Gifts for Teachers from Pupils/Parents/ Guardians – What is Acceptable?

Giving gifts to teachers is a time-honoured tradition in the UK. But what is acceptable, and what crosses a line? Read this guide to find out.

Pupils have always delighted in giving their teacher or LSA a little gift at Christmas and often at the end of the academic year. This has, over the years, become an accepted practice as a token of appreciation.

However, sometimes gifts from students and parents can be a bit much or can even put teachers in a difficult position. It may even contradict your school’s Gifts and Hospitality Policy.

In this post, our experts look at what gifts are acceptable, what your school policy dictates, and how to communicate your policy to teachers, pupils and guardians.

Accepting gifts from pupils or parents/guardians

Small teacher gifts and tokens of appreciation are always welcomed. However, times have changed, and these little tokens are becoming more lavish; there now seems to be an increasing trend for parents/guardians to collaborate by having a collection to purchase one large item or present the teacher with a monetary gift such as an Amazon gift card or even cash.

Unfortunately, this puts your staff in an awkward position as it is likely to contravene your Gifts and Hospitality Policy.

Pupil giving gift to teacher

What does your gift policy say?

Every school/academy must have a Gifts and Hospitality Policy and accompanying Register where gifts received (and given) are recorded. This may be found in your Code of Conduct, depending on your school.

The wording of that policy is likely to be along the lines of ‘Staff and governors/trustees can accept gifts and hospitality which are small tokens with a value of £30 or less, without relevant approval and these do not need to be recorded in the school’s Gifts and Hospitality Register. If the gift is more than just a token, it should be politely and courteously declined.’

Staff must have the prior written approval of the Headteacher to accept something which has more than this value which, in any event, should only be in exceptional circumstances; the Headteacher or any governor/trustee must have the prior written approval of the Chair of Governors.

In any case, the following must never be accepted:

  • Cash or monetary gifts offered directly or to a husband, wife, partner, family member or friend of a family member of staff or governor
  • Lavish or extravagant gifts or hospitality, even if they relate to activities taking place outside of working hours

How to communicate about appropriate gifts for teachers

There are two things you should do if your teachers have been offered a gift:

  • Update your policy to include wording that states: ‘If parents/guardians form a collective in order to present a member of staff with a gift, that is acceptable as long as the individual contributions do not exceed the relevant token amount. Such gifts must be recorded in the Register and their acceptance ratified by the relevant approver.’ Remember that this wording must be approved by the entire governing body/board of trustees.
  • Parents/guardians cannot be expected to know they are doing wrong unless you tell them. So, notify your parents/guardians that staff are bound by the rules on accepting gifts and hospitality in the school’s own policy and that cash or monetary gifts are not permitted.

Final thoughts on good gifts for teachers

It is only natural that students and parents want to express their appreciation for the great work that your teachers have done. However, crossing a line, even if well-intentioned, is uncomfortable for everyone involved.

In order to avoid this tricky situation, it is imperative that you communicate about gifts for teachers in good time before Christmas, to save the embarrassment of your staff from having to refuse a well-meaning gift and your parents/guardians from putting them in that position.