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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 12:28 GMT
Should children be paid to go to school?

Pupils in a school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne are being offered 80 per term as a reward for attending lessons.

In an attempt to reduce truancy and absenteeism, Firfield Community School has been signing over the money to pupils who attend more than 90% of lessons. And it seems that the scheme is working.

Should pupils be paid to go to school? Is it setting a bad example to have to pay children to behave well? And should lessons be interesting enough not to need bribes for pupils to attend? Tell us what you think.


Your reaction

What an absolute rubbish idea! Having read most of the comments already - I agree with most of them in saying that paying kids to attend school is the biggest of money yet. When kids get to the age of 13 or 14 they are going to decide for themselves how much effort they will put into learning. I'm sure kids will think that 80 will be handy but how does that increase their brain power or maturity and independence??? Use the money for something more worthwhile!
Krista Thomas, Canada (in UK)



Start paying us and it wouldn't make it so bad, and I probably would like to learn.

Oli Sallis, England
I'm in school right this minute, but would rather be out making money. Start paying us and it wouldn't make it so bad, and I probably would like to learn and go to school.
Oli Sallis, England

I do not believe that children who are in compulsory schooling should get paid to attend school, however, those who stay on for higher education aged 16 -18 should get paid. This move would help to solve a couple of problems including to discourage students skipping lessons, but also most teenagers that age go to work to raise money for themselves... and often let their school work suffer if it means more money in their pocket...if they were paid to go to school they would not feel they have to go to work as much and would not let their work suffer willingly.
Laura, England

This is a good idea as it will give the kids more incentive to come to school. I also think this will help the amount of children who don't got to school to drop and the kids will look forward to school more.
Simon Wolton, England

I feel appalled that children in this day and age have to be offered money to go to school, if children are not willing to get an education to succeed in life is it really our problem. Children need to be given the opportunity to get ahead in life, but isn't that what school is for.
Dr. Sommes, England



This idea MUST come from someone with a reality by-pass.

Ange Hodgson, UK
This idea MUST come from someone with a reality by-pass. What kind of message is this supposed to send to children? Spend 30 hours per week fulfilling your parents (or legal guardians) legal obligations and we'll pay you? Fine, so long as that pay is taxed, subject to National Insurance and docked if you don't turn up. Why not go a stage further and pay a bonus if you manage to go a whole week without annoying or assaulting your teachers or fellow students or if you get good grades in tests or exams? I fail to see how forcing children into schools does them, other students or teachers any good.
Ange Hodgson, UK

I don't think we should be paid to attend school. The teachers should get more money because they put up with a lot of junk us kids dish out. Teachers deserve the raise.
Becca, USA

I think the whole idea of paying kids to go to school has got to be the worst idea the government has ever had! The money can be better spent elsewhere, like reinstating student grants, or to the health service. If this money has to go into schools, pay teachers more, they deserve it.
Stuart, UK

I think it would encourage more people to go to school in stead of taking the day off
Hannah, England

If the schools have money to throw around, they should pay their teachers more. Paying children to attend school is absurd.
Sarah, USA

Can I have my back pay with interest please?
Simon Bee, Brazil via UK

As a mature student struggling financially but desperate to learn, I find the idea of paying a child to go to school abhorrent. The government is happy to take away the student funding for those of us willing to learn and offers these ridiculous schemes as an incentive to children who may attend, but will not necessarily learn or achieve. The policies for education need attention, but the social problems relating to these children must be addressed before payment becomes an option. Some children who do not attend school, do so not out of choice but out of necessity Some of these children are caring for disabled relatives or working illegally to support their families
Lesley Ryder, England

What a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in, children being paid to go to school. It's a joke, it's not a job it's a means of gaining respect through knowledge and understanding and gaining through it some appreciation of morality and the world as a whole. Instead of paying them why not make education compulsory until the age of 18, that would make more sense. What a pathetic society we live in today.
TD, UK

Giving children who play truant cash to attend school is no way to start teaching them about moral values.
Paul Jonas, UK

This should defiantly be the case. Adults get paid to go to work and they have the choice of which line of work to go into - we don't. We have to go to school and that's it - we should be rewarded instead of getting a few certificates once in a while.
Adam Wilkes, UK



It's a shame that some children don't appreciate how lucky and privileged they are in this country.

