Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Poll: Is it sexist and outdated for pupils to call teachers ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’?

18:55 14 May 2014

Academics say pupils should drop the terms 'Sir' and 'Miss'

Academics say pupils should drop the terms 'Sir' and 'Miss'

School pupils should refer to teaching staff by their first names rather than “sexist” titles such as “sir” and “miss”, academics have said.

Senior education experts say the latter has connotations which make them appear less capable than their male counterparts.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement (TES), Jennifer Coates, emeritus professor of English language and linguistics at Roehampton University, said it was “depressing” that women teachers were given “low status” compared with men in the same roles.

She said: “’Sir’ is a knight, but ‘miss’ is ridiculous, it doesn’t match ‘sir’ at all.”

Education historian Jacob Middleton told TES the different titles, widely used in schools as opposed to terms including “ma’am”, embodied the “massive status disparity and sexism of former years”.

Professor Sara Mills, a discourse researcher at Sheffield Hallam University, said pupils could instead refer to their teachers by their first names.

She said: “Sometimes teachers find that they try to stress the similarities between them, rather than trying to keep as distant as possible.”

However teachers in Suffolk have opposed the move. The headteacher at Holbrook Academy said “too much familiarity can breed contempt” while the leader of Suffolk and Norfolk Initial Teacher Training said it was important “to denote professional distance between the teacher and pupil”.

Geoff Robinson added that the term ‘Miss’ had become so commonly used that previous connotations had been abandoned. “People don’t actually give it a second thought,” he said.

Have your say in our poll or leave a comment below.

Police were deployed to the scene

An armed police officer was called to Kesgrave as a safety precaution after a report was received of an injured dog today.

Jonathon Porritt - Friends of the Earth director by Sizewell A April 1986

Plans for Sizewell C are doomed to “evaporate” in the wake of insurmountable problems that will prevent its intended forerunner at Hinkley Point ever producing electricity, one of Britain’s leading environmentalists has predicted.

Nancy Blackett in sail on the River Orwell. The sailing cutter was restored by Michael Rines, of Maritime Woodbridge, who is well-versed on Arthur Ransome's connection with the Suffolk coast

Arthur Ransome’s tales of boats and adventure - many of which were set in Suffolk - changed the course of children’s literature.


Last week’s article was about Oak Hill, the outstanding property just off Belstead Road on Oak Hill Lane, built in 1860 on a plot of land sold by Peter Burrell of Stoke Park, recaps John Norman, of the Ipswich Society.

Martin Newell has been turning apples into cider

As I recounted last week, of all the home-brew I’ve ever fooled around with, cider has been the biggest challenge, writes Martin Newell.

Gina Long

A Suffolk-based charity auction which has attracted bids from all over the world and raised more than £870,000 since its inception is aiming to break the £1million mark for national and local charities this year.

American tycoon Donald Trump

Fight or flight is fascinating, writes Ellen Widdup.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists

Don't miss


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24