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End of term gifts - What teachers REALLY want

The end of the school year is almost upon us and parents up and down the country are wondering what to buy their child's teachers to say thank you for getting their child through another school year.

Saying thank you to our teachers used to be just that; a child saying thank you as they left the classroom for one last time, occasionally with a homemade card and a box of chocolates.

These days though, teacher 'thank yous' tend to be a bit more, and with most classes having at least one teaching assistant and often two teachers where job sharing has become more popular, saying thank you can become quite expensive.

It can be tricky to know what to buy, chocolates, smellies and alcohol being obvious choices, but is that what teachers REALLY want? I spoke to a few to find out.

Mel, works as a maths teacher, teaching years 1-6.

"I'm always chuffed to get anything, but the cards that don't just write the generic "Thank you teacher" message, always mean more than most. When someone takes time to write a personal message, it makes you feel like all of the hard work has made a difference." She tells me.

"I still have some gifts and cards from way back when I started teaching many moons ago."

Claire, who taught for several years as a secondary school art teacher, recalls having some lovely gifts bought for her.

"My most touching gift was a hand tied posy of flowers from one of my GCSE students garden, accompanied by a beautifully written card. It bought a tear to my eye."

Hazel, a primary deputy head, agrees that a personal touch is nice.

"I would much rather have a card with a personalised message to keep and look back on than generic presents." She tells me.

"I always love a personalised present. A notebook with my name on, bag for life with my name on, pencil case etc, rather than chocolate and wine. The No.1 teacher mugs/teddies are the worst! I know it's the thought that counts, but some things, like mugs, go straight into the staffroom for general use."

Jackie has been a primary teacher for over twenty years and acquired some rather interesting and different gifts.

"I once was given a voucher for an Oxfam goat and one for class resources in Africa, and along with the usual alcohol and mugs, I was also once given gifts that had been stolen!" She remembers.

Like the other teachers, Jackie also likes a personal touch. "I love a thank you card with meaningful/personal words in."

So a personal touch is always gratefully received, but what about whole class collections? are they a no-no or a great idea?

"Most teachers I know really enjoy vouchers from the class as a whole" Mel says "Then you can choose your own reward."

Claire agrees, "As a parent myself now, I always suggest class collections, as I think it's lovely that teachers can choose a treat at the end of the year, and lots of individual presents can be overwhelming sometimes."

"I love a whole class collection because you get something of substance rather than a fiver here and a fiver there." Hazel adds.

Whole class collections are becoming more the norm these days, but as Jackie points out, it's not really about what teachers want, it's what parents want to or are able to give.

"It's a hard and worrying time for lots of people at the moment," she notes "There is a lot of monetary worry going on. It's tricky, as everyone is feeling the pinch."

So really, it doesn't matter how you say thank you, just as long as you do.

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