Money latest: The parents paying their kids hundreds of pounds for good grades - and what psychologists think (2024)

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  • Should you offer kids cash rewards for good grades? The psychologist's view
  • Amex hikes, inflation and child-free pubs: What our readers said this week
  • Money news of week: Inflation falls, wages grow and fuel warning for drivers
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Should you offer kids cash rewards for good grades? The psychologist's view

By Brad Young, Money team

As exam season approaches, some parents are putting hundreds of pounds aside to reward their children if they achieve certain grades.

While some parents lambasted the idea as "absolute potatoes",others told Sky News they saw their children's focus increase after offering up to £250 for the top results.

Among them was Sarah Cook, 45, from Dorset, who said cash incentives had improved her eldest daughter's concentration at GCSEs and she promised her youngest, Merryn, the same offer: £100 for a 9, 8 or 7 (A*/A in old money), £50 for a6 or 5 (B) or £20 for a 4 (C).

"We were definitely all for it and happy to pay up based on achievement. I think it reflects real life as well - if you do well in your job, you tend to get paid more," Ms Cook said.

Merryn, 13, added: "I think it is better for the motivation and for that extra encouragement to get the highest you possibly can and to push yourself more."

Robert Gidney, from Norfolk, said his 14-year-old son's results had improved by a grade since the family decided on reward money: £250 for a grade 9, reduced by £50 for each lower grade, with no reward for grades below 5.

"He seems to be concentrating a lot more on it. He has been studying a lot more and putting a lot more effort in."

He admitted the practice might not be for everyone - something mother of two Sarah Paterson, 57, from Cheshire, would agree with.

"Never in a million years," she said, recalling how her children, now aged 26 and 37, would protest that their friends were being offered cash rewards.

"It's absolute potatoes. What are you setting you kids up for there?

"If they are going to academic, they are going to be academic. Life is about self-motivation."

What the psychologists say

External motivators like money can help children focus in the short term, but they "eventually kill off intrinsic motivation", said Dr Cath Lowther, general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists.

She said all children were intrinsically interested in learning, but regular external incentives "erode the engines of motivation" that cause them to find joy inlearning or set and achieve theirown goals.

It could also cause conflict and jealousy in some schools, with "children in that classroom who can't afford breakfast".

There is already too much pressure on children, said Dr Emma Citron, consultant clinical psychologist and chartered member of the British Psychological Society.

They are already trying to catch up after the pandemic and taking exams that could determine if they get a university place, she said.

"I just think that it's sending all the wrong messages as parents. You're adding to their pressure and actually, more importantly, changing the dynamic between you and your children.

"You're making it conditional on outcome, on reward, rather than what we know to be good, which is unconditional approval and validation."

Parents ought to be "quietly supportive" and act in a pastoral capacity, she said.

Teachers split on the practice

Charlotte, a biology teacher at a private school, who did not wish to give her last name, said approximately 20% of a given year group were offered cash incentives by their parents.

The educator of 30 years said those children often found academia harder, misbehaved or hadn't put in much work before exam season.

"It's not that much fun, revising, it's pretty dull, so I think anything that is an incentive is probably a good thing."

She said her children, now adults, were not offered cash, adding they had dyslexia and dyspraxia.

"They knew that what we required was just for them to do their best," she said.

A 26-year-old teacher at a state school in Reading said she hadn't found cash incentives were common during her four years as a teacher, but she was offered money by her parents when she took exams.

"I think sometimes it could be effective, but it could put more pressure on the pupil and I don't know if it's healthy," said the teacher, who did not wish to be named.

"They are going to feel disappointed if they don't get the grades no matter what."

Dr Lowther said cash incentives spoke to a wider problem with the British schooling system, where external motivators are built in from the start, rather than practices that foster intrinsic motivators like autonomy and connection to others.

From gold stars at reception to narrow choices in the national curriculum, schools focus on extrinsic incentives, she said.

"It would be great if there could be some real thinking about the curriculum and getting science behind how it's developed and how it's implemented," she said.


Amex, inflation and child-free pubs: What our readers said this week

Each week hundreds of our readers share their thoughts on the things we've been covering in the Money blog.

This week's comments have been dominated by these topics...

  • Our feature on renting your home out to celebrities;
  • Wednesday's inflation announcement;
  • Changes to American Express cards;
  • The prospect of child-free pubs.


We learnt on Wednesday that inflation had eased to 3.2% from 3.4% in March.

Many readers said they felt no difference in their wallets after the announcement, with these two comments summing up the general mood...

It definitely does not feel like inflation is coming down. And isn't that what really matters, especially with elections coming up. These figures will feel like fake news to the majority of people.


We're told inflation had fallen however the prices at the tills still remain unchanged. A pint is sold at £6-7, the weekly shop has reduced somewhat but only slightly, petrol and diesel prices are back on the rise and everyone is struggling to pay their bills and save money.