Louise Hall, UK
I think that it's devastating that children should have to be bribed into getting an education that many children in less well off countries would give a lot for. As a college student I appreciate the difficulties of getting an education and I am so grateful that I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity.
Some of my friends from other countries would do anything to be able to afford to go to college, but sadly just haven't got the resources. Local authorities must have money to burn - surely it would be more feasible and moral to divert some of these funds into giving people who really appreciate having an education the chance to gain it. It's a shame that some children don't appreciate how lucky and privileged they are in this country to be entitled to a free and half decent education.
Louise Hall, UK

Utter utter nonsense. I can well remember the dark days of school, and the worst of it was when the troublemakers actually decided to attend lessons. Those of us with brains were unable to learn anything because of the idiots. If kids bunk off it should be 'three strikes and you're out', and be sent to an institution that knows how to deal with morons.
Mark Laurence Scott, Brit in USA

We should be paying the teachers extra for making their lessons more interesting and accessible instead of rewarding pupils who may be disruptive whilst in class. Again the emphasis seems to be on quantity not quality. Some children will never learn and having them at school may disrupt those who want to learn. So those teachers with ability to teach these ones need to be paid for the level of effort they put in.
Mark Lisle, Germany (formerly UK)



Take the Child Benefit they are paid anyway and give it to the family only if a child is attending school.

Erica, UK
I was about to give the same gut reaction as the majority here and scream NO! But then, each and every child in this country is entitled to Child Benefit - which is supposedly for their welfare. But how many of them actually see it and how many of the "less well off" families spend this money on the children whilst others may spend it on beer and cigarettes - I say, take the Child Benefit they are paid anyway and give it to the family only if a child is attending school and, more importantly, not making any adverse contributions to the atmosphere of the school community or disrupting lessons. Any child who doesn't meet the criteria laid down would then lose a given amount/percentage for each offence. A good disciplinary lesson for later life....
Erica, UK

Even though I am a 14 year old student, I still think that the idea of paying students to attend school is absolutely ridiculous. It is up to the students whether they want to have a successful career and life. And if it is not what they want, they can spend the rest of their lives cleaning toilets and sweeping the streets as successful business men and women of the world walk past them.
It will be their problem when they ask themselves why they never attended school when they were younger. It should not be problem of the school. Schools should NOT pay students to attend school.
Zanya, Singapore

Getting paid is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it's unfair for all those whose parents get over 30,000 a year.
Bill Young, Germany



A better scheme would be to hold the cash, give statements with each school report so that the pupils themselves can see how their fund is building.

Hazel, UK
It depends on how distribute the cash reward - a pay as you progress scheme would tempt the less disciplined (i.e., the majority) to fritter away the money on goods not considered to be of educational merit. A better scheme would be to hold the cash, give statements with each school report so that the pupils themselves can see how their fund is building, and put that lump sum towards further education.
If the person is not academically minded, the fund could be continued by their employer on reports of being a good employee so that by the time they are 21/22 a large lump sum could be available to the former student. This could be very useful as a deposit for a mortgage!
Hazel, UK

Sometimes I become disgusted with the state of my nation, and declare that I ought to just move to England, where people seem to have some sense. Then sometimes I'll read about something like this. America ain't so bad I guess.
Shawn Moore, USA

I think that children should be paid to go to school as this will encourage and push ahead their mental flow! I definitely agree that we should be paid to go to school!
Melanie, England

Louise Perrett says "This scheme is giving these children back their self respect" - but how? By giving them something for nothing? What does that teach them?
Mike, UK



It is surely primarily the responsibility of the parents to ensure that kids understand why they are at school.

