I’m a school secretary – 3 gifts NOT to get teachers including the pricey blunder which could start WW3 in playground | The Sun

WHEN it comes to Christmas it's hard working out what to buy your kid's teacher.

A box of biccies? What about if they’re on a diet? 

Or a voucher? No. Too impersonal.

Now Fabulous’ long-running star columnist – the hugely popular – Secret School Secretary – who works at a school in Yorkshire, has come to all parents’ aid. 

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous she revealed exactly what teachers want – and what leaves them flinching in the staff room.

Primary school kids

Parents of primary aged children have it much easier. One teacher equals one gift. 

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However, once the little darlings reach secondary school, the decisions start: Do you buy for their form tutor, favourite teacher, or do you buy a multitude of smaller gifts?

And how do you know that the gift you do eventually choose will be appreciated?

There are a couple of Dos and Don’ts of gift buying for school staff that it is wise to abide by.

  1. Do make gifts generic, unless the gift is staying in school. A personalised pencil case is one thing, but no one wants to be drinking out of ‘Mrs Smith is the Best Teacher Ever’ shot glass on a Saturday night.
  2. Don’t get anything too expensive, you don’t want to start a ‘my present is better than yours’ war with other parents – things could get tricky in the playground.
  3. Think carefully about who the gift is for; toiletries are tricky because unless you are buying – for an elderly teacher, cheap perfume can smell like you’re in a care home trying to mask the scent of wee.

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The five gifts teachers will actually want:


And lots of it.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a newly opened notepad or pack of Post-It notes.

Plus, no matter how many pens you have, when it comes to needing one, there’s always someone who’s nicked it from your desk. 


This is the only time when the gift of a mug is acceptable.


And by the same token, food of most descriptions. Teachers are known to be rather gannet-like in their pursuit of food.

Anything up for grabs in the secretary’s office or canteen leftovers is fair game for us school staff.

Plants… but not flowers. 

Flowers are too personal, too intimate, to be given out willy-nilly.

Plus, give them to the wrong person (your favourite male, rugby-playing, PE teacher perhaps) and they may never live it down in the staff room. 

Plants, on the other hand, will grow and be a reminder of that student for potentially years to come. Tip: if you get a hardy plant it will cope with the times it’s forgotten and left at school over the holidays!

Anything personalised

It can make a teacher’s whole year if they know the gift has been personally chosen rather than grabbed in a 3-for-2 deal at Boots.

Simply a card or note with something personal from the student will make their day. 

After all, the reason teachers get into the profession is to enhance children’s lives – what better gift is there than to tell your teacher how well they’re doing?

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Of course, alcohol would normally be quite high up on the list of things teachers will use, especially when it comes to the end of term (let’s be honest here, by most weekends), but as that’s a no-no for being brought into school by minors, we’ll have to leave that one.

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