School reward systems are an effective method of managing behaviour within the classroom, as well as actively promoting school values and teaching children right from wrong. They are largely based on the theories of behaviourism and social learning theory, the belief that if teachers provide rewards for good behaviour, children will begin to perform the behaviour independently.

A recent Ofsted survey found that 1 in 20 primary school teachers reported more than ten minutes of teaching time was lost per hour due to low level disruption within the classroom. If generalised this means that each primary school has one teacher struggling to maintain an orderly classroom environment.

The reasons for this were primarily down to inconsistency in the application of the school’s behaviour policy. From this, we can see that there is a very real need for effective and consistent school reward systems within educational settings. But what exactly are they, and how can they be implemented?

What are school reward systems?

Rewards for the classroom can take many forms but work best when they are implemented as a whole-school approach. They are agreed ‘rules’ that reflect the core values of the school and promote the types of behaviour that they want to encourage. Children are aware of how well they are doing within the system and how they can get points, merits, or move onto a higher level. Negative behaviour results in either losing points, a warning and ultimately a sanction.

Why should teachers implement them?

If a school has an agreed set of standards, it is easier to set expectations of behaviour. This also makes it easier for teaching staff to control the class and reward them for good behaviour and hard work. A recent study found “evidence suggests that reward systems can create a school culture that is seen as positive, safe, predictable and consistent.”

With an attainment gap existing within the education system, it is important that all children are made to feel as though they can achieve and will be held accountable if they exhibit undesired behaviour. It also helps all pupils to feel safe within the school setting and allow for learning to take place.

How exactly do they work?

As a primary school teacher, I have personally found that rewarding positive behaviour is the most effective form of discipline. Most children want to please and achieve. If used well, behaviour systems can create a community feel within a school. Children can be rewarded for helping each other, for being polite to other members of the school and for trying something new.

How can reward systems help older children?

Older primary school children – years 5 and 6 – could give out rewards to fellow pupils for positive behaviour. This teaches children responsibility and how to work together. This is also a good age group to encourage ownership of their reward charts to help them develop independence and accountability.

At The School Planner Company, we have designed rewards charts for just this reason. We create tailor-made behaviour charts to exactly match your school’s reward systems. By using the pupil planner to record rewards, you achieve whole-school consistency. You also increase visibility, both at home and at school. Please visit our library of page ideas to see what is possible.

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Suzy Barrett

Primary School Teacher and Copywriter at Suzy Barrett Copywriting

Suzy Barrett is a qualified primary school teacher and a copywriter. She has worked in schools both nationally and internationally and now works as a supply teacher as well as running her own copywriting business.

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