POLL: Should teachers be given gifts at the end of a school year?

Teachers told us what they believe the best approach to end of year gifts is...

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File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

As we approach the end of June, primary schools around the country are starting to close up for the summer.

For a child, a ten-month school year can seem like a very long time. It’s understandable that pupils and parents would like to thank a teacher in some way at the end of the year or before the Christmas holidays.

Teachers are some of the most important people in most kids’ lives, so there’s an obvious motivation for some sort of small gesture before everybody moves on to the next class.

The issue of presents for teachers is one of those social ‘grey areas’ for a lot of people. It’s often discouraged by schools - with an email or letter sent to parents advising them it’s not necessary. Most parents will find out through the grapevine whether it's traditionally done or not in individual schools.

However, many teachers will end up laden with presents on the last day of the school year.

A child giving a teacher a small gift is, in the vast majority of cases, completely harmless. There are, though, a few concerns worth bearing in mind.

If parents in a school traditionally pick up gifts for a teacher, it could easily put a financial burden on some families. Others may simply be unsure what sort of present is ‘too much’ or ‘too little’, although discussions with other parents could help clear that up.

In extreme cases, the whole situation could also put some pressure on the children themselves - especially if they believe one of their classmates ended up giving a ‘better’ - or indeed 'worse' - present.

While these issues should be noted, the reality is that in many schools gift-giving can become an ‘unwritten rule’ among kids and parents.

So we asked a number teachers what they feel the best approach is.

The consensus was clear: it’s the thought that counts. Most said they would much rather receive a handwritten card or message than any sort of expensive gift - after all, the teacher could well have helped teach the child to write in the first place!

As one said: “Most importantly a teacher does appreciate a thoughtful and heartfelt written card than an overly extravagant gift with a name signed and nothing else.”

Another suggested that “a nice thankful message from a parent or a homemade card are always much appreciated”.

If a child or parent wants to give a gift to go along with a card, it was again suggested that a small present with genuine thought put into it can be very much appreciated.

“My favourite ever present was a novelty cup filled with Twirl bars as the child knew that they were my favourite,” one teacher said.

Another suggested that parents could group together to buy one substantial gift: “€2 per parent put together for a €60 voucher is much more appreciated than 30 random €5 presents.”

Buying a present for teachers is definitely one of the more minor complications of modern school-life. But as is the case with all gift-giving, the best advice is that a bit of thought will always be preferable to extravagance.

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