Stolen car radios, thongs and bags of potatoes

teacher in classroom

More than 1,200 teachers and teaching assistants revealed what they would really like as an end-of-year gift. They were questioned for a Mumsnet survey, which also lists some of the stunningly bad gifts teaching staff actually received.

It's the end of the school year and finally time for teachers to wave goodbye to their charges and sit back with those fancy bottles of wine received as thank you gifts. Or not. Apparently, when it comes to presents, teachers and teaching assistants are used to getting some rather questionable items. Half-eaten box of chocolates anyone?

These gifts (we use the term loosely) were the strangest received by teachers.

  • A bag of potatoes
  • Jewellery “which I'm sure was stolen for me”
  • A regifted reed diffuser from the Christmas raffle (“I know because I’d put the raffle ticket on it”)
  • An opened, part-drunk bottle of wine
  • A “Plan Your Wedding” book (“I was in no way close to getting married”)
  • A thong
  • A stolen car radio in a carrier bag
  • A box of half-eaten chocolates
  • Lube
  • Aftershave (“I’m female")

According to the survey, what teachers and teaching assistants really want is something personal – and cost-free. Nearly-two thirds (64%) say they would like a heartfelt personal note from their pupils, while 57% say they would love to receive the same from parents or carers.

Almost half (47%) say they value any present, but 77% worry that parents or carers may feel pressured into contributing to a whole-class gift and 68% worry about children feeling left out if their parents can’t afford to contribute. That said, 32% of teachers or teaching assistants say they love to receive gift vouchers and 30% say that wine or spirits are also welcome.

End-of-term can be a bonanza for charity shops, with almost two thirds (62%) of those who have received unwelcome gifts saying they donate some of them to charity, while 42% say some are re-gifted. Just 11% say they put unwanted presents in the bin – although one person admitted they forward unwanted gifts, without postage, to a former partner.

Mumsnet Founder, Justine Roberts said: “This feels like a classic gifting struggle: hassled parents trying to do the nice thing but not at all sure what to give (and occasionally going very wrong indeed), and teachers inwardly quaking at an avalanche of scented candles and wishing they could have something cost-free and personal. The ideal solution seems to be a low-pressure class collection for a voucher and a scrapbook full of messages from the small people concerned.”

Read the full data from the 2018 Mumsnet survey on thank you presents for teaching staff.