I don’t know if times have changed since I was at school in the 1970s and ’80s, or if my memory has simply failed, but I don’t recall a culture of gift-giving to teachers in the summer, as each academic year drew to a close.
Nowadays it seems to be big business, with both major brands and handmade craft shops getting involved in “thank you” cards and gifts.
So what’s the etiquette around giving a gift to your child’s class teacher?
A recent Mumsnet survey of 1000 parents found that the average cost of a present for a primary school teacher was £10.60, with 1 in 10 parents spending over £25.
Then again, 8% thought it unnecessary to buy a present at all.
Well over three-quarters of parents bought a gift for the class teacher, with a similar number buying for teaching assistants, but just 1 in 10 buying for the headteacher.
The top five presents gifted were flowers, homemade gifts, alcohol, vouchers, and chocolates.
It’s worth mentioning that teachers don’t expect to be given gifts by their students. Meaningful, bespoke or edible/drinkable gifts or certificates seem to be the best choice.
Before splashing out on those personalised craft keepsakes, mugs or other items, have a think about it from the teacher’s perspective.
Say they have 30 children in their class and their teaching career could span 30 or more years. Theoretically they could end up with close on 1000 ‘cute’ gifts which – while surely given out of love or appreciation – might need a whole room or several cupboards in their home to store.
I read another article which said that teachers appreciate handmade cards or notes. Not only are these easier to store but they are a true reflection of how a child feels about their teacher. If they include words describing how a teacher has helped a student, they can be a genuine source of encouragement.
“Best teacher” mugs are nice but no-one really needs more than a shelf-full…
There’s a general consensus that vouchers for items or experiences which a teacher may not ordinarily spend on themselves – spa breaks and pampering sessions for example – are the best buy.
Personally, I think the automatic gift-giving culture has gone a bit over the top in recent years, driven a lot by commercialism.
However, a token thank you gift with a nice hand-written card won’t break the bank and shows some genuine appreciation.
What do you think? Do you buy gifts for your children’s teachers?