An Post go Nuts for Sales to Schoolchildren.
September 8, 2009 by Joe Fogarty
The first week of the new school year and another letter from a Marketing Manager – this time from An Post asking teachers to promote their Cyril the Squirrel savings scheme which they assure us is easy to set up and maintain.
While secondary schools may have to contend with AIB looking to “build” branches in their schools, Irish primary schools are not immune to financial orientated marketing schemes. An Post – the State owned post office – appear determined to reach children from 5 – 12 in school and to avail of teachers as salespeople for their initative.
The unsolicited letter which arrived in schools in the first week of September 2009 states: “We will provide a Post Office Savings Card for every pupil to track the growth of their savings. We will also send a ledger for the teacher or savings administrator (!!!!) to monitor the class’s proress. Simply purchase €1 savings stamps in your local Post office for your pupils to buy on a designated “savings” day each week”.
To order Cyril the Squirrel savings material for the school teachers may call An Post or visit their website www.savingwithcyril.ie.
To entice schools to foist this scheme on their students there is an application for the “National Young Savers Awards” where 12 schools who return the completed entry form before November 6th 2009 could win a share of the €30,000 prize fund.
While regular saving is a laudable habit for children to develop it is emphatically NOT the role or function of a primary school teacher to distribute savings cards, sell savings stamps for any financial institution or monitor which children are saving the most. The mention of a “savings administrator” to track the money collected indicates just how far removed from the busy reality of teachers’ work these marketers are. The implications for teaching time, social pressure on children and economic strain on parents are ignored as An Post lazily seek teachers to put their agenda above that of the school children.
The inducement to participate by way of a prize fund perhaps shows some awareness that teachers have no business selling stamps or hosting “savings days” each week. The application form asks teachers to inform the marketers as to how many classes/children are participating, how often they are asked to puchase the stamps and how many are purchased on average each week. Again this kind of information regarding pupils specific savings habits is not the concern of their school and should not be passed on (as is suggested) to “Marketing Department, An Post….”
The Campaign for Commercial-Free Education urges all schools not to participate in this scheme, to teach the benefits of saving as per the Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum and to allow An Post pay their own staff to sell savings stamps on their own premesis,