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Bribing Kids At School Is A Waste Of Money, Says New Research

07/10/2014 17:26 | Updated 20 May 2015

Rolled diploma and mortar board with twenty pound notes inside, studio shot

Bribing kids to work harder at school is a waste of money, according to new research.

Both schools and parents try to motivate children to try harder with cash incentives, but they'd be better off keeping their money in their pockets as it has little 'direct impact' on pupils' ability to learn and fails to actually improve their exam results.

Apparently it has become an increasing trend for schools to offer cash in exchange for effort, with many parents doing the same to encourage their chidlren to pull their fingers out.

​One popular scheme - Vivo Miles - allows pupils to accumulate points for good work and behaviour before cashing them in for rewards such as iPods, iTunes vouchers, digital watches, bike equipment and clothes.

It is used by around 500 secondary schools in the UK, with more than nine-in-10 saying it has aided academic performance and improved student motivation and behaviour.

Many parents also make similar promises, with a survey suggesting that 38 per cent of pupils were offered cash incentives by mums and dads, including laptops, holidays and even cars.

But research, by academics from Bristol University and the University of Chicago, suggested that cash would be better spent improving teaching standards, particularly for children from poor homes.

How the study, which was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation, a government-funded charity, said the use of incentives did lead to extra pupil effort in the classroom.

Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: "The use of incentives in schools is not a new idea and can appear attractive to schools and parents who are trying to motivate their children.

"The study suggests that while incentives can increase effort in the classroom, their direct impact on learning is low. "

He added: "While incentives may change surface behaviours, what really makes the difference is how students are taught.

"The best evidence currently available suggests that the most powerful driver of achievement in schools is great teaching, particularly for students from low-income families."

The research was based on a controlled trial of pupil incentives involving more than 10,000 pupils in 63 schools.

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