Totally mad, but it made a difference

31st October 1997 at 00:00
We have a vision for Govan High, which is that we can create a school where everyone achieves his or her potential. So we are constantly looking for innovative ways to make it come to pass.

It was in this context that I was approached by Bobby Coates, our principal teacher of technical education, with the proposal that we borrow an idea from industry and have a "Make a Difference" campaign. Put simply, any child who made a difference in the school by his or her actions or words would be given a reward. It would not be financial, but would be tangible.

After launching the idea at a staff meeting, we started displaying posters in the school with messages such as "Go MAD - Make a Difference". We wanted to make pupils curious about what was going on.

The campaign was very easy to run. Members of staff nominated pupils by passing their names to Bobby Coates, who kept a tally of nominations. Every pupil who was nominated was given a certificate which entitled them to free entry to an end-of-term disco. The individual with most nominations was presented with a shield and a family cinema outing, courtesy of our sponsors, MGM Cinemas at Springfield Quay.

"Make a Difference" ran during the external examinations period in May and so applied only to the junior school. It was not allowed to distract pupils from their normal class work.

Nominations were received for all kinds of things - helping the janitors and canteen staff, tidying up, assisting with visits by primary pupils and a parents evening, helping a sick classmate, being kind and pleasant.

In the end, 64 per cent of pupils in S1-S3 went MAD at least once - 92 per cent in S1. Fifty-one per cent had multiple nominations with several having five or more - the winner of the shield and cinema trip was a first-year pupil with 15 nominations.

Iain White is headteacher at Govan High School, Glasgow

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