Han de Min, Netherlands (originally)
No. Bribing is bad in general and should be eradicated. So why start implementing this to keep children at schools??
It is surely primarily the responsibility of the parents to ensure that kids understand why they are at school. We (the parents) accept this ridiculous idea, we accept our total failure. Is that why we wanted them in the first place???
Han de Min, Netherlands (originally)

Some children in the UK have forgotten that education is a privilege and instead see it as a chore. However, if paying them a small amount now will save the country a large amount later in unemployment benefit or worse, jail costs, then so be it.
GB, Scotland

This is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. I never got paid for going to school. You either WANT to learn or you DON'T want to learn. You either care or you don't. For those who really don't, slipping cash into their hands is only going to allow them easier access to cigarettes and other things they don't need, and it will do NOTHING to improve their overall learning experience!! Paying kids to attend school...for crying out loud ! How idiotic. Bring back the cane and USE IT.
Kira, US

Is this how low we have to go to get kids into school. We are a nation of well educated people (supposedly) and this is the best idea we can come up with!! We should be looking at the reasons why these kids don't attend school and focus on ways to help them from there.
Joanne, Netherlands (formerly Britain)

Give kids money to go to school, so they can buy drugs? So they can start bribing teachers?
Matthew Ward, UK

It's a sad day when pupils have to be paid to go to school. A serious lack of respect for teaching staff and school in general is in a large part a problem of modern society. All good and well that both parents work or are generally very busy. But then don't have children if you really don't have the time to raise them properly and teach them some of life's values and respect. The new busy-rush-rush society is creating a new generation of delinquents.
Fred, Belgium

Money is the root of all of society's problems. Paying children to attend school emphasises our obsession with money. Steps should be made towards a people dependant on each other rather than paper.
Kevin, USA

School is a good place to be, the children can make friends and also get an education, for later on in life. The children should appreciate school, and should definately not get money for attending school.
Claire, United Kingdom



What does it matter how you keep children in school? As long as at the end of it, they come out with relevant qualifications, plus vital work experience.

Louise Perrett, Wales
This is the first step to stop the vicious cycle in which the children of today are increasingly finding themselves. Many of the parents of these children have little or no education, many do not work and live off the pittance the government pay them in benefits. This scheme is giving these children back their self respect.
Louise Perrett, Wales

Pupils should see it as a gift that they can go to school, because it's important for their future. If they "skive", they will pay for it themselves. It's also not good because they would just think about the money during their lessons and how they can spend it.
Petra & Claudia, Austria

They'll be giving them cigarettes and drugs next.
John, UK

It's a sin that some students get a good education while others don't. Your schooling will effect your whole life but from the time a child is born they get a different treatment based on their parent's economic standing. I wanted to go to a good Catholic high school but I could not. The best private schools are so good because they MAKE the students work hard. Each student wants to have fun but the better the school, the more homework the student is required to do. Why I can't send my children to attend alongside the children of mayors, governors, presidents? Yes I can't afford to send them there! But why should the fact that I make less money stop my children from going to boarding schools?
Zbigniew, Poland

It's a silly idea to pay children for their own education. If this became reality there would be a lot of students who don't go to school to learn. They would just sit around, doing nothing and get paid for it.
Hias, Austria

Top idea - maybe adults could get paid for obeying the law too. I would love to get 80 every time I obeyed the speed limit - or went for a few weeks without a joint. Maybe newspaper editors could be rewarded for refraining from insider trading too. I'm all for it.
Paul, UK

It's good to see institutions trying imaginative solutions. It will be interesting to see whether or not it has the desired effect. When I was at school there were prizes for good attendance, effort and achievement. The real difference seems to be that 80 is more likely to appeal to most school children than the dry books or pathetic plastic trophies we were offered. Complaints that this is a waste of tax-payers money overlook the potential savings if it achieves a better educated workforce. They also ignore the fact that government money isn't used for the scheme. From the story I gathered the funding came from private industry. Perhaps being paid to read the articles behind the Talking Point would lead to a better quality of debate.
Helen, USA

Instead of paying the pupils the money should be spent on school trips and projects or materials for the school.
Kati & Maria, Austria

Why not pay pupils - they are working like everyone else. Give them a time keeping bonus as well. If the pupils are not up to the job give them the sack!
N Smith, England



How about charging, just like for degrees, then we can properly return to Dickensian values.

