Oh for a goat or a water pump

21st July 2006 at 01:00
Most teachers would like to receive a goat this week.

They say that rather than the usual flowers and alcohol their pupils (or pupils' parents) reward them with for a year's hard work, they would prefer to be given an ethical gift.

A TES survey of 90 teachers reveals that more than half would instead like to receive cows, chickens and lavatories for families in developing countries, as well as books, shoes and any of the basic necessities lacking in struggling communities.

Fifty-seven per cent of teachers said that they would most like to receive a present that benefits children in the developing world - almost 10 times as many as those who want end-of-year standards, such as beauty products or a photo frame. In particular, teachers wanted to have village water-pumps and mosquito nets bought in their name.

John Adams, head of RE at All Saints Catholic comprehensive, in east London, believes that ethical giving helps to avoid the awkwardness of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided end-of-term tributes.

"I generally get beer-related presents," he said. "Pupils seem to think, because I'm a large, stout gentleman, that's what I'll appreciate. It's kind of embarrassing getting gifts from children. You don't like to feel beholden to them.

"If they buy an ethical gift, it's not really for the teacher. It's just a good deed the teacher will appreciate. It takes away the embarrassment factor."

Almost a fifth of those questioned had less altruistic tendencies, saying that they would most like to receive a bottle of wine. Ten per cent said their preferred gift was a box of chocolates.

Margaret Monaghan, head of Year 7 at Archbishop Beck comprehensive, in Liverpool, said that pupils like to feel that they are giving something directly to the teacher.

"Many teachers would be happy with a goat, but that idea would have to be planted beforehand," she said.

"Pupils want to give something personal, to say thank you. We get wine, chocolates, soap sets. One teacher got a Robbie Williams CD. She's in her early 30s, and that's what the parents thought someone in her 30s would like."

The survey showed that two-thirds of teachers receive presents worth between pound;1 and pound;5. A quarter receive presents with a value of pound;6 to pound;10. Ethical gifts tend to start at around pound;12.

Two-thirds of teachers receive between one and 10 presents each year, while almost a quarter receive between 11 and 20 gifts.

www.unicef.org.ukstoreindex.aspxwww.goodgifts.orgHave you ever received an extraordinary end-of-term gift? email us at cymru@tes.co.uk

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