Back in May, I was excited to happen across a blog post from Education Software Solutions that made very interesting reading. ESS is the current developer of SIMS (School Information Management System) which is the most widely used database in UK schools, with a market share across the primary and secondary sectors of over 80%. The post stated:

Following requests from a significant number of schools and extensive consultation we have cosmetically relabelled the ‘gender’ field within the user interface to ‘sex’. This is the area where schools will enter a pupil’s sex, as recorded on their birth certificate or gender recognition certificate. (…) There is also a completely optional data item for ‘Pronoun(s)’. This enables schools who opt in for this functionality to record a pupil’s or staff member’s preferred personal pronouns. We have also further enhanced existing functionality to adopt the new data fields within the register, marksheets, reporting and bulk update.

This had the potential to positively impact so many young lives, but against the current climate I held my breath and waited… And this week, the update dropped and it was better than I’d dared to hope.

The new Personal Pronouns functionality in SIMS means that personal pronouns can be chosen by pupils, staff and any other people linked with their school’s database. Once applied to an individual in SIMS, a suffix of their specified personal pronoun is displayed in bold text at the top of their record.

Not only have ESS listened to schools to implement this component, but they’ve come in with a default list of an amazing 9 pre-populated pronouns – not just he, she and they. The default list is as follows:

  • He / Him / His / His / Himself
  • She / Her / Her / Hers / Herself
  • They / Them / Their / Theirs / Themselves
  • Zie / Zim / Zir / Zis / Zieself
  • Sie / Sie / Hir / Hirs / Hirself
  • Ey / Em / Eir / Eirs / Eirself
  • Ve / Ver / Vis / Vers / Verself
  • Tey / Ter / Tem / Ters / Terself
  • E / Em / Eir / Eirs / Emself

And for anyone whose pronouns aren’t included as standard, there is also an option to add additional pronoun sets to the database, that can them be applied to someone’s personal details.

Unfortunately, schools are still stuck with just binary male and female options under the “sex” field, which is due to government returns and reporting needs. This is something we believe is worth campaigning for, and we will do some work around it. However, the change above regarding pronouns is a big step forwards in respecting people’s identities and working towards making schools as inclusive and safe for LGBT+ pupils as possible.