Skip to main content

Should teachers say 'I don't' to marital name changes?

Work is the last thing anyone wants to think about on their wedding day. And yet, as the vows come to an end, there is that moment when the person presiding over the ceremony will present you to your guests in your new, married state. How you want to be referred to at this point requires some thought if teaching is your profession.

Should you take your partner’s name? Should they take yours? Should you both keep your own? Or, as is the fashion nowadays, should you merge the two together and both adopt the result?

“My friends are divided,” writes Katie White in the 3 October issue of TES. “You are officially known by your surname; it’s on books, registers, timetables and letters home to parents. So what happens when you change it?

"Do students feel that you now have a new identity? Would they notice if you suddenly starting wearing a wedding ring but didn’t change your name? What would happen if a male teacher changed his name? In short, what social signals about gender politics are our choices sending out to the children in our care?”

Ms White, an English teacher at Kingsbridge Community College in Devon, conducted research on the issue and found that male teachers had little interest in the topic – a telling sign in itself. As for the students, there were more worrying results.

“They said that men taking their wives’ surnames would demonstrate a weak character, although the reverse would show that women were becoming 'grown-up',” she writes.

This presents a problem for teachers.

“As responsible adults, influencing our students’ lives and opinions, should we be taking a more political stance?” White asks. “Could men take their wife’s name to challenge the perception that this makes them weaker, perhaps, and could women wear a ring but retain their original surname?”

So what’s the answer? You can read White’s conclusions in the 3 October issue, but feel free to give us your views on Twitter (@TES) or in the comments section below.

Read the full article in the 3 October edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you