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A sense of pride for the children of the valleys

It was during a trip taking a group of teachers on a work placement programme that the idea for the Proud to Present scheme for primary children was conceived. This week, barely a year later, the pilot scheme was launched in six Vale of Glamorgan primary schools and Ysgol Erw's Delyn Special School as part of the National Education-Business Partnership Week.

The programme aims to improve motivation in the broadest sense and to provide a record of achievement for each of the 1,700 pupils involved. It will cater for both classroom and extra-curricular activities.

"We wanted to devise something that would motivate all children, not just the high achievers," said Roger Harris, an education business development adviser. "The children can build up their own file and try to meet the targets that teachers have tailored to themindividually."

Gerry Hillier was excited by the idea of such a scheme and is delighted it has come to fruition so quickly. In her class of 11-year-olds at Albert Primary School, Penarth, near Cardiff, some of the targets have already been set: Kylie has to try to stop putting capital letters in the middle of words; if Sophie can manage to keep quiet in class, she can negotiate a treat; and Karl must not lose his temper.

"Staff know it will be a little extra work," said Ms Hillier. "Many of the elements we do anyway so it is just a slight change in priorities. Proud to Present shouldn't dominate school life, but should meander through it and be supportive."

For the school, the main problem will be finding space to store the bulky folders for 327 primary and 52 nursery pupils, and the logistics of transferring things into them. Each child's Proud to Present folder - the name was suggested by a pupil - will include a personal profile they have written themselves as well as any achievements they are proud of.

"Every child has something they can be proud of," said Mr Harris. "It will vary from child to child. There will also be recognition if they have improved. We want everybody involved."

His fellow education business development adviser, Martin Blamey, said: "We want the scheme to raise pupils' self-esteem and their idea of self-worth. Although records of achievement are in secondary schools, we feel that's too late. That is the whole raison d'etre for our work at the primary level. Because parents can write in with praise for something done at home, it is hoped the scheme will encourage parental involvement with the school."

Local companies are being approached to support the scheme. The pilot has already been backed by British Gas Wales and Dow Corning, a local chemical company.

After the pilot, it is hoped to open the scheme to all primary schools in Cardiff and the Vale. It is hoped it will encourage good habits by making pupils want to achieve success. Points can be gained for hard work, sporting achievement and good behaviour in and out of school. Parents and teachers will be able to nominate pupils for points, building up to bronze, silver and gold awards. The sponsors will also award badges for reaching targets and individual schools are devising their own treats for pupils, often in conjunction with local companies.

Dr Eileen Shaw, senior lecturer in professional education and development at Leeds Metropolitan University, will be working closely on the pilot scheme, which she believes is to be commended. "I find this particularly interesting since I have never actually come across a project aimed at the primary sector," she said. "I feel that the initiative is a vitally important one.

"A most appealing aspect of the scheme is that it is concerned with personal skills development. My research over the past 20 years indicates that skills development and experimental approaches to learning are more readily accepted by students if they are introduced as early as possible."

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