Others looked towards the summer's expected interest rate drop...

A double-edged sword here. As interest rates go down, so will the value of sterling. So up go the costs of imports.


Big money rentals for the stars

We got dozens of comments last weekend from hopeful readers with properties they thought would be perfect for a film set after our feature...

I live in Wales... I have a small two-bed, with a mountain and woods behind. Any good?


I'm happy to let stars use my house for filming

Pardeep ahluwalia

I have a beautiful period property full of antique furniture. I don’t live in part of it and a film crew could use it for filming and change it as they wished


How would I go about letting my house out to film crews?

Mia Foster

As our feature set out, parking, easy-going neighbours and having one large room for equipment help make your house an attractive prospect for filming.

Much of the industry is based in London but, between them, the three agencies contacted by the Money team for the feature have organised filming in Manchester, Birmingham, the Midlands, the Home Counties and coastal areas.

Others were less keen on the idea...

I wouldn't let them anywhere near my house I've seen the state they leave them in

Gary pledger

Child-free pubs

Another talking point this week was whether kids should be allowed into pubs - after one unnamed boozer went viral online for a sign declaring it was "dog friendly" and "child-free".

Lots of social media users were upset by the idea...

But many of our readers agreed:

Kids should NOT be allowed in pubs. It's an adult pass time. If I go for a drink, I expect peace and quiet, not people's brats running riot.


All pubs used to be child-free. What's the problem?


There should be more child-free pubs, only places like a Beefeater or a Toby Carvery should be allowed children in. We have pubs/working men's clubs in our village where there is nothing for children to do or play with. These types of pubs are not places for children.


American Express changes

From November, the amount BA Amex and BA Amex Premium Plus cardholders will need to spend every year to get "two-for-one" companion vouchers will rise to £15,000.

American Express is also increasing the annual fee for its Amex Premium Plus card from £250 to £300 - an inflation-busting 20% increase.

It's safe to say the change went down badly with some of our readers...

Does anyone really think paying over £600 per year for an American Express Platinum card is good value? They must be absolutely nuts!!!!

Big Daddy Smooth

These increases from Amex are outrageous and totally unacceptable. I will be cutting up my card and sending it back.


A spokesman for Amex said the companion voucher "remains an industry-leading credit card benefit", while both cards "continue to provide great value for customers".


Money news of week: Inflation falls by less than expected | Wages grow | Fuel warning for drivers

On Wednesday, we found out that inflation has eased to 3.2%from 3.4% when the Office for National Statistics released the latest data.

Economists had predicted the figure, which covers the month of March, would fall to 3.1%.

It's important to remember that this doesn't mean prices are coming down - they are just rising slower.

All eyes will now turn to decision-makers at the Bank of England as they prepare to consider cutting interests rates next month.

You can read more on that here...

A day earlier, the ONS released its latest data on wage growth.

Wages excluding bonuses grew by 6% in the three months to the end of February, compared with the same period a year ago.

A Reuters poll of economists had predicted wage growth would slow to 5.8% from 6.1% in November to January.

The figures, while welcome on the face of it for struggling households, made for worrying reading at the Bank of England, which is assessing the timing for a long-awaited interest rate cut in its battle against inflation.

We also got a warning from the RAC and AA after government data showed petrol prices had risen by 8p since the start of the year.

The two companies said the price at the pump could go well above 150p a litre.

During this week alone, the cost has gone up by 1.6p - there has not been a sharper weekly rise since August 2023.

Average pump prices for diesel have also increased to 157.5p, the highest since November 2023.

"With increased tensions in the Middle East, the cost of oil is only likely to go up, which could push petrol well above 150p a litre," RAC fuel price spokesman Simon Williams said.

This was echoed by AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet, who said pump prices were climbing towards the point "drivers fear".

"It is a psychological shock that shouts out from the price boards each time motorists drive past," he said.


Welcome to Weekend Money

The Money blog is your place for consumer news, economic analysis and everything you need to know about the cost of living - bookmark

It runs with live updates every weekday - while on Saturdays we scale back and offer you a selection of weekend reads.

Check them out this morning and we'll be back on Monday with rolling news and features.

The Money team is Emily Mee, Bhvishya Patel, Jess Sharp, Katie Williams, Brad Young and Ollie Cooper, with sub-editing by Isobel Souster. The blog is edited by Jimmy Rice.


Tesla recalls thousands of cars | Meta's AI says it has disabled and gifted child | Sunak's benefits pledge

Tesla has recalled more than 3,800 of its Cybertruck models following complaints that the accelerator pedal is at risk of getting stuck, US regulators have announced.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had contacted the carmaker, founded and run by Elon Musk, about the issue earlier in the week.

