It’s only natural to want to show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate the job they are doing in helping your son or daughter develop into an able, confident and knowledgeable young person.

You and your child will probably want to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ at the end of the school term, but it can be confusing knowing just how to express this gratitude. It gets harder still when what is the ‘done thing’ seems to change with each passing school term. The question of gift buying could be seen to have been spiraling out of control when a prestigious private girls’ school felt compelled to contact parents, asking them to cap the value of festive gifts given to teaching staff.

Saying thank you
When it comes to gift buying there are many approaches to take and the gesture should never become an extra burden on stretched parents. Some tips:

Perhaps your child’s teacher supports a particular charity – you could consider making a donation towards it. Or, if the school has a fundraising target, why not let the teacher know you gave a few pounds to the fund in their name?

Try not to feel pressured into contributing lots of money towards a joint present with other parents if you can’t afford to – there’s no shame in being honest about wanting to send a heartfelt, handwritten note or a bunch of fresh flowers, herbs or home-grown tomatoes from your garden instead.

And, thank you is enough
When stories have broken of parents feeling humiliated because they can’t afford to contribute to a significant class-wide gift, teachers have spoken out to reassure parents that they expect nothing and do appreciate a written thank you note. Parents group Connect says a simple and heartfelt ‘thank you’ is enough.

Excessive gifts with the best of intentions run the risk of making teaching staff feel awkward – think twice before offering anything fancy when affordable chocolates are more appropriate.

If still in doubt, contact the school for advice: headteachers and the governing body or local authority decide whether teachers are permitted to receive gifts from students and parents – the Department of Education sets no rules.

To see advice from The Child Poverty Action Group’s and Eileen Prior, executive director of Connect, visit –