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Fake tan, a plastic snake, pebbles and a used school mug are just some of the more unusual gifts teachers in Newcastle claim to have received from their students at Christmas. One teacher, who wasn’t a dog owner, even reported receiving a dog collar from a student.

The unusual gifts were revealed in a recent survey by Newcastle-based supply teacher agency PK Education.

Three quarters (75%) of teachers surveyed also said they agreed with the practice of pupils giving gifts at Christmas, although nearly a third (32%) have never received a gift. Those that had stressed that a ‘thank you’ was every bit as appreciated as extravagant gestures such as concert tickets, expensive wine and even £100 in gift vouchers as reported having been received by some teachers.

One teacher said: “A ‘thank you for teaching me, Miss,’ is much appreciated. I’ve been given a half-used biro and an almost empty lip gloss before and treasured them just as much as the more expensive gifts because they were given with the same sentiment.”

If you are thinking of buying a teacher a gift this year to show your appreciation, then chocolate is right at the top of their wish list (45%), followed by gift vouchers (39%) and flowers (26%).

Lee Carpenter, Director of PK Education, said: “These results show that there really is no need to go overboard and spend large amounts on teachers at Christmas. A verbal ‘thank you’ or a token gift which is either handmade or costs only a few pounds is more than acceptable and appreciated. We have found that giving expensive gifts can make teachers feel uncomfortable.”

With a shock NUT/YouGov survey revealing that more than half (*53%) of all teachers considering leaving the profession in the next two years, the PK Education Christmas gift survey also asked teachers what their Christmas wish for education would be.

Overwhelmingly respondents said it would be for the freedom to teach and the removal of targets, data and assessments. One teacher said: “Let teachers get on with educating and not just teaching to tests and targets.” Another commented: “More emphasis to be placed on what goes on in the classroom and less on providing data on pro formas that don’t always fit every subject.”

Recent research suggests that teachers are working anything up to 60 hours a week, and the top reasons for wanting to leave the profession included ‘volume of workload’ (61%) and ‘seeking a better work/life balance’ (57%). Many teachers leaving permanent roles are instead choosing to take up supply work, which PK Education reports is helping to retain the skills and experience of teachers.

Established in 2005, PK education is a leading teaching and support staff supplier with four regional offices in the North East, South Yorkshire, East Midlands, and the West Midlands. If you are interested in supply teaching opportunities visit www.pkeducation.co.uk

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