Scrap use of 'Sir' and 'Miss' and adopt gender-neutral language, teachers told

15 February 2022, 6:31

Schools have been given advice to be more gender neutral. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Teachers have been encouraged to drop the use of gendered language such as "Sir" and "Miss" and instead opt for gender neutral terms such as "teacher".

In a lecture organised by the National Education Union (NEU), Dr Elly Banes, chief executive of the Educate & Celebrate charity, said schools should aim to become more gender neutral - a model she said was "working very well" in a lot of schools.

Dr Barnes said teachers should be referred to as "teacher" or "headteacher", followed by their surname.

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The advice was not just limited to teachers, with the charity executive also saying "head boy" should be replaced with "head pupil" and the word "parent" should be used instead of "mother".

Dr Barnes also said the gender question on school application forms should be "left open" and said uniforms should be gender-free, and teachers should ask students what their preferred pronouns are when they first meet.

She said the changes should be listed on a "code of conduct" at the school's reception that listed all characteristics protected under the Equalities Act - apart from sex - and said people should not be allowed on the premises if they did not agree with the code.

But not everyone is convinced by the plans.

One of the lecture attendees pointed out teachers were not offended by the use of terms "Sir" and "Miss", saying they are only words used to "get your attention".

Another attendee said the lecture was "propaganda for trans activists" that aimed to "erase" women and girls - and said people would take it as fact because it was organised by the NEU.

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Educate & Celebrate has faced criticism before, after it told teachers they did not need to tell parents if a child said they were transgender.

The charity, which says it works with trans children as young as three, has previously received funding from the Department for Education.