parents evening this year the level if effort she has put in has dropped considerably. She says she knows she us never going to he one if the favourites.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:29:13

Every class in our school has to give out a certificate each week as part of celebration assembly.

I would struggle to not find something positive to celebrate about children in my class. In each week there is at least one, but more often several, who would deserve being praised in this way. Finding a child to give a certificate to isn't hard for us at school, choosing just one can be. But yes - every class I have ever worked in has ensured every child always has a certificate at least once - though any record of this is completely hidden from children.

Every child is good at doing something, even if you have to look a bit harder for some.

Hulababy Fri 30-Nov-12 21:31:13

Oh - we give instant praise and feedback pretty much all day every day anyway. That is just a normal part of teaching anyway surely?

We do give out stickers too. Children like them in my experience. So can see no reason not to.

mrz Fri 30-Nov-12 21:34:36

I find what motivates mine is pride in their own achievement and meeting their targets. Also making me proud.

I find that's a huge incentive for our pupils too but I really don't get the "every child must have a certificate" concept ...

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