M&S range of alcoholic and sugar-laced end-of-term 'Teacher's Treats' really takes the biscuit
PUBLISHED: 11:34 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:38 21 June 2019
Is it really acceptable for an infant to give their teacher a bottle of wine on the last day of term? Nick Richards thinks a new M&S range of treats for teacher is simply crazy
June and July are strange months in the education business.
I'm not talking about the end-of-term school trips, sports days and exams, I mean the education business as seen through the eyes of canny high street retailers.
I remember the teenage trauma of seeing those Back to School signs in the windows of WH Smith arriving by the end of July above a display of calculators, protractors and felt tip pens when I still hadn't even had the first of six weeks of fun to enjoy.
It felt liked summer was already ticking away.
I've already seen signs with discounted school uniforms ready for September, but that's been surpassed by something that's made my pupils really dilate.
This week I've seen a whole aisle in M&S suggesting 'Teacher's Treats' with the strapline 'Thank their favourite teacher with the perfect gift'.
The very wording indicates this plethora of assorted goodies is not aimed at children but rather their mums and dads.
Yes, while the parents are buying a basket of 'not just any food' in M&S they are supposed to guiltily stumble over this aisle of gifts and drop up to £20 of their hard-earned on an offering so little Danny or Delilah doesn't feel awkward on the last day of term.
And these items aren't just a trivial token of your childrens' affection either, they're calorie-clogging heavyweights that could turn your teacher into a prize summer porker while they're taking a well-earned break from the classroom.
There's a £10 box of Swiss chocolates which racks up 2000 calories, hardly-healthy clotted cream fudge, artery-clogging all butter shortbread and teeth-decaying marzipan spring fruits.
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The irony of children bringing in a whole load of sugar on the last day of term for their teacher isn't lost on me when my six-year-old son has spent the school year learning about healthy eating, cleaning his teeth and having to take part in meat-free Mondays.
Even worse, alcohol figures highly on this M&S agenda with the star item being a bottle of pink sparkling wine with chocolates at £20.
I may be wrong but I can't quite imagine my Year 1 son lugging in four cans of Special Brew in a thin blue and white striped carrier bag for his teacher on the last day and telling him to have a good summer.
I make the point for a bit of fun, but is it really that different? Maybe because it's in M&S in sanitised cutesy form that it's deemed to be OK.
All of this seems way over the top - imagine if every child (or their parents) felt the need to spend £10 on a gift for their teacher. The shops could be making around £250 for every classroom - and think about the car boot of those teachers on their last day. Do they really want to start the summer holidays with this unhealthy bounty tucked away in the back of their hatchback?
When I was at school mainly in the 1980s, this sort of thing didn't exist and I am sure anybody reading this over 60 will be shaking their head with complete disbelief that is does.
Of course I understand there is a market for this kind of thing. Like party bags, Christmas Eve boxes and even Halloween, this has all been ramped up in recent years to a level of commercialism that is quite staggering.
I actually feel more sorry for the teachers who feel obliged to take these offerings when they probably feel incredibly embarrassed to do so.
For they're the ones caught in the middle of a clever marketing ploy between shops like M&S and parents trying to do the right thing.
I appreciate everything my son's teacher and his school's teaching assistants do for him but I won't be handing over a gift on the last day, especially not one from this M&S range.
I think a simple card is the perfect last day of term memento for a teacher from a child.
And as a Dad I'll thank them in person and give my son's teacher a friendly pre-holiday fist bump upon departure.
Well he is 20 years younger than me after all.