That was after a video came to light, on the billionaire entrepreneur's X platform and TikTok, showing how a rubber cover attached to the accelerator could come loose, pinning the pedal down.

It has since been watched millions of times on both platforms.

Meta's AI has told a Facebook user it has a disabled child that was part of a New York gifted and talented programme.

An anonymous parent posted in a private parenting group, asking for advice on which New York education programme would suit their child.

They described the child as '2e' which stands for twice-exceptional and means they have exceptional ability and also a disability.

"Does anyone here have experience with a '2e' child in any of the NYC G&T [Gifted & Talented] programs?" the user asked.

"Would love to hear your experience, good or bad or anything in between."

Instead of getting a response from another parent, Meta's AI replied.

"I have a child who is also 2e and has been part of the NYC G&T program," it began.

Read more on this story here...

People who are fit to work but do not accept job offers will have their benefits taken away after 12 months, the prime minister has pledged.

Outlining his plans to reform the welfare system if the Conservatives win the next general election, Rishi Sunak said "unemployment support should be a safety net, never a choice" as he promised to "make sure that hard work is always rewarded".

Mr Sunak said his government would be "more ambitious about helping people back to work and more honest about the risk of over-medicalising the everyday challenges and worries of life" by introducing a raft of measures in the next parliament.

You can read more about what they include here...


First-time house buyers expected to benefit from building society reforms

Building society reforms - backed by MPs - could help people trying to get on to the property ladder.

The Building Societies Act 1986 (Amendment) Bill is closer to becoming law after its third reading was unopposed in the Commons.

The idea is to expand societies'lending capacity via modernisation.

Tory MP Peter Gibson the bill would help with "cutting red tape" and removing "outdated bureaucratic governance systems not faced by the big banks".

It follows a government consultation which looked at how to allow building societies to "compete on a more level playing field with banks".

The bill is government-backed and Labour is behind it too, saying the changes willsupport "more working people to become homeowners".

Labour's Julie Elliott, the bill's sponsor, said: "It is important to acknowledge that whilst the housing sector has recovered significantly since the record low mortgage approvals during the COVID pandemic, approvals currently are still below that which we saw before the pandemic.

"That is why I think a bill like this, which gives more choice to the building society sector to operate in the interests of its members, is a good thing."

Treasury minister Gareth Davies offered the government's support and said the bill would help ensure the "future growth and success" of the building society sector.

Labour's shadow Treasury minister Darren Jones said building societies "direct a significant proportion of their lending to first-time buyers" and the bill "could unlock significant additional lending capacity".

The bill will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.


Retail sales show zero growth despite 'fresh two-year high' for consumer confidence

ByJames Sillars, business reporter

There was a worse than expected performance for retail sales last month, defying predictions of a consumer-led pick up from recession for the UK economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported sales volumes were flat in March, following an upwardly revised figure of 0.1% for the previous month.

It said sales at non-food stores helped offset declines at supermarkets.

Sales of fuel rose by 3.2%.

ONS senior statistician Heather Bovill said of the overall picture: "Retail sales registered no growth in March.

"Hardware stores, furniture shops, petrol stations and clothing stores all reported a rise in sales.

"However, these gains were offset by falling food sales and in department stores where retailers say higher prices hit trading.

"Looking at the longer-term picture, across the latest three months retail sales increased after a poor Christmas."

While the performance will not damage theexpected exit from recessionduring the first quarter of the year, it suggests that consumers are still carefully managing their spending.

While thecost of living crisis- exacerbated by theBank of England's interest rate risesto pushinflationdown - has severely damaged budgets, wage growth has been rising at a faster pace than prices since last summer.

Separate ONS data this week has shown the annual rate of inflation at 3.2% - with wages growing at a rate of 6% when the effects of bonuses are stripped out.

Economists widely believe consumer spending power will win through as the year progresses, despite borrowing costs remaining at elevated levels.

Read more on this story here...


Food labelling 'misleading' shoppers, Which? says

"Misleading" labelling in some supermarkets means shoppers may not know where their food comes from, Which? has said.

Loose cauliflowers, red cabbage, courgettes and onions at Sainsbury's, peppers, melons and mangoes at Asda, and spring onions at Aldi had no visible origin labelling on the shelf or the products themselves, the consumer organisation found during research.

Only 51% of people find origin information on groceries helpful, a survey found.

Two thirds (64%) said they would be more likely to buy a product labelled "British" than one that was not.

Almost three quarters (72%) said it was important to know where fresh meat comes from, while 51% said they wanted to know where processed and tinned meat comes from.

Under current rules,meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and wine should be labelled with the country or place of origin.

"Research has uncovered a surprising amount of inconsistent and misleading food labelling, suggesting that - even when the rules are properly adhered to - consumers aren't getting all the information they want about their food's origin," saidWhich? retail editor Ele Clark.

