Kate Livingstone: The question of gifts for teachers

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A couple of years ago there was an outcry when Falkirk Council said parents shouldn’t buy gifts for their children to give teachers at Christmas.

Apparently it was in line with local authority policy which was in place for all employees.

However, many parents – and personally I agreed with them – argued that teachers have much closer contact with children than other council staff do and it was all part of the Christmas ‘giving’ season if a youngster wanted to present their class teacher with a box of chocolates or bottle of bubble bath.

I think it all blew over and from what I’ve heard from Emma and her friends, most sensible headteachers chose to look the other way when Christmas and end of term gifts are handed over

But of course, there are always the few who spoil it for others.

One of my friends, whose family live in another district, was almost apoplectic at the weekend when she was telling us about some of the presents being bought for teachers in the school her grandchildren attend.

“Meal vouchers and gift tokens for spa days,” she spluttered, “can you believe it?

“And of course, now it has become a case of one-upmanship as some of the mums try to outdo each other.

“I told my daughter-in-law that she would be mad to get involved and to buy the box of Roses or bunch of flowers that she normally does and forget about the rest of them.”

Another friend, who works for an accountant, commented that she hoped those receiving the gifts realised that over a certain value and they would have to report them to the tax man.

Later that day, I called Emma and asked what she was doing for teacher gifts.

“Oh I’m actually quite organised this year,” she said. “With us going on holiday at the weekend I’ve already bought a couple of little personalised gifts online – cost me less than a fiver each – and the kids are taking them in on the last day.

“But yes I did see some P1 youngster at the school gate on Friday with a bunch of flowers that was bigger than them and they were handed over to the teacher in the playground in full view of everyone else’s mum and dad.

“I couldn’t be bothered with that. It’s a minding the teacher gets from my two.”

I’m glad some of my ‘sensible genes’ seem to have rubbed off on my daughter!