Statement in response to The Telegraph article 14th February

Elly BarnesNews

The end of Sir and Miss? Teachers told to drop Gendered Language

The allegations in the article have been made by one person who attended one of our training webinars, their identity is know to our organisation and they attended to deliberately disrupt the session as they hold different beliefs around gender and gender identity. Educate & Celebrate is and always will be a trans inclusive organisation. The attendee was the only person in the webinar to raise any objection. See evaluation comments from other attendees at the end of this statement.

E&C are a well-respected and established charity of experienced teachers, headteachers and academics who have supported hundreds of schools on their journey to LGBT+ inclusion and supported thousands of young people, teachers and parents to feel safe in school regardless of their identity.

Statement 1: Title of article: The end of Sir and Miss? Teachers told to drop Gendered Language.

Educate & Celebrate does not say ‘Don’t use Sir and Miss’, what we say is:

  • The discussion around Sir and Miss relates to conversations about the hierarchical and patriarchal nature of Sir versus Miss; Miss being lower in status, therefore we ask attendees discuss the preference of using Sir and Madam and how we might address non binary staff, do we have language for non binary teachers?
  • To answer this question: Two models were suggested as ways forward to allow all staff to have equal status and move away from being called a generic Sir or Miss.

Therefore, Model A was suggested:

-Ask the pupils to learn your honorific e.g., Mx, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr, Mr etc.

-Model B suggested using ‘Teacher’ followed by your surname or Headteacher followed by your surname. There was no suggestion of eradicating Sir and Miss but rather to choose and discuss a model that would work best on your school

  • E&C webinars are based around discussion and giving suggestions for potential interventions, no attendee is ‘told’ what to do in their school
  • Attendees are advised, not told, to have further discussions with their colleagues and Leadership Teams or seek some time in a staff briefing to begin the conversation

 Statement 2: Section: Gender-free uniforms suggested

  • E&C shows several examples of application forms to ensure that pupils who use a different name to what is on their birth certificate can be added to the school system for transparency
  • Attendees felt boxes offered for only ‘Male’, ‘Female’ and ‘Other’ were not inclusive of everyone, so an example was shown of an application form which had left the gender box blank for people to fill in. This was felt to be more inclusive
  • Many schools have adopted a gender free uniform to reflect the needs of the pupils. For example, a uniform policy could say: pupils in our school can wear grey shorts, grey trousers or grey skirts. In this way pupils have a choice to enable them to be comfortable and ready to work. This is common practice in many schools

Statement 3: Section: The poster listed all the bullet points of characteristics protected under the Equalities Act apart from sex

  • The previous two slides in the presentation talked through the nine protected characteristics, which included sex, as a starting point to your journey to equity, diversity and inclusion
  • The next slide showed an example of a school code which had added more characteristics such as mental health and the languages spoken. This slide also contained the characteristic of sex
  • The example code of conduct was offered as a poster which could be edited with the school’s agreed characteristics to fit their context, as well as advice to add their own school logo to give ownership over their code of conduct
  • It was suggested to put a code of conduct at reception either as a poster, leaflet or electronic sign in to allow visitors to understand and agree to the ethos of your school. This is standard practice when visitors come to a school

Statement 4: Section: Charity ‘undermines children’s safety’

  • E&C protects all children’s safety by ensuring all staff are trained in inclusion
  • E&C does not eradicate the existence of women or any other gender in any of its activities, in fact it does exactly the opposite, as E&C trains teachers and leadership teams to create welcoming environments for all genders.
  • E&C advocates for pronoun use to mitigate against misgendering, this is common practice in many schools and organisations
  • Our aim is to ensure that school leaders and staff are well informed and confident in their approach

Statement 5: E&C says ‘Don’t tell parents’ and ‘Pupils told not to use the words Mum and Dad’

  • Pupils are not told by E&C to not use the words ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’. E&C does advise schools and teachers to use the words Parent/Guardian/Child when sending letters home or addressing their classes. This is common practice in all schools
  • LGBT+ relationships are included in Relationships & Sex Education which became compulsory in September 2020. This is widely documented on the DfE website and in RSE policies visible on most school websites. This information is transparent to parents
  • To support parents further, E&C makes the recommendation to use a survey to collate information about their needs. This enables schools to be much more proactive in providing information regarding any of the protected characteristics so parents can feel confident to continue the conversations with their children at home should they wish

 E&C will continue to support schools and organisations to take an intersectional approach to embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation to save and change the lives of all young people.

Please see our website for further statistics, research and quotes.

Evaluations from other attendees:

All teachers in all schools need this kind of training. It should be essential CPD. Please actively encourage more to engage. Thanks so much from a Mum and teacher whose son has gone through hell from homophobic bullies.

 More reminders needed for schools to embrace fully. Thank you. Very informative.

 Covered a huge amount of information and was still interesting and engaging. Great presenter. Thank you

 Educate & Celebrate Trustees

Building a future of inclusion and social justice