Parents across Scotland ponder '˜thank you' gifts for teachers

Vouchers to spend the day at a luxury spa, chocolates, flowers, a personalised mug or perhaps a batch of homemade biscuits baked and iced by a child?

One in ten parents is ratcheting up the pressure by spending £25 or more on such presents
One in ten parents is ratcheting up the pressure by spending £25 or more on such presents

Such is the dilemma faced by harassed parents across Scotland choosing a “thank you” gift for their child’s teacher to be presented on the last day of term before the summer holidays.

But a poll by the parenting website Mumsnet reveals one in ten parents is ratcheting up the pressure by spending £25 or more on such presents.

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Three-fifths agreed parents and children should give teachers presents or tokens of appreciation, whether bought or home-made, with 26 per cent contributing to a class collection.

However, while most parents said they spend £10 – 23 per cent – others admitted to spending £15 (11 per cent), £20 (15 per cent), with 4 per cent spending up to £25.

Ten per cent admitted to splashing out £25 or more.

Parents with more than one child can face buying multiple presents, especially if teaching assistants and helpers are added to the list.

In case anyone forgets, supermarkets stock “thank you to the best teacher” cards at check-outs, along with specially-packed confectionary.

Chocolates were the most popular token followed by contributing to a class collection, vouchers, alcohol, and a gift made by a child, the poll of over 1,000 Mumsnet users with at least one child at primary school found.

Just under half (44 per cent) feel pressurised to give presents, with 41 per cent disagreeing and the rest unsure.

In addition, 45 per cent agreed some parents enjoy the “one-up mans hip” of buying the best present.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said parents are buying presents to show how much they value the hard work and effort put in by teachers.

“Most parents are really grateful for teachers’ efforts and like to show their appreciation at the end of the school year,” Ms Roberts said.

“The main worry is how to avoid gifting the same teacher multiple boxes of Roses and bottles of cheap plonk.”

Educational psychologist Dr Mary Brown, said while such gift-giving may sound like a polite thing to do, the custom also has negative undertones.

Dr Brown, a former lecturer at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said: “In a way it reflects the whole business of how we’ve turned so many relationships into a commercial exchange.

“You could also argue that parents are setting their children a bad example by suggesting that those in a professional job need and deserve more money.

“It rather reflects the lower status teaching now has in that teachers are being ‘tipped’ as if they were in a low-paid job such as waiting at tables.

“There can be no doubt there is a bit of ‘keeping up with the Joneses involved’ among parents and also sometimes an element of bribery in the hope their other, younger children get more favourable treatment when they reach that teacher’s class.

“Those involved in education are less bothered about getting things than asking themselves ‘am I doing a good job?’

“They say what meant the most to them was when a pupil moving on thanked for them in person.”