School bans expensive gifts after parents gift teachers designer handbags and dinners at Michelin-star restaurants

The school said the policy had been in place for quite some time but that a letter was sent out to clarify the rules once again to parents who kept buying teachers extravagant gifts


                            School bans expensive gifts after parents gift teachers designer handbags and dinners at Michelin-star restaurants

An independent girls' day school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has been forced to enforce a limit on the gifts being brought in for the teachers after it emerged that parents were spending exorbitant amounts on them. The administration at the St. Helen and St. Katharine school has imposed a £50 ($64) spending limit on teacher presents because they were being gifted Mulberry handbags and gift vouchers for meals at Michelin-starred restaurants.

According to the Mirror, the limit was brought in because the school felt that these generous gifts were putting their staff in an "awkward position."  The school, which charges parents £5,490 ($7,016) a term and boasts businesswoman Samantha Cameron amongst its alumni, also announced it would ban parents from giving gift vouchers with a value above £100 ($127).

The school has imposed a $64 limit on gifts for teachers (Source: SHSKComms/Wikipedia)
The school has imposed a $64 limit on gifts for teachers (Source: SHSKComms/Wikipedia)

However, while the policy is making the news around social media now, it has reportedly already in place for a number of years. A letter was sent out recently to clarify the rules to parents who continued to shower the teachers with extravagant gifts, with Bursar David Eley suggesting that the rule was necessary because of their status as a charitable organization and to "ensure strong governance."

"Our staff policy has been in place for a number of years and no concerns have ever arisen over this matter," he was quoted saying. "We have issued a letter to parents to provide clarity and to prevent placing staff or parents in an awkward position. We have a great relationship with our parent body and a powerful sense of community which is built on this kind of transparency/clarity."

The Mirror reports that the normal price tag for teacher gifts in the country is between £5 ($6) and £20 ($26), with even the £50 ($65) limit concerning some. Janita Gray, a senior editor at the Good School Guide, was one of them and said she was concerned parents would now feel £50 was the normal going rate for a present.

The Woodchurch High School banned pupils from sporting expensive coats and jackets last month (Source: Google Maps)
The Woodchurch High School banned pupils from sporting expensive coats and jackets last month (Source: Google Maps)

There were teachers who felt that even a £10 ($13) would be far too much to spend, with one writing on parenting website Mumsnet, "I'd be mortified if every parent thought they had to spend £10 on me, over the class that would be £300," adding, "The thing I appreciate most is a note in the Christmas card to say their child is happy and settled."

The policy is not the first of its kind to make headlines either. According to LADbible, it was just last month that the Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead banned its pupils from sporting expensive designer coats and jackets to curb "poverty shaming." The decision was met well by parents, who felt the move could help reduce bullying and reduce the pressure of having to buy expensive stuff for their children so they "fit in."