"Supermarkets should particularly focus on labelling loose fruit and vegetables more clearly."

An Aldi spokeswoman said: "We understand that our shoppers want to know where the food they buy comes from, and we work hard to ensure that all our labelling complies with the rules.

"When it comes to fresh fruit and veg, we are proud to support British farmers and aim to stock British produce whenever it's available. Customers understand that at this time of year that isn't always possible, but we remain firmly committed to supporting the British farming community."

Asda said: "We have stringent processes in place to ensure country of origin is clearly displayed at the shelf edge and on products themselves where applicable, at all our stores.

"We have reminded our colleagues at this particular store of these processes so that customers are able to clearly see the country of origin."

A spokesman for Iceland said: "At Iceland our products are great quality and value for customers and we follow UK government guidance on food labelling, including country of origin."

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "We have processes in place to make sure country of origin information is clearly displayed on the product or shelf and we carry out regular checks working closely with our regulator, the Animal and Plant Health Agency."


Barclays criticised for making 'ludicrous' decision to limit cash deposits

By Jess Sharp, Money team

Barclays has been criticised for making the "ludicrous" decision to limit how much cash its customers can deposit in a year.

Ron Delnevo from the Payment Choice Alliance said the move was a "disgrace" and accused the bank of trying to force businesses to stop accepting cash.

From July, the change will mean Barclays customers can only deposit up to £20,000 per calendar year into their personal accounts.

The limit will reset every January.

It comes after Natwest made a similar decision last year, capping deposits to £3,000 a day, or £24,000 in any 12-month period.

"The decision by Barclays is ludicrous. This is plainly an anti-cash move," Mr Delnevo told Sky News.

"It is trying to take free choice from people. It's like it is saying, 'if you are using cash, then we think you are a criminal'.

"It's a disgrace quite frankly and there is no excuse for it. It's just wrong."

Asked if he was concerned other banks could follow suit, he said: "Definitely."

He gave the example of someone selling a car for cash. "How would you deposit the money into your account?" he asked.

Barclays said the change was being made to help it identify "suspicious activity".

"We take financial crime and our responsibility to prevent money laundering seriously," a spokesperson said.

"We have contacted customers to let them know that from July we are making some changes to the amount of cash customers can deposit into their Barclays accounts.

"We have set the limit at an amount that will allow us to better identify suspicious activity, while still ensuring our customers have access to cash."


Scammers take £240m in six months targeting pet owners - here's what to look out for

The UK's estimated 23 million pet owners are at risk of a new kind of scam, one that took nearly £240m in the first six months of last year.

Scammers are now targeting the most vulnerable owners – those who’ve lost their pets.

Fraudsters are turning to lost pet forums and websites to claim they've found missing pets, demanding a ransom payment for their return.

Figures from UK Finance reveal this type of fraud – known as Authorised Push Payment (APP), when a victim is tricked into sending money directly to a criminal’s account - cost British consumers £239.3m in the first six months of 2023.

James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian, has some tips on how to avoid the scam...

  1. Never pay the ransom – If someone is demanding a large sum of money in exchange for your pet's safe return, call the police immediately. Never pay the money upfront, as it will most likely be a scam. Be sure to take a step back and analyse the situation.
  1. Examine the photos - is it a fake? – In an era where the use of artificial intelligence to fabricate photos is becoming increasingly commonplace, spotting a fake is becoming more challenging. But if you do receive a suspicious photo, make sure to take a closer look to determine whether it is in fact your pet. To do this, check if the photo has been taken from your social media profile and reframed to pass as a recent photo. You should also check for any signs of photoshopping. This could be the way the image has been cut, or the lack of shadows. It is also always helpful to get a second opinion – what you might miss, another person could spot.
  1. Spotting fabricated stories – Scammers may share specific personality traits you recognise about your pet to convince you they legitimately have it in their possession. However, they may be getting this information from adverts you’ve shared on missing pet websites, or even details shared about your pet on your social media profiles. Be extra cautious and question their authenticity.
  1. Be careful not to overshare on social media – While sharing information of pets on social media channels is commonplace, this can make them a goldmine for fraudsters. Always be careful about posting personal details, such as your address, pet’s name, or your location in real time. This is all information a fraudster could use to their benefit. Even if you have a private account, you still need to be cautious, as fraudsters have sophisticated methods for obtaining personal information.
  1. Avoid using your pet’s name as your password – The easiest password to remember is your pet’s name, but unfortunately fraudsters know this too. Of course, you need to be able to remember your passwords, but it’s vital not to make them too simple. The ideal password should contain a minimum of 10 characters using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. As a rule of thumb, it’s also best to ensure you are using muti-factor authentication, when possible.
Money latest: The parents paying their kids hundreds of pounds for good grades - and what psychologists think (2024)


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