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Cars, holidays and hard cash: Two thirds of parents bribe kids for good exam results


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As summer trundles on, almost without realising the dreaded results days for both A-level and GCSE students are imminently upon us. Students will now be restlessly counting down the hours with a sense of trepidation and the familiar buzz of nervous excitement following anxious months of waiting.

However, for many the warm glow of achievement is not what they are most excited for, but rather staggering cash prizes offered by beleaguered parents, in their last ditch attempts to encourage unmotivated adolescents.

As millions of British teenagers wait with baited breath and clammy palms for results, research from has revealed that a startling 67% of parents have resorted to cash bribes to incentivise their children to succeed in exams this year.

The survey questioned 1,000 parents about their views and experience of using incentives to encourage apathetic teens.  It emerged that almost a quarter (22%) of parents have promised their offspring a gift in a bid to motivate them to succeed, whilst one in ten maintains that without an enticing cash incentive, their children wouldn’t have tried as hard.

Over a third motivate their children by unabashedly waving the promise of cold-hard cash in front of them. The survey reveals that for intelligent students whose results sheets are littered with A*s, parents shell out a sizeable sum of £35.37 per subject. In addition, C grades averagely land students with the handsome figure of £17.34.

Other lavish gifts promised in exchange for grades are cars. 7% of dads have bought their child a new car as a reward for their efforts and 15% draw their children in with the promise of a holiday. Curiously, mums are more inclined to sweeten the deal with 70% heaping gifts upon their child as praise for hard work.

However, many are critical of lining a teen’s hand with silver in exchange for effort in school, notably psychology experts who emphasise that despite short term gains, children will then only repeat their efforts when rewards are maintained.

Daniel Pink, an American author who examined motivation in his bestseller Drive, concluded that short-term incentives to elicit good behavioural patterns are unreliable and can cause long term damage.

Flying in the face of advice, Oldbury Academy, a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, plans on bestowing cash prizes on students for each C they achieve at GCSE level, if they were initially predicted D grades.  The scheme could potentially cost the school around £10,000.

Scouring The Student Room, it is easy to find evidence of students driven by monetary motivations; one student claimed to have received £50 for each and another was promised £3,000 if she received a string of A*s.

Perhaps instead of re-educating children, we need to retrain adults to use more sustainable, long-term methods to encourage achievement? 

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