Two As and a B. That'll be pounds 70, mum

Anne McHardy looks at the trend among parents to reward good results with money, and checks out the going rate
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The Independent Online
Take four children. Add eight to 10 GCSEs. Feed well and wait. The result could be a bill of pounds 200 or even pounds 300 each on results day. That at least appears to be the going rate in my area of London for As or A stars this summer.

The fashion appears to be a sliding scale, pounds 30 for an A starred, pounds 25 for an A, pounds 20 for a B, pounds 15 for a C. That is an ordinary model for the average family. One friend last year paid out a full pounds 300 and declared himself happy. The more academic the school the more likely the cash incentive. By A-level some parents are offering cars.

There are other sophistications. One parent with triplets all on the GCSE treadmill this year has a tailor-made version for the really unusual family.

Dad has judged his children by their predicted grades and will reward the academically brightest one at the going rate - pounds 30 for an A starred etc - the next brightest on a similar sliding scale but starting at pounds 30 for a B, and the least academic at pounds 30 each for anything above D.

Those of us, like me, who had thought that an appropriate reward for my child, who is predicted to get As and A starreds, might be a family trip to a pizza house, are left gobsmacked. As a family we have habitually rewarded good results with a big hug and maybe a book or a tape. And we judge the results individually by the warmth or coolness of the teacher's comment.

Like the parent with triplets, I have four children, although none of mine were multiple births. The one currently awaiting results is the oldest, and therefore, like it or lump it, the trendsetter. It is bad enough for the others to have a sibling predicted at As. But to have that sibling pocket wads of dosh must make it harder to avoid trying to emulate him.

Which might make it a good thing - unless the glittering goal of academic success appears wrong for a child with non-academic strengths.

The parent of the triplets has a strong case. If you have children of differing ability going through the system at the same time you cannot, he says, avoid the comparisons. His scale is the result of a whole family discussion of the best way to reward effort.

Reared myself in the days of O-levels, when all that mattered was getting enough passes to move into sixth form, the stress of As and starred As already seems excessive.

The pressure 16-year-olds currently wilt under with course work and exams is enough to make a parent weep. To add a cash goal seems, as another suffering parent of a current GCSE student put it: "Just a bit too Thatcher."

And what of my child? How does he feel about it? He has come under a lot of pressure from teachers anxious to see him achieve his best results. He doesn't think he should get cash per grade. "But a bottle of Champagne would be good."

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