St Keverne School has defended itself after families spoke of their disappointment over the lack of competitive sport or "recognition of achievement" at the village primary school, fearing it was "building children up for a fall in life."

The matter was raised at last week’s meeting of the parish council and has been echoed on Facebook, with more than 50 people responding to one person's complaint.

It stems from a perceived lack of competition at last week’s sports day, where pupils coming first, second and third in events were treated the same as all the other pupils that took part.

This was followed by a decision not to award trophies at the end of term assembly.

Janet Patterson, a former teacher at the school for 27 years who has also been a parent and grandparent of pupils there, said she was “greatly saddened” that some of the traditions, such as the presentation of cups, were being lost.

“Giving children recognition for endeavour, progress and achievement is surely what education is all about,” she added.

Becci Baker, a current parent at the school, said she had a “very upset little boy” who she claimed came second in an event and did not even get a certificate, with all pupils in key stage one years receiving medals instead.

“I personally think they are building our children up for a big fall in life when, for example, they go for a job interview and assume they'll get it cause everyone’s a winner,” she said.

One person even claimed a family member was “told off” for cheering a young girl home in one of the races at sports day.

The matter was raised at last week’s parish council meeting by member David Lambrick. Referring to the sports day, he said: “To take the attitude of ‘everyone is a winner’ – life isn’t like that. Young parents would rather see their kids try their hardest even if they get beaten.”

Regarding a lack of trophies at the end of term assembly, he added: “They don’t want to show somebody is better than somebody else in certain things. St Keverne School has all these cups donated over the years and they’re put in a cupboard because there’s no winners or losers.”

Councillor Sarah Lyne, who is also business manager at the school, said she did not believe either issue was council business and advised anyone concerned to speak directly to the school.

However, she added: "In actual fact St Keverne are aligning themselves with other local schools. The emphasis is on year six; it's their special time, they're leaving their primary education."

Wendy Sherlock, acting headteacher at St Keverne School, told the Packet: "St Keverne School regularly celebrates children’s achievements in many ways, for example ‘Well done’ assemblies every week which celebrate special achievements both in and outside school; awarding ‘Star of the Week’ in each class; reading challenge awards; lunchtime awards. Each class has its own system of rewarding positive behaviour and learning attitude, [there is a] Super Six award specifically for recognising the successes of year six pupils [and a] reception graduation assembly."

She added that awards, certificates and medals were handed out for sporting events.

"All of these celebrations are designed to recognise successes in a timely fashion in relation to when they were achieved.

"Earlier this year, Ofsted acknowledged the way in which pupils have been encouraged to achieve their best, stating that the school has high expectations and ambitions for its pupils; we were awarded an Ofsted judgement of ‘good’ - the first ‘good’ in many years," said Mrs Sherlock.

She said the year six leavers' assembly would be a way of celebrating their time at the school and the contributions they had made.