Last July we gave a Graduation Badge to each of our preschool students who were moving up to school in the September as a nice little thing to do, we had such a lovely response from parents that over the summer decided that we would trial the rewards in our school through the autumn term.

Each year we do an annual show at the local theatre and of course exams, but these events feel like a lifetime apart in the context of the ages of our student. We have 350 pupils ranging from 18 months to 18 years (and then the adults), we’ve been a traditional exam based school for over 15 years but felt that en route to a grade or medal test there was so much learnt by a student and that these little steps deserved rewarding.

A simple email round to the parents in the back to school newsletter introduced the concept. We let them know that being a part of the scheme was entirely optional and would not replace anything we already do, but that we believed in it’s ethos of praise, encouragement and something tangible to put on the wall. The opt in was simple; if you choose to receive a badge & certificate you’ll get an email notifying you of success a few weeks before the end of term, you bring the payment into class to hand to the teacher (or BACs it over) and then at the end of our Watching Week sessions (the final class of each full term – December, March and July) all of the awards will be given out. Absolutely everyone opted in and after a couple of weeks we were set and ready to go.

The assessments are rolling, teachers have a folder with the Progress Record Cards for their students in them which I made up from the ones I’d printed off from the IDR website (this year we’ve bought  the premium PRCs as they’re quite affordable and great quality). The children stay motivated in those terms where we’re not immediately rehearsing for the show or practicing ahead of the exams and the teachers have enjoyed the focus reminding about the badges gives.

We add £1.50 per badge & certificate, that rounds it up to £5 which is a cost parents have been more than happy to pay three times this year, the confidence we’ve seen in our students and how brimming with pride they are when clutching their rewards has been fantastic. We have drummed up just over £1000 of extra revenue for our school which we put towards the costumes for our show. It’s been great and we’re excited to do it all again next year. We’re proud to say that IDR is a permanent feature of our school and will be as long as we’re around!

We now have over 500 children taking classes weekly and have recently moved to our own studios at Warmlake Dance Studios in Kent .

Flair School of Dance, Maidstone (Kent)

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