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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 00:45 GMT
Festive surprises for teachers
A teacher's Christmas present
Teachers receive some unexpected Christmas gifts
Underwear, a pillow case and a brooch made of pasta rank among the stranger Christmas gifts teachers have received from pupils, according to a survey.

Almost a quarter of teachers say they would rather receive a home-made gift than flowers or candles.

And the survey of 1,000 teachers conducted by the Times Educational Supplement suggests that ornaments are among the least wanted gifts.

But some teachers reported receiving gifts from pupils worth over 100.

Teachers were split on the idea of receiving chocolates or sweets, which were the third most wanted and the second least popular Christmas gift.

But alcohol was the top choice for male teachers and second most popular for women.


The survey, which asked about presents received last year, suggested some teachers were more likely to receive presents than others - with secondary language teachers almost twice as likely as English teachers to receive no presents at all.

Card, note or drawing: 27%
Wine, champagne, spirits: 15%
Chocolates or sweets: 14%
Flowers or plant: 4%
And while nine out of 10 primary teachers said they had received gifts worth more than 1, only six in 10 secondary teachers could say the same.

Just two thirds of secondary teachers said they received a gift, compared to almost all primary school teachers (97%).

Teachers in London tended to receive the most expensive gifts, with an average estimated cost of their most expensive gift being 17.

However, teachers in the north east of England were most likely to receive presents overall.

'Best teacher'

The survey reveals that some gifts can leave teachers facing an awkward predicament.

Wine, champagne, spirits: 21%
Card, note or drawing: 19%
Chocolates or sweets: 6%
Books: 5%
Secondary maths teacher Rebecca Heath received a pair of bright red "Hello Kitty" knickers from a pupil - but she said she was less offended by the choice of underwear than by the size, which was too large.

Another teacher reported receiving flavoured condoms.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Mick Brookes, said he kept a bear sporting the slogan "My Best Teacher" in his office, but the most generous present he had ever received was a brace of pheasants - complete with the lead shot.

And Mary Bousted of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said she had once received a pair of light bulbs from an 11-year-old pupil after she said she had been unable to mark homework because the lights had failed in her study.


Some teachers have been told they must register the receipt of more expensive gifts.

Ornaments: 19%
Chocolates or sweets: 15%
Perfume, aftershave, bubblebath or soap: 8%
Leicestershire County Council has said teachers must log anything more than the standard box of chocolates or bottle of wine, to avoid any expectation of preferential treatment on the part of parents.

And the National Union of Teachers said it would be a "precautionary measure" to mention an expensive gift - though not a requirement.

Chocolates or sweets: 9%
Ornaments: 7%
Socks, ties, gloves, scarves: 6%
A spokeswoman said: "Something that is out of the ordinary in terms of cost would be a very good idea to log with the head teacher.

"If you were suddenly presented with a cruise, you would wonder why."

But she said it would be wrong to stop pupils giving presents altogether.

No more sherry for Miss?
20 Dec 04 |  London

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