Chris Hann, USA
In the end stupidity is its own reward, those too stupid to bother attending will find themselves with no job.
It's curious that we decided that a degree should be "at cost" and now we start paying kids to go to school. How about charging, just like for degrees, then we can properly return to Dickensian values. Let's just enforce the laws that are already on the books.
Chris Hann, USA

13 years at school, and 7 years at University... can I claim back-pay?
Simon, USA

Has this country finally gone mad? What idiot came up with the idea of wasting taxpayers money to pay kids to go to school? Is it not the parents responsibility to bring up their own kids? Why should the state do it? The taxpayer already pays for the education system so why should we pay twice? I say fine the parents and if necessary put the offending kids in an Army Cadet summer camp to learn some ethics and discipline.
Bill, UK

Once upon a time, virtue was its own reward, now it is being punished. What next? Paying politicians to be honest?
Anthony O'Sullivan, UK



The scheme must be available to all students, otherwise it rewards children for being problem cases.

Michael T Farnworth, UK
Failure to attend school attracts a life sentence. Those that don't bother are largely left with severe consequences for their earlier foolish actions. Those of us who do make the effort are then left to pay substantially more than 80 pounds per term for their folly. It doesn't feel right to pay for what should be a normal compulsary activity, but perhaps this scheme should be viewed as an investment in tax reduction. However the scheme must be available to all students, otherwise it rewards children for being problem cases.
Michael T Farnworth, UK

Absolutely not. The world owes nobody a living. Paying these 'truants' may improve their attendance record, but who is to say it will improve their learning record? The battle of minds is yet to be won, this 'battle' being changing the attitudes of such delinquents towards a more positive outlook on education and learning and its long-term benefits. Simply throwing more money at 'skiving' will solve nothing.
Chris Heaney, England

I am 12 and I think that although maybe this is not the best way, it is certainly something that will work. And remember-old habits die hard.
Mel, Northern Ireland

Wow. Money to learn? Sitting from here it seems like there are desperate times ahead for whichever country that chooses to implement schemes like these. An ad hoc controversial scheme to bandage the real problems of society is hardly the solution. Ever wondered where the kid who needs to be paid to attends classes actually spends it? I somehow doubt it lands up in a trust.
Razal, Pakistan



British kids shouldn't forget that most of this planet's population still can't read or write.

Andrej, Russia
Education is a service, an equal opportunity provided to all citizens by the public, and the public is paying enough by just setting up and maintaining the system. British kids shouldn't forget that most of this planet's population still can't read or write.
Andrej, Russia

What a great idea. Children will be encouraged to attend school.
Ollie, UK

Perhaps while the students are in school they can recite the proverb "you can lead a donkey to the water but you cannot make him drink". A reward for doing well in school is understandable, but justification for being there physically and not mentally will achieve nothing.
Sundeepan Sharma, USA



Would have made me go to school more often.

Bob Mendoza, UK
Excellent idea. Would have made me go to school more often.
Bob Mendoza, UK

Let's see... Pay children a monthly wage to attend school. Inflation eats into their earnings. They get restless and demand higher wages. They form a union, go on strike, and get scheduled wage hikes, flex time, more paid vacations, less homework assignment quotas, fewer classes, shorter work weeks, and a more favourable grading system. Then they get restless and prepare for the next strike and set of demands. What a great way to teach them to be selfish!
Will Coats, USA

Ok I am 15, are they going to come down to the south and do the same for me??? NO WAY! It is not fair, surely the money should be given to everyone or no-one at all. There are better ways to spend money that would benefit everyone.
Max, England



They shall use the money for cigarettes, and think up another way to 'skive'

Sandy, Hong Kong
This is a ridiculous way of educating children, as we are teaching them to take bribes from the beginning of their career. There are better ways of encouraging them such as providing them with more facilities or giving them more time to spend in the activities they like.
Shaila, UK

Parents should pay the price if their children don't turn up. This is ridiculous. Kids won't go in to lessons to learn, they will go in and chat about what they will spend the cash on. Do we have no morals anymore?
Luke Richards, UK

The benefit of attending school should be the education that you will receive. Instead of a school rewarding children for attendance, parents should be punishing their children for non-attendance.
Alex, UK

I am a 13-year-old student at school, and believe me I know how students are like. They shall use the money for cigarettes, and think up another way to 'skive'. They will then talk about how the school is a fool, so I ask, is there any use-even if it may improve performance by 10% it will not be effective in the long run
Sandy, HK

Here's a better idea to break the "dumb is cool" image. Instead of paying pupils, link their driving age to pass rates in GCSE's. So, for example.

