A PRIMARY school teacher will be asking children to call him ‘Miss’ instead of ‘Sir’ after the Christmas break.
Parents have been told that Nathan Upton, a Year Six teacher at St Mary Magdalen’s CofE Primary, Accrington, will return in the new year as Miss Lucy Meadows following a ‘transition’.
Each class has been spoken to about the change by headteacher Karen Hardman who said she was fully in support of Mr Upton’s decision.
Parents said their children had been told by Mr Upton that he had been born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.
The newsletter, which was hand delivered to parents, said: “Mr Upton has made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman after the Christmas break. She will return to work as Miss Meadows.”
In a statement Mr Upton, understood to be in his early 30s, said: “This has been a long and difficult journey for me, and it was certainly not an easy decision to make. I am grateful to governors and colleagues at St Mary Magdalen's for their support.
"I'd now ask for my privacy to be respected so that I can continue with my job, which I'm committed to and which I enjoy very much."
Mrs Hardman said staff at the Devonshire Street school and governors were supportive of Mr Upton.
She said: “We value all our teachers for their hard work and commitment to the education of our children.
“Naturally, we understand that an issue such as this is bound to arouse interest for a short while.
“However, this is a personal matter for our staff member, who has our full support, and we are all working together to ensure it has the least impact on the smooth running of the school.”
A spokesperson for Blackburn Diocese said: “We were made aware of the situation as soon as the school was informed by the teacher of his decision.
“Since then we have been in close and constant discussion with the school governors, headteacher and local education authority to advise on how the matter should be handled, particularly from the point of view of the pupils, as well as parents and teachers.”
Parents at the school had mixed reactions to the news.
Father-of-three Wayne Cowie voiced his concerns about the effect on his children and the confusion it will cause.
He said: “I didn’t think I’d need the birds and the bees talk with my sons until they were at high school and now they are coming home asking about transvestites.
“My lad is very confused and upset about it. He should have taken a couple of years off to sort himself out.”
One child, who currently has Mr Upton as his class teacher, said it would be strange calling him a new name next year.
He said: “It will feel very strange calling him Miss Meadows. He told us he was going to become a girl after Christmas. Me and my friends were left confused and people kept asking him lots of questions.”
One 10-year-old girl, who said she may have Miss Meadows from next year, said: “He spoke to us and said he’s going to be changing into a woman and wearing women’s clothes after Christmas. We were all a bit shocked. He said he’s going to totally change his appearance.”
A grandmother, collecting her seven-year-old granddaughter from the school, said: “It has been handled very sensitively by the school and I think it’s a very brave thing for him to do.”
A mum said: “It’s his life, but he can dress as a woman in his own time. It’s just going to confuse the children.”
And another said he should have changed schools.
She said: “I think he should have left St Mary’s and joined another school with his new name for a fresh start.”
Another mum said: “My children are happy. I don’t see anything wrong with it. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. All I care about is my child’s education.”