"Stop with the school awards already."

As each and every child was handed a certificate, I began feeling a little underwhelmed.

As the school year winds down there are heaps of school assemblies, presentations, concerts and ceremonies to attend and I for one am relishing every single one. This is the first time in two years I’ve been able to attend them all. I had my camera phone charged and ready to go.

First occasion: the school awards ceremony.

As I sat in the parent chairs awaiting my little cherubs, I couldn’t help the tears that threatened to spill from my eyes. I’d found out that my boys, my beautiful little boys, would both be receiving certificates. They were amazing kids and obviously, I was an amazing mother.

The certificates were handed out to each year in turn and it was after the first group of students proudly assembled before us that I clued onto the fact that EVERY child would be receiving a certificate that day, and by every child I mean…

Every. Single. One.

I still clapped and smiled and took photos but I have to admit that as each certificate was handed out I began to feel a little underwhelmed.

Handing out certificates to every child might stop anyone feeling left out, but it also stops anyone from feeling special. Because they are all getting one.

God forbid we save certificates for students who have actually excelled at something.

I was a little bit relieved when we got home and read each certificate carefully. Each child had been given a certificate in a particular category and then a specific talent had been highlighted. My eldest son was acknowledge for public speaking and my youngest son was acknowledge for his maths skills.

So, not completely meaningless then.


But still, I find I have a huge problem with this deranged habit of inclusion we've all become obsessed with when it comes to raising children. Is it such a big deal if our kids miss out on stuff from time to time? Do they really have to take turns getting Player of the Week in soccer and netball? Do we think they are stupid?

Does Pass-The-Parcel have to be so damn fair?

Why can't we teach our kids about what it's like to miss out, to be left wanting, to feel feelings of yearning and desire so they maybe try harder, aspire and achieve through sheer hard work?

I know a lot of parents agree with me and I did hear a story about another school where the new principal tried to go back to the good old days of handing out only a few certificates each year and was promptly forced to go back to certificates for everyone thanks to a group of complaining parents.

I'm just worried about what we're teaching our children. Are we really doing them a favour with ceremonies like this?

So far, after posting a bit of Facebook rant, I've received comments such as:

Anything that aims at eliminating healthy competition and overlook mediocrity can't be good. Kids have to learn that they have to make an extra effort to excel and that excellence brings rewards. The real world will not reward them for being the same as everyone else and the real achievers will still get the best jobs. I still remember fondly the awards I got for achieving above average results.


I think it adds to the growing sense of entitlement which isn't healthy. It in no way prepares kids for the real world.

I'd love to know what you think. I know I felt a bit deflated watching it all unfold. It just wasn't special enough. And I know that even if my kids didn't earn one this year, they eventually would have.

And it would have been so incredibly special because they would have actually earned it.

Do you think all children should be given awards or should we be more selective about how we hand them out?

Want more? Try:

How to survive the last two weeks of school.

Kindergarten graduations should really not be happening.