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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Hewett

Reward Systems

I like rewarding my students for their hard work and determination, remember the topical rewards I created for Weather and Climate?

Towards the end of last year however I received some feedback from students that got me thinking about my approach.

clouds gifts

My Approach

In my classroom reward and praise has to be earned and my number one rule is don’t ask for merits. Usually because what they’ve asked for a merit for doesn’t deserve a merit in my eyes, yes you held the door open for a member of staff – just common courtesy; yes you put your hand up and waited to answer the questions – that’s school expectations; yes you said the correct answer after 2 other pupils got it wrong – but that’s called trying. I try not to reward the ‘small’ things. In my opinion you have to earn the reward and this requires effort and determination.

My personal approach for reward is for effort and attainment together. If pupils try hard, putting their full effort and concentration into a piece of work they will be rewarded with merits because they usually meet or exceed their working towards target for that progress point. Even if they don’t quite achieve their target, but they are focused when working then they will still be rewarded for their efforts.

What I don’t reward is a lack of effort, even if they meet their target (by fluke, substantial support or detentions which is usually the case).

The feedback had me considering this however over and over again, should I give reward for attainment even if effort is not substantial?

New Approach

None the less, I’ve taken on board what they have said and will be developing a new approach for the following academic year. I’m going to reward in two ways; firstly merits for effort, secondly merits for attainment.  I’m going to build this into the Feedback Grids I use so that is it clear which merits are awarded for what aspect.

In order to do this I’ve going to give a grade for their effort and the level achieved through one’s own efforts. I’m going to make it very explicit how merits are earned with a defined system of how many will be earned for what.


DIRT feedback grid

Rewarding Effort

Each term reports are sent home to parents with the student’s current level and grades for effort and homework. I’m going to use the same grading system in class with 1 = outstanding effort whilst 4 = unsatisfactory. I’m going to start getting students to reflect upon their own effort in lessons as well, so they can begin to understand why they are achieving the effort grades they are achieving each term.


effort reward system

Rewarding Attainment

Secondly based upon feedback I’m going to reward attainment as follows

attainment rewards

I hope this will make things clearer for pupils, so they know exactly how they are rewarded.


So here’s the new Humanities Reward System. It ties in with the school reward system but has a departmental approach to it. Fingers crossed it works, if not we’ll try something else.

reward system

What’s your approach to praise and reward?

Do you have an individual approach to rewarding students or is it the same across the school?

Love to hear of other examples.

Mrs Humanities
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