Schools behaviour tsar wants to ‘tear up gold stars’
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the UK’s leading trade association for education suppliers, and three of the UK’s largest school sticker producers called on the government to trust teachers to decide for themselves which resources to use to motivate pupils in the classroom.
The call comes after the Government’s ‘behaviour tsar’, Tom Bennett, this week (Sunday Times, 28 February, 2016) criticised the use of stickers as rewards in schools. According to the Sunday Times article, entitled ‘School behaviour chief wants to tear up gold stars’, he claims that sticker charts are, ‘inappropriate for old children and that even primary schools should be prepared to drop them’. His concern is reportedly that the approach can be time-consuming and that ‘rewarding children with stickers and gold stars could be counter-productive’.
Patrick Hayes, director of BESA, said, ‘Up until this point, the government deserves a Gold Star for giving teachers increased autonomy over how they teach in the classroom. So it’s incredibly disappointing to hear about this intervention by its “behaviour tsar”. The last thing that teachers need right now is micromanagement in the classroom to the extent that they are offered government-sanctioned advice over whether or not to use stickers to reward pupils. While this issue could perhaps seem trivial, we should all be concerned if this sticker situation is symptomatic of a broader trend of greater classroom interference. The DFE should stick to its current approach and trust teachers to teach.’
Angela Toft, director of Brainwaves Rewards Ltd, said, ‘Rewards including stickers motivate children to learn, and encourage them to feel proud of their achievements. They help give them increased confidence to continue striving for excellence. A positive reward allows the child to show off their achievement to friends and family and helps them feel proud of the good work they have produced. Stickers are very effective when used in such areas as unhealthy diets, anti-social behaviour and poor attendance. Education is their future and stickers are very much part of making that future bright!’
Steven Laws, director at the Sticker Factory added, ‘A good educational practitioner will select and use the resources they see fit in order to achieve the best results for their pupils. I can state this with the experience of 15 years in the classroom in secondary education. I respect Mr Bennett’s right to express his view relating to sticker charts, but this is only one tool in a vast array of motivation products that are used in schools. It is my concern that should his advice be misinterpreted or taken out of context that all motivation products will be targeted and seen as negative, which they are not. Stickers, charts and all other forms of motivation products are only tools and when used wisely by skilful educational professionals, will enhance motivation in the classroom. I leave you with the words of a Year 7 pupil from Suffolk, “I put all my stickers at the end of my bed when I get them so when I walk in I can see all of them and what I’ve achieved.”’
Jeremy Eves, managing director of Super Stickers, added: ‘Given the use of bonuses, performance-related pay and other extrinsic motivators in adult life, it’s somewhat hypocritical for adults to “rubbish” the value of stickers as rewards for kids. Sure, overuse of stickers, like anything, can lead to disillusionment. But they are a child currency. For children, stickers are simply a means of getting some recognition. They provide some lubrication in the grinding cog wheels of learning. Teachers have spent their own money on stickers and other incentives for many years, alongside money from the school’s budget. They only do that because they know that stickers and incentives are important in their work and relationships with their pupils.’