What does ‘no gift policy’ teach kids?

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The spirit of Christmas is getting stronger as December 25 approaches – except at Falkirk Council it seems.

A friend of mine got a letter home from her son’s school the other day saying her wee one, everybody else in his class and the pupils at the entire school were not allowed to bring any presents for their teachers.

Here is what her son had to show her in his newsletter: “As we approach Christmas and recognise that children often bring gifts to school for teachers and other staff, we have been asked to share a new policy from Falkirk Council which prevents any employee from receiving gifts.

“We therefore ask that if you or your child wishes to gift anything to staff that this could possibly be in the form of a card. We appreciate your co-operation.”

Now my friend’s wee boy has given a present to his teachers every year he has been at school – nothing extravagant, just something thoughtful that shows the teacher he actually cares about the good job they are doing – and the little dear was beside himself that because of Falkirk Council he will not be able to do it this year or give his future teachers anything either.

Falkirk Council say it is policy that local authority employees are not allowed to accept gifts – and if they do they have to go online and go through some sort of complex red tape exercise to officially declare it.

Now I’m not going to go off on some rant and mention Scrooge or the possibility the powers-that-be at the council and the HMRC, who supposedly come up with the guidelines the council has to follow, will shortly be visited by three ghosts to show them the error of their ways, but come on – what’s the problem here?

If they are worried about it being seen as a bribe for the teacher to give a pupil good marks then they need to grow up.

They may be worried families cannot afford to be dishing out presents left right and centre – a genuine concern that would show they actually cared about residents, but no family is going to break the bank on a gift to their child’s teacher.

They might go into debt to ensure their wee one cracks a smile on Christmas Day, but they won’t be handing the keys of a new Ferrari to little Johnny’s P1 teacher.

And what does this policy say to the children?

We go out of our way to drill the ‘tis better to give than to receive ethos into their heads and here is Falkirk Council ordering us to hold off on the giving – at least as far as its employees are concerned.