Harrogate Grammar School Positive Achievement sign now

We, the undersigned, hereby declare that the Positive Achievement system in use at Harrogate Grammar School is ruining the positive work atmosphere once enjoyed at the school.

Due to the overuse of automatic Negative Comments, a so-called system of praise and excellence has become an omnipotent system of fear, adding to exam stress and causing the school day to be filled with dread and unhappiness where a culture of achievement and success should instead stand.

The system, meant to bring uniformity and consistency to the way achievement is measured, has instead extrapolated the sheer discontinuity between the amounts teachers are willing to praise students. One teacher may give three whole credits (9 stamps) for an act that another teacher would give none. The same goes for negative comments, with many teachers overlooking minor infractions and others issuing negative comments for trivial problems such as arriving to registration mere seconds "late" (late in this case being defined as from the moment at which said hypothetical teacher started to call the register, and NOT once the second bell has rung)

We believe that the elevation of the planner to the status of a "passport to learning" (the lack of one being the passport to Isolation) is frankly absurd; consider keeping a paramedic isolated from their ambulance during an emergency call because they failed to bring a means to write down what paperwork to do over the evening.

We also believe that, in many cases, quantifying success rather than qualifying it has led to the "high achievers" in school being the ones that have the most lenient teachers, and do the most errands (as they often contribute more stamps than work as of late), rather than those that are overachieving and contributing positively to the life of the school.

We feel that the school, which is known to be one of the best in the country, deserves a much better system, and that prolonged use of the current regime will lead to its downfall. Already, many students are complaining about the negative atmosphere in the school that the so-called Positive Achievement scheme has ushered in, and how the previous scheme was much less stressful and draconian. We therefore feel drastic action is necessary to incorporate more of the students' ideas into the system, or to scrap it altogether in favour of a system more akin to the "old way" of marking success.

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Michelle MayBy:
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Harrogate Grammar School Senior Leadership Team

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