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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 16:42 GMT
Goodbye to all tat?
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News Online education staff

Pig dressed as Santa
Would you want this character to come down your chimney?
It looks like a cast member from Animal Farm meets The Exorcist.

But this plastic Santa pig, with its menacing stare and illuminated grin, is intended to be a bringer of Christmas cheer.

He is just one of the horrors endured by teachers as primary school pupils get into the present-giving spirit.

Children up and down the UK are depositing porcelain dogs, guitar-playing harlequins and Bavarian-style carriage clocks on the desks of their long-suffering mentors.

For one teacher, the increase of seasonal schmaltz in recent years has become too much.

Peter, from Birmingham, runs a website to display some of the worst end-of-term offerings.

'I'm grateful...really'

Among the highlights of Cheesygifts4teachers are toilet roll figurines and a golden "pyramid of wonder", which gives a "glance into the life of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs".

Dogs
These dogs are definitely not for life

Peter, who does not want his surname mentioned in case of reprisals from irate parents and pupils, stresses he is not ungrateful.

He said: "The children are always very, very generous and we are always very touched by the wondrous range of presents they bestow upon us.

"It's the thought that counts. It doesn't matter if it's a present that's been made by the child or an expensive bottle of vodka from the local off-licence."

As well as the grinning Santa, Peter's site contains pictures of a fluffy cross-eyed stunt pig sent in by a visitor.

Bacon

So perhaps his favourite gift represents an element of sadism.

Peter said: "The best present I've ever had was a bacon sandwich. One boy made it himself and wrapped it up and brought it in tin foil.

"Many of the pupils know that their teachers like alcohol and tubes of Pringles.

Another pig
Pigs proved a popular choice among pupils

"I know of one school where they once had a shrine of presents in one of the staff toilets."

However, he added: "One of the presents was a small figure of some kind made from a toilet roll and some cotton wool.

"There are some slightly more tacky presents. There was a book of DIY given to one of my colleagues. It was a very, very old book and was absolutely disgusting.

"It had chewing gum and a few human hairs stuck to it. It was the sort of thing you might find on a shelf somewhere in a pub."

Some visitors to Peter's site have complained that he is mocking the children.

But he said: "I was sitting with a few colleagues at the end of one school one day when we came up with the idea.

"The children give their presents because they want to show their appreciation to us.

"The site is not meant to be malicious in any way. If you didn't have a laugh when looking after the education and development of up to 30 kids, you could go mad."


What would you give a teacher for Christmas? - Some of your comments:

I am appalled at the ingratitude of the man. I have spent hours trawling round the shops with my eight year old while he debated which was the best present he could afford with his saved up pocket money - and this at a time when demands are also made on kiddies' money boxes for siblings' and parents' presents. It is an expression of love from the child (and a barometer of popularity) and should not be made an object of amusement for adults.
Shelley, UK

It's difficult to describe this "teacher's" website without swearing. It is certainly NOT funny. What a truly ungrateful and arrogant pig.
Charles Sweeney, Glasgow, Scotland

My dad is a teacher and doesn't tend to get presents from pupils, most likely because he is a secondary-level teacher. I wonder whether primary-level pupils are really expected to consider whether a gift is cheesy or not? As has been commented before, such gifts come from the heart and should not be mocked. If the children were to find out they might feel hurt and betrayed, regardless of Peter's intentions.
Kat, Derby, UK

One year, pupils at our school managed to give THREE teachers in the languages department exactly the same gift - a nervous breakdown!
Lynne A, London

A medal for putting up with parents! When did we become so serious as a nation and lose the ability to poke fun at ourselves, all those who are getting upset, get a sense of humour!
Iain, Scotland

A Scroogy solution to the gifts for teachers problem- over here we aren't allowed to give gifts for fear that we may influence the teacher. I usually sneak something under my coat and hand it to a favourite teacher with the comment that I hope I don't get arrested for this! (From the land of the formerly "FREE")
A mom, USA

A half case of wine and some of the respect they deserve. No, teachers don't finish work at 3.30, no, they don't take 12 weeks holiday a year and yes, without them we'd be nowhere. Respect.
Ollie, UK

A decent salary
Nicholas, Ashford, Kent

Even at Christmas teachers can find something to whinge about. Amazing!!!
Matt, UK

Maybe the children need a lesson in taste ? Isn't that why the teacher is there in the first place ? 'Life skills' are as important as maths. I think detentions all round would be appropriate.
AT, London, UK

What about giving teachers a break! Sure they get lots of holiday. It's needed. My mother is a teacher and gets to work at eight and leaves about five most days after meetings with parents or other staff. She then spends at least three hours each evening marking books or displaying artwork. Weekends are equally busy. As for the presents, some are amusing, some vile and others lovely, but all are appreciated. It shows that even the most awful parents do appreciate what my mother does for their children.
Heather Smith,

As the child of two teachers, I plan to give them a well earned break and cook as many meals for them as possible. I have yet to see them work only 9am-3.30pm, but I have seen them work all evening and weekends marking and preparing classes.
Jane, London

I'd suggest that most of them would like properly funded schools and actual support from some of the parents. It is a shame that it appears that certain readers of this site (a little high-brow compared to your normal tabloid papers surely?) feel the need to constantly bring up the supposed short working hours and long holidays of UK teachers.
Andrew, UK

Leave the teachers' holidays alone.They have to put up with your whiney little brats most of the year. They deserve the long holidays.
Dave W, Bolton

I'd give them a pay rise. Thinking teaching is a 9-3.30 job is complete madness. Most teachers I know get into school just after 8am, don't end up leaving until nearly 6pm, and then do another few hours' work every evening to mark and plan for the rest of the week.
Jon Ellison, Newcastle, UK

Prozac
Ann Cooper, Orpington, UK

A lesson in the three "r"s
David Jones, UK

Surely everyone has had a presents at some time that has offended their personal tastes even while they appreciated the thought. There's nothing wrong with sharing the fun.
John, UK

My lads implored us to find presents for their respective teachers this week - something I considered a bit much for two individuals who get 12 weeks' (and more) holiday each year, finish work at 3.30 every day and are always moaning about how hard done by they are. If it had been up to me, I would have given them NOTHING.
Dave P, UK

How about if for Christmas teachers got a nine-to-five job and only 25 days' holiday a year.
Derek Green, Lancs

I used to be a teacher. I gave it up for a nine-to-five job. My present job is much easier and involves working a lot fewer hours.
Ralph McNeillie, Skelmersdale, Lancs

Danger money.
D C Robinson, Leeds UK

The items on the webpage all look very familiar, as my mum who is a teacher often receives such gifts. However, I find the cheesygifts4teachers site rather distasteful in the way it mocks the presents, as in my mum's case many of the children who attend her school and buy her Christmas gifts are not well off and obviously spend a lot of money on such gifts. Maybe instead of mocking the gifts, the creator of the site should take the unwanted gifts to a local charity shop or sheltered housing organisation because other people may appreciate them.
Dudley, Norwich

I think they should keep this quiet, otherwise the taxman will say it's a benefit in kind and tax them on it.
Colin, Swindon, UK

I know what I'd like to give the teacher who dreamt up this particular web site! Unbelievable, these are children of, what, primary school age? I cherish every misshapen cotton wool snow man or Santa Claus that my little boy makes me at nursery school. Speaks for itself that he doesn't want his surname published I think. Tell you what kids, next year - give him [nothing].
Paul, Hatfield, UK




SEE ALSO:
Firms 'play Scrooge at Christmas'
19 Dec 03  |  Business
Christmas cracker insults backfire
14 Dec 03  |  England


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