PARENT groups and charities have backed a campaign calling for a halt to, ‘unnecessary’ gifts for teachers at Christmas.

Parent body Connect said it would be writing to parent councils and parent teacher associations asking them to spread the word that gifts were not required.

Connect said members had told them parents were commonly asked to contribute £10 to a class teacher’s present and if they couldn’t or wouldn’t pay their child’s name would not be put on the card. There were also stories of parents competing to buy the most expensive, stand-out gift or who spent hours crafting a unique homemade offering.

The Child Poverty Action Group said there were “countless” financial demands on families at Christmas, with seemingly small costs for things like teacher gifts putting pressure on families living on low incomes.

The tend has also sparked concern amongst local authorities with Falkirk Council banning teachers from receiving gifts last year. It is also common for teachers who receive items over a certain value, such as £50, to have to declare the gift.

Eileen Prior, executive director of parent body Connect said:”We understand families are really keen to show their appreciation and gratitude to their child’s teachers at Christmas, but this year we are urging parents to think carefully about what they are planning and we are calling on parent councils and parent teacher associations to support parents in this.

“Our recent parent survey on families struggling with financial hardship made it crystal clear that asking parents to contribute to Christmas gifts may inadvertently create real difficulties and pressures.

“We also know that many school communities focus a lot of energy on helping struggling families so we are asking everyone to please reconsider the whole issue of Christmas gifts for teachers. A simple and heartfelt thank you is enough.”

The new campaign has been backed by Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, with teachers increasingly aware of the financial pressure facing many families.

A spokeswoman said: “Schools have been working hard to cut the cost of the school day and to ensure that all children can be involved in all aspects of school life without having to pay.

“Christmas gifts for teachers are simply unaffordable for many families and are unnecessary anyway. School communities will want to keep down the cost of the school day at Christmas-time too so that all children can take full part in the festivities on an equal footing.”

Helen Connor, a recently retired teacher from North Lanarkshire, also backed the campaign, but said the giving of small or personal gifts from pupils was a nice gesture.

She said: “Pupils usually want to give you something and generally it varies between those that make you things, like a bangle, or those who buy a small item like a mug or a packet of sweets to say thank you.

“Those items are cheap and there is nothing wrong with that, but over the last five years it has become more commercialised. If it becomes a competition on who gives the best gift or a whole class collection it starts to become something different.”