PARENTS of pupils at an Abingdon school have been told not to spend more than £50 on teachers' Christmas presents.

St Helen and St Katharine school, a private girls' school in Faringdon Road, has written to parents urging them to avoid putting staff in an 'awkward position' by splurging on more expensive gifts that they are not allowed to accept. 

Value of presents from individual pupils has been capped at £50, and there is a complete ban on giving cash of any sum or equivalents such as gift vouchers.

The letter, which was also shared on the school's website, was signed by bursar David Eley and dated November 23.

It stated: "Dear Parents, Please may I draw your attention to our Staff Policy on the giving and receiving of gifts. 

"Although we recognise that staff may receive gifts from students, especially at this seasonal time of the year, there are a number of restrictions that apply as set out in our policy, the most significant of which are shown below.

"We appreciate your understanding in this matter which will avoid placing staff in an awkward position."

The rules were listed as: 

- A gift must not include cash

- No gifts of any kind with a value in excess of £50 may be accepted from an individual student

- No cash equivalent gifts (such as gift certificates or vouchers) in excess of £100 may be accepted from any group of students

- However, non-cash and non-cash equivalent gifts of a value in excess of £100 may be accepted from groups of students, eg a form group.

A senior editor at the Good Schools Guide told Schools Week that the letter was a 'bureaucratic killjoy', and predicted that the £50 figure could pressure parents into spending that much. 

An author told the same news outlet that she would welcome guidance on acceptable levels of gift-giving at schools, however.

A further statement released by bursar Mr Eley clarified: "As a charitable organisation we are obliged to have a policy in this area 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.

"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."