AS a competitive person, I’ve never quite understood the idea of removing competition from the lives of the young.

Yet, here we are again. A private school in London is scrapping prize-giving and stating that high achievers will no longer be recognised at the traditional end of year ceremony in order “to be sensitive to the feelings of the other pupils.”

In other words, don’t bother trying too hard, kids, as you’re all the same anyway.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth - or more damaging to any young person’s aspirations - because competition is really all about that: hope and aspiration.

If you remove the competitive element from school life altogether (remember, this is the same school where gender-neutral loos were installed) you risk making children very bland indeed. The reasons for trying harder, running faster, making a greater effort all round just don’t exist anymore.

Children – just like adults – need to understand competition because life IS very competitive. They need incentives to try harder and make more of an effort at achieving rather than just sitting back and letting life roll all over them.

Our job as parents is partly to make children see that, yes, they have still done a good job even though they have lost and to stick in there because they may win next time. Winning may not be the be all and end all of everything but there is a big difference in satisfaction in winning and losing. And the key is to help youngsters to keep going with their eyes on the prize.

How they try is almost more important than what they achieve.

None of us likes to see our children upset because they’ve not achieved exactly what they wanted – whether it’s the class prize for art or first place in the egg and spoon race.

Yet, we do need to teach them how to lose as well as win because life is all made up of winners and losers. It’s not an opinion, it’s a tough fact. If they can learn to deal with losing – and, in many cases, deal with winning as well – then they will grow into rounded adults better able to face life’s challenges.

Trying to force everyone to be exactly the same by eliminating competition may take away the reason for trying. And what sort of lesson in living is that for any child?