Anglesey school plea not to buy staff Christmas gifts

By Amanda Cashmore
BBC News

Image source, Ysgol Gymuned Rhosybol
Image caption,
Pupils at Ysgol Gymuned Rhosybol on Anglesey will not be buying staff Christmas gifts

A school has asked parents not to buy Christmas presents for teachers in a bid to relieve pressure on families and support those in need.

Ysgol Gymuned Rhosybol on Anglesey asked parents who wanted to give gifts to donate to charity instead.

One parent said teachers she knew would be "mortified" if parents felt pressured to buy presents they could not afford.

And another described the move as "quite a relief".

Claire Hughes, a teaching assistant and parent at the school, said the idea was prompted by the school's head teacher after reading about the financial burden gift giving placed on families.

She said during the festive period, the staff room could be filled with around twenty boxes of chocolates from parents, on top of other gifts.

Mrs Hughes said: "We felt quite guilty receiving gifts and felt that we needed to change what happens here in our school."

She added that a Christmas card was more than enough.

Image source, Claire Hughes
Image caption,
Teaching assistant and parent Claire Hughes said a Christmas card was more than enough

Mrs Hughes explained that when they told pupils they would not be doing presents, they were "initially quite disappointed".

However, it led to the decision for children to give to charity instead, such as food banks - although Mrs Hughes explained there is no pressure for them to donate at all.

She added that the children are "realising the importance" of helping people at Christmas.

As a result, her six-year-old son Caleb decided to create his own box for an Anglesey homeless charity.

Image source, Digartref Ynys Mon
Image caption,
Caleb donating his box to the charity, Digartref Ynys Mon

She explained that as a parent, not having the burden of buying gifts for staff is a "relief".

"I find it quite a relief myself, not having to worry about what to give them", she said.

"As staff know I appreciate just a thank you."

Competing parents

Cathryn Scott, who runs parenting blog Cardiff Mummy Says, said that it is "natural" for parents to want to thank teachers over Christmas.

But the mother-of-three added that although it is not something she experiences, reports of parents competing to buy presents are "worrying".

"I have a lot of friends who are teachers and I know they would be mortified if they thought parents were feeling pressure to buy gifts they can't afford."

At her children's school, parents can contribute £5 to buy vouchers for the class teacher and teaching assistants, and Ms Scott says there is no way she could buy individual gifts for all her children's teachers.

Image source, Ysgol Gymund Rhosybol
Image caption,
Part of the note sent out by the Anglesey primary school

A primary school teacher in Cardiff, Frances Herbert, explained that children enjoy giving the presents to teachers, but said she does feel guilty sometimes.

"Especially when only working part time! But children love watching you open something."

Harriet Warren, a mother from Cardiff, said her children opted to make homemade gifts.

"My three children have each made a bauble for their teachers, instead of joining in with the parents' group collection", she explained.

"I felt it was a more personal gift which they enjoyed doing and saved me a little bit of money."

More on this story