It is that festive time of year when the children are almost ready to take their Christmas break.
But before they do, many children and indeed parents have to consider an important issue: do they get teacher a Christmas present?
When it comes to Christmas presents, it’s the thought that counts, according to teachers in Down.
Fearful of a new trend being set, local teacher Carney Cumper, vice principal at Killyleagh Integrated Primary and President of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking after a school recently capped Christmas gifts for teachers at a whopping £50
(The school in question which is a private primary school called St Helen and St Katharine’s in Oxfordshire, on the Telegragh top ten private primary schools list, this month set a precedent and put a £50 cap on Christmas presents for teachers).
Mrs Cumper said: “With shops full of ‘Best Teacher Ever’ cards and gifts, parents may feel pressure to buy something, especially if other parents are doing so,” said Mrs Cumper.
“However, the last thing we want is for any family to feel obliged to buy anything or for a child to be embarrassed because they don’t have something to give the teacher.
“While it is such a lovely thought and teachers love hearing that the pupils and parents appreciate their work they would not want any child or family to be put under financial pressure.
“Some of the best presents we’ve received over the years have been little hand-written notes or home-made cards from children. These are the things on which we know they’ve spent the time and efforts – and that’s worth so much more than monetary value. Even a simple ‘thank you’ can mean so much to a teacher and costs nothing.
“I think we sometimes forget the very real hardships facing many families at this time and no child should be put in an awkward position because their family is struggling financially.
“You only have to look at the number of people using foodbanks here to appreciate the very real challenges which many families will face this year to make Christmas special for their children.
“One of our teachers had cause to visit a house last year just before Christmas. Even though both parents were working they were low earners and as a result that family didn’t even have the money for a Christmas tree. Every single penny was accounted for in order to cover heating and food to keep them going over the holiday.
“That is the reality for too many people in our communities and sadly not enough of us realise that.
“No-one wants to put a damper on Christmas but with finances as tight as they are it’s about priorities and inclusivity so no child feels stigmatised because of their family income.
“When it comes to Christmas presents, as far as teachers are concerned, it really is the thought that counts!”