Teacher presents – what do they really want?


A hot topic on Classlist is always teacher’s presents. According to a survey by The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) of 1000 teachers, 93% receive gifts.

The most popular gift according to the ATL survey and chimes with our members: wine, a box of chocolates or a plant. Some very organised class reps have collected money through our money collection system to purchase vouchers on behalf of the class. Other parents are actively discussing whether present giving is indeed appropriate, if it is becoming too competitive and if giving is the norm, what is a reasonable. We have done some research and asked teachers what kind of presents they like receiving – and equally, what they don’t want to receive on that final day. From a teacher’s perspective here are their views about the following presents:

Great presents for teachers

1. Handmade personalized card with genuine message of thanks by the child – this tops the ratings as the best present according to the ATL survey and our sample of teachers. One teacher commented: “I have kept all such letters I received over 30+ years of teaching!”

2. Vouchers – from John Lewis or Amazon are popular and a safe bet as long as not excessive. Useful for stocking up on stationery and purchasing books that can be used in class in the new year or general household stuff.

3. Stationery – large erasers, post it notes, stickers, high quality pencils and personalised pens. Art gallery shops are a good source for interesting gifts.

4. Canvas bags – to carry marking home or shopping

5. Quality tea, coffee and drinking chocolate – can be consumed or passed on at Christmas!

Debatable offerings

1. Homemade food. Cookies, shortbread, cakes, fudge made by a highly competent parent is welcome. Particularly if quantities are large enough to share in the common room. In contrast edibles made by children, less popular. A comment from one teacher but echoed by others, “I know it’s the thought that counts, but any cakes, biscuits or other foodstuffs made by pupils go straight in the bin. Having seen how much nose-picking and nail-biting goes on in the classroom, I can never bring myself to eat them.”

2. Toiletries. A traditional present but many teachers consider this to be too personal, too smelly or not suitable for their skin types. On the whole, a higher risk present.

3. Flowers. Another traditional choice. As an ancillary present to a handmade card with a voucher from the class, this is a great option. Multiple bouquets all given by individual parents on the same day, on the other hand, not terribly practical.

Presents to avoid

1. Mugs – in particular those that say “Best Teacher Ever”

2. Jewellery. Numerous teachers mentioned receiving earrings when they don’t have pierced ears.

3. Anything that comes from a specialty shop that flogs teachers presents.

4. Any consumables that are out of date (yes this happens all the time)

5. Most important of all do not give something embarrassingly expensive.

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