It's the thought that counts at Christmas, say teachers
FAMILIES should never feel obliged to buy Christmas presents for teachers, a union leader has said.
Avril Hall Callaghan, general secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU), also said children should not feel embarrassed because they have nothing to give staff.
She was speaking after a school in England capped Christmas gifts at £50.
With shops full of `best teacher ever' cards and gifts, she said, parents may feel pressure to buy something, especially if other parents are doing so.
"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," Ms Hall Callaghan said.
"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."
Ms Hall Callaghan said many families face very real hardships at Christmas.
"No child should be put in an awkward position because their family is struggling financially," she said.
"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."