Rewards Vs Bribes | Dean Cotton

Published On: 30 November 2023

In this episode, Clare talks to Dean Cotton, a Principal Team Teach trainer, about the use of rewards and consequences to support behaviour. Dean describes the impact of using rewards, and explores how they can sometimes inhibit the development of intrinsic motivation.

Dean worked in Early Years for 15 years, followed by a period in a school specialising in children and young people with SEMH needs. There, he trained staff in the Team Teach approach, resulting in a 95% reduction in behaviour incidents, and zero exclusions.

Following the closure of the school in 2005, Dean completed a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning, and subsequently founded an organisation that provides training and consultancy in behaviour support.

Dean is also an author, and delivers entertaining, thought-provoking keynote speeches. In 2021, Dean founded Behaviour Smart Ltd, an incident-recording system that reduces incidents and improves behaviour.

You can find Dean at or, and on Facebook or Instagram.

Dean recommends the book, Punished By Rewards, by Alfie Kohn.

He also shares three tips during the episode:

It is important to be honest about whether we are offering rewards, or bribes disguised as rewards, for preferred behaviour.

If rewards are to be used, they should be personalised, and well thought through in advance.

We can encourage the development of intrinsic motivation through offering specific, rather than generic, praise, and acknowledging the behaviour we want to see.

You’re listening to the Team Teach podcast. In each episode, you’ll catch Team Teach Principal Trainer, Clare Edmondson, talking with a guest about an aspect of behaviour. Find out the latest thinking in behaviour, continue your own professional development, and leave with three practical tips you can use in your setting. It’s perfect for any professional working in education and health and social care.