A West Midlands school is dishing out hundreds of pounds to its top-performing students in a bid to raise attainment.
The cash incentives are been offered to year 11 pupils at Joseph Leckie Community Technology College in the run up to their GCSE exams.
Youngsters at the school in Walsall are split into mixed ability teams with the top one awarded £400 at the end of each of two terms, and £800 for the group performing best in their GCSEs.
Under the system, a youngster in the top set all the way through stands to earn £180 by the end of the year.
A teacher union last night raised concern over using cash bribes as an inducement to boost results.
But the school's head Keith Whittlestone defended the move.
"Cash is an incentive. It is short-sighted to criticise it. There are lots of things people are doing in the name of motivation. Some schools reward youngsters by letting them choose what they want to do like having a pizza party," he said.
"We are looking at ways of encouraging all of our students. Some of them respond more readily having inducements and that helps motivate them and helps engage them more readily with the learning process and moves up standards."
Mr Whittlestone said the scheme, which was introduced for the first time this year, was no different in principle than the Government's Education Maintenance Allowance which provides cash for youngsters to stay in education post-16.
Pupils at Joseph Leckie are ranked based on their performance in the previous year - year 10. They are then assessed each term with a point added if they exceed their predicted grade and deducted if they miss it.
Youngsters are divided into teams of between eight and ten and at the end of each term their points are totalled up.
"The top team each term gets £400, which is roughly about £40 each, the second team get £20 each, the third £10 and the fourth £5 a head," said Mr Whittlestone.
"In the summer term we are doubling the cash prize based on the best GCSE results meaning each youngster in that team will get £100.
"It is a bit like the premier league. You are only as good as the weakest member of your team. We hope that a team approach and getting them to work together on course work and homework will raise attainment."
Mr Whittlestone said it was too early to judge whether the scheme was working but added: "It has certainly been a very big talking point at Leckie since we announced it. It has caused quite a buzz in the school.
"There is a lot of competition within the groups."
The school has previously experimented with offering cash incentives to pupils on an individual basis to those who achieved above their predicted grades.
"We have gone from an individual scheme to try and get youngsters to work together," said Mr Whittlestone. "The next phase will be to get teachers to work as mentors to try and engender a more team work approach to it."
The cash-for-results incentive is being funded through a mixture of the existing school budget and other revenue streams such as the neighbourhood renewal fund.
It is part of a raft of innovative measures introduced at Joseph Leckie which includes hiring a motivation coach and getting pupils to attend master classes in English, maths and science at Wolverhampton University.
Offering cash incentives to pupils were however criticised by the NASUWT. Paula Roe, the union's rep for the West Midlands, said: "Giving them vouchers seems more appropriate, I think there are problems with giving them hard cash."