5 GCSE can drive a car at 16

4 GCSE can drive a car at 17

3 GCSE can drive a car at 18

2 GCSE can drive a car at 19

1 GCSE can drive a car at 20

0 GCSE can drive a car at 21

They will look really cool walking when they're 21
Keith Dale, Germany



Education is seen as a PRIVILEGE in other countries where people do not live such self-indulgent lives.

Chris Cormier, Canada
Better idea. Charge them a nominal 2.50 per week, and then pay them at the end of the year for every full week they attended. Calculated on the basis of 35 weeks, they would then get 87.50 to spend once the summer holidays start, thus teaching them the benefits of rewards and savings in one stroke and without them realising they're being educated!
Alex Banks, Wales

School days, school days,/ dear old golden rule days/ Readin' and writin' and 'rithmatic/ Taught to the rule of a HICKORY stick...
Philip Grebner, USA

Why should some children receive money for something the vast majority of children do without any money? LEAs would be better served looking at why children are so unmotivated and looking at how they can change the culture of schools rather than instilling in children a notion that education is something they should only do if they get enough money. The rewards of a good education outweigh monetary rewards.
Jason Thomas Williams, UK

Are you SERIOUS?! Is this some kind of joke? Education is seen as a PRIVILEGE in other countries where people do not live such self-indulgent lives. If Saint Thatcher and pals have really reduced the UK to this, where every bond of love and respect, even from children, is reduced to a dollar figure, oh well, empires come and empires go eh?
Chris Cormier, Canada



Schools should try to find out why a pupil is bunking off school and try to deal with it from that angle.

Steve Thompson, England
No they shouldn't. This will make it difficult to teach children morals. It also clouds the issue of what is right and wrong. Also the children will probably try to extend this to the home. So that when ever they don't want to do something, then they'll expect payment from their parents first.
Schools should try to find out why a pupil is bunking off school and try to deal with it from that angle.
Bill Crawley, England

You can pay kids to make them go to school, but you can't make them learn.
Steve Thompson, England

How about a little less carrot, paid for by taxpayers like me and a little more stick. Here's two great ideas:
1. If after repeated warnings the parents of the truant refuse to co-operate, withhold part of the benefits they receive until the kid starts to go to school.
2. If the parents are seen to be doing all they can, or if the parents don't rely on benefit, link any future benefit payments to the individuals attendance at school. If the claimant did not bother with school and ends up a millionaire then good luck to him. If as is more likely he ends up flat on his face and unemployable then he has himself to blame and should be treated as voluntarily unemployed.
You generally find that hitting someone in the pocket either now or later is much more effective than paying them not to break the law.
Riccardo, United Kingdom



I can't help thinking of the kids I met out in Syria, who would give their right arm to be able to go to places like Firfields.

Richard, UK
On a pragmatic basis, if spending this money keeps kids off the street, out of trouble and results in more of them ultimately getting jobs and staying off the dole and out of jail it is money well spent.
However, I can't help thinking of the kids I met out in Syria, who didn't have access to the quality of teaching we do here and would give their right arm to be able to go to places like Firfields.
Simple solution - any kid who misses school to the point of needing to be paid just to turn up gets deported to Syria to work on the streets for the duration of their school life, their school place gets offered to one of the truly deprived kids who would kill for a decent education.
Richard, UK

What an outrage! While I'm sure some will say it is for the future of the country, I say rubbish. Those that don't go will never get far in life, and it will be their own fault. Let it be explained why school is important, and if they feel they don't want to go let them ruin their lives, it can only benefit those who stay in the system. Money is wasted on moronic ideas each day, but I hope the money for this one is coming directly out of the pocket of whoever thought the idea up, and not out of the education department's budget.
Andy Hughes, England

Attendance does not equal education. The children may turn up but will they listen in class and will they do their homework? They should be told in no uncertain terms what their futures will be if they bunk school now.
Wendy, UK



If it gets them in to school and learning then the more chance they will have.

Jon, UK
Of course pupils should not be paid to go to school and attend lesson in an ideal world, however this is not an ideal world. The children at this school come from an area of low employment and little hope. 80 to these children is a substantial amount and if it gets them in to school and learning then the more chance they will have. I would also like to point out this scheme is funded by local companies and not the Tax payer.
Jon, UK

This is a step in the wrong direction. Anyone playing truant is bound to turn up if they get paid, will they pay attention though? Or would that be another additional cash bonus? You could also start paying the bullies for not hitting people... where will that kind of thinking lead?
In 2,005 will I receive a social behaviour benefit statement from the government saying - "Well done Mr. Cook, we are sending you 65 for not mugging anyone this week and another 30 for being a non-smoker. We have, unfortunately had to deduct 15 for that cold you spread round the office last week."
Christian, UK

The very idea of interesting school lessons is enough to make me roll around the floor in fits of laughter. I think the offer of payment is a great incentive to help children sit through the dry, mind-numbing dullness of the school day. Bring it on.
Trevor Blayney, N. Ireland



They should be paid based upon performance rather than mere attendance.

C M Sanyk, USA
My initial reaction to this is what a great idea. Students should be compensated for their time. However, I think they should be paid based upon performance rather than mere attendance.
On the other hand, it's somewhat disturbing to see so many educational things being turned into something that more and more resembles business. Commerce is not the only viable way of life, although the success of commerce has made it increasingly difficult to live differently. Economic aspects of life should not come to dominate over everything that we do, what we think, or who we are. But as long as alternatives to the economic worldview are presented, I don't see a problem with students being paid for their work. Where do I sign up?
C M Sanyk, USA

Here we have another classic socialist ploy, reward those for doing badly. IF children who truant are to be paid to go to school what incentive does that give other students. I am sick to death of paying taxes and having public monies abused, this is not correct, if you are to pay children to go to school then pay those who try the hardest (not necessarily the cleverest).
I repeat do not award children money for disobedience. This is ludicrous and another large slip on the slope to a socialist third world England.
P.S. If Mr and Mrs Blair wish to pay children form their own vast cash resources well let them, that way they might stop populating the world themselves
Jen, UK



These kids must think the government has gone soft in the head.

Mark, UK
You can bribe a kid to attend school, but you cant make him learn if he does not want to. And the point I am trying to make is that, at my school all the kids that bunked off, did nothing anyway at the times that they attended school, apart from disrupting the other kids. So bribing them to stay is a total waste of public money. These kids must think the government has gone soft in the head.
Mark, UK



Use the money to make the school day more stimulating for the kids: then perhaps they will want to learn.

Tony White, United Kingdom
240 per year for attending 9 out of 10 lessons? That still leaves an afternoon a week for 'bunking off' and when present the truants will be either not paying attention, or worse, disrupting the class for the ones who WANT to attend.
Assuming a school offering this sort of handout has 500 pupils, that's 120,000 per year. I can think of far better things to spend a school's money on. What a ridiculous idea. Use the money to make the school day more stimulating for the kids: then perhaps they will want to learn.
Tony White, United Kingdom

I am at the moment competing with 100's of other students in order to get a grant to go to Drama school, meanwhile, universities up and down the country have to charge tuition fees - this is optional education that we choose to do, meaning that we cannot start earning a wage for another 3 years - meanwhile, the government is PAYING 15 and 16 year olds to go to compulsory lessons! How unfair is this, when some of us cannot even afford a decent education.
Timothy Groves, UK



I might have turned up a bit more if there was money in it.

Stuart, UK
Why not give the kids an incentive to go to school. I might have turned up a bit more if there was money in it. Seriously though, whilst a good idea it is only a part of the solution. Ok, so they've got the kids into school but then they have to be taught. You can't force knowledge onto people, there has to be some desire to learn from the pupils. Will there be financial incentives to do that too? The Government will start having to pay overtime for after school activities?!
Stuart, UK

Mostly, the children who play truant will take advantage of the bribe, rather than respond to it. They will deliberately become offenders in order to qualify for the reward. The solution is about time, effort and money and the bribe idea is trying to short-cut all of those. There should be more staff to track less children and administer a more effective punishment. If that doesn't work, the parents should be fined.
Dave Williams, United Kingdom

I thought going to school was obligatory, not some piece meal job. Do they get a minimum wage?
Colin, Netherlands

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See also:

13 Mar 00 | Education
More pupils paid to attend school
13 Dec 99 | Education
Truants' parents face jail penalty


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