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How do you call the headmaster in email?

(38 Posts)
gcsepanicmum Mon 16-Nov-20 00:04:27

I had to write an email to the headmaster. I wrote 'Dear Mr xxxx' and signed my full name. He replied to me 'Dear (my first name) and signed his first name. Should I take it as an invitation to call him by his first name or should I stick to the initial form I used which will be 'Mr xxxx'?

He didn't say, 'call me (his first name)' so I feel it's a bit too cheeky of me to jump into following his suit. I wouldn't like to sound too cold, but I would like to sound as polite as possible. We are discussing some issues at school.

I need to write a reply soon. Can anyone give me advice, please? I really appreciated it.

OP’s posts: |
Bikingbear Mon 16-Nov-20 00:07:06

I'd call him by his first name, you are an adult / equal not a child.

SionnachRua Mon 16-Nov-20 00:07:14

I'd consider that an invitation to call him by his first name. Certainly whenever I send an email like that to parents that's the intention. Having said that if they continue with Ms X I won't be offended, so don't worry about it too much.

Mapless Mon 16-Nov-20 00:07:31

He is attempting to sound less formal. However I would still respond Dear Mr XX. This is how I've always emailed school staff. We refer to ourselves by our first names but to others by their surname.

Bridecilla Mon 16-Nov-20 00:