Christmas gifts for teachers: Yes or no?

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Parents are being urged to "think again" before buying Christmas gifts for teachers.

Campaigners are warning the tradition places needless financial pressure on hard-up families.

Parents group Connect has joined forces with the EIS teaching union and Child Poverty Action Group to discourage Christmas gift buying at schools.

While not calling for a complete ban, their message is that a simple "thank you" is enough.

'Struggling families'

Eileen Prior, executive director of Connect, said: "Our recent parent survey on families struggling with financial hardship made it crystal clear that asking parents to contribute to Christmas gifts may inadvertently create real difficulties and pressures.

"We also know from our survey that many school communities focus a lot of energy on helping struggling families.

"So we are asking everyone to please reconsider the whole issue of Christmas gifts for teachers - show your appreciation in other ways. A simple and heartfelt 'thank you' is enough."

Many shops and online retailers offer bespoke Christmas gifts for teachers

At some schools, parents organise whole-class collections to fund a costly item, creating a social pressure on parents to contribute, the group said.

Teachers' gifts available online

  • "World's Best Teacher" hamper, 20 items in a wicker basket including Paul Langier Brut champagne and organic Cotswold Brie - £171
  • Teacher's gin glass with level markings for new term, half and end of term, £23
  • Gallery Thea personalised keepsake box, £40
  • Personalised teachers' tea break box, £24.99
  • Personalised wine bottle with I'm a teacher, get me out of here label, £19.99

The Child Poverty Action Group said even "seemingly low cost" presents could put pressure on low income families, and it urged parents' bodies to discourage the "culture of extravagant gifts".

A spokeswoman said: "Children and their families quite rightly want to show thanks and wish their teachers a Merry Christmas but teachers we've spoken to at the Cost of the School Day project have mentioned feeling uncomfortable about receiving generous Christmas presents from children as they know it places additional obligation and pressure on families."

One Scottish local authority, Falkirk Council, last year urged schools to tell parents not to give gifts to teachers and other school staff.

It said school staff should not receive gifts or hospitality - and if they did, they should record them, in line with the council's policy for other employees.

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, backed the campaign, saying its members appreciated the financial pressures many families were facing, especially at Christmas.

A spokesperson said: "Christmas gifts for teachers are simply unaffordable for many families and are unnecessary anyway.

"School communities will want to keep down the cost of the school day at Christmas-time too so that all children can take full part in the festivities on an equal footing - there'd be no better gift for a teacher than seeing this."

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