Call for expensive Christmas gifts for teachers to be ditched

Teachers have received increasingly lavish gifts.
Teachers have received increasingly lavish gifts.
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Parents' groups have called for an end to the practice of giving teachers gifts at Christmas - saying that it puts financial pressure on cash-strapped families.

Organisations have warned that the increasingly lavish nature of end-of-term gifts, which can include bottles of champagne, luxury candles or gourmet foods, was spiralling out of control.

Eileen Prior, executive director of parent body Connect, formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said the body would be writing to parent councils and parent teacher associations, demanding that they encourage parents to drop the practice and make it clear that it is not necessary.

"We understand families are really keen to show their appreciation and gratitude to their child’s teachers at Christmas, but this year we are urging parents to think carefully about what they are planning and we are calling on parent councils and parent teacher associations to support parents in this," she 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 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. A simple and heartfelt thank you is enough."

Last year, Falkirk Council banned teachers from receiving gifts at Christmas, saying it had rolled out a policy which had applied to other council workers for some time.

A spokeswoman for the EIS, Scotland's largest teaching union , said: "Schools have been working hard to cut the cost of the school day and to ensure that all children can be involved in all aspects of school life without having to pay.

"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."