19th November 2018

Call to action! Connect campaigns with EIS and the Child Poverty Action Group, ask everyone to please think again about Christmas gifts for teachers!

You may recall our survey of parents which looked at how best to support families facing financial hardship earlier this year. It was clear that parents and parent groups wanted to do everything they could to help struggling families - and here is something you can definitely do!

Please discourage teacher Christmas gift buying at your school if possible - requests for cash for class presents or the practice of giving individual gifts to teachers can place additional stress on families at an expensive time of year. A simple 'thank you' is enough! We know how grateful parents and children are to their teachers for all their hard work - but spending money is not necessary to show this gratitude, honestly.  Read the full press release below.

 

Press Release: Parents’ organisation Connect joins with the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Child Poverty Action Group to ask:

‘Christmas Gifts From Pupils to Teachers – Time to Think Again?’

‘We understand that 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 PTAs to support parents in this,’ says Eileen Prior, Executive Director of parents’ organisation Connect.  ‘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!’

The Educational Institute of Scotland is supporting this advice. The EIS says: ‘Teachers are very much aware of the financial pressures that thousands of families are under every day of the year and especially at Christmas. 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 – there’d be no better gift for a teacher than seeing this.’

The Child Poverty Action Group confirms the challenges faced by families: ‘There are countless financial demands on families at Christmas time and seemingly small costs for things like teacher gifts can place real pressure on the many families who are living on low incomes. 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. So many school communities are already doing fantastic work to reduce the cost of the school day - Parent Councils and PTAs can really make a difference for all their families by working to challenge the culture of extravagant gifts where it exists.’   

This is a great opportunity for Parent Councils and PTAs to demonstrate their awareness and sensitivity towards other families in their school community and to show leadership in their schools by discouraging teacher gift-giving as it can get out of hand.

Further Information on Teacher Gifts

Pressure on parents and families to give more and more lavish teacher gifts has increased over the years and it is now common practice.

‘It’s the way to get yourself to the top of the class’ states one gift website as it promotes Christmas gifts for teachers.  At Connect, we hear of stressed parents being asked for £10 contributions to a class teacher’s present – if they can’t or won’t pay, their child’s name doesn’t get put on the card.  Then there are tales of parents competing to buy the most expensive, stand-out gift.  Websites are selling teacher gifts costing on average over £15. There are parents who spend hours crafting a unique homemade offering which gets round requests for no gifts, or small homemade tokens.

Connect highly recommends that Parent Councils and PTAs make early statements to parents about teacher gift giving – don’t do it! Parent groups can lead by example by not having whole-class money collections for gifts. For those families with money worries, this can be yet another financial pressure at a very challenging time of year.

Teachers, like everyone else, are delighted when their commitment and efforts are appreciated. But warm words and a thank you do the job!