Leave out the scented candles

The message to pupils is clear: if you want to give your teacher a Christmas present they will adore, avoid buying scented candles at all costs and make something yourself.

In the spirit of seasonal cheer, The TES commissioned a Mori poll of 1,000 teachers in Wales and England to find out what gifts they love - and hate - to get from their pupils.

Touchingly, it found that home-made cards, drawings and letters are in more demand than alcohol.

A fifth of Welsh teachers, and a quarter of all those surveyed, wanted gifts their pupils had made. The Welsh also had a sweeter tooth than most of the English, preferring chocolates (16 per cent) to wine, champagne and spirits (11 per cent).

The presents teachers most hated were shop-bought ornaments such as picture frames, vases and scented candles.

Whether you get a present seems to depend on the subject. The least popular were foreign languages teachers in secondary schools, who were nearly twice as likely as English teachers - and 18 times as likely as primary teachers - to get nothing at all last year.

On average the gifts cost pound;4.30, suggesting that parents and children will spend millions on their teachers this year. If each teacher who received a gift got just one present, the total spend would be pound;1.3 million, and the real figure is likely to be at least 10 times more.

Eight teachers reported receiving individual presents worth more than Pounds 100. For a tenth of the teachers it did not matter what pupils bought them because "it's the thought that counts".

A similar proportion said they either did not expect presents or were not allowed them. Leicestershire council has demanded its teachers record presents they receive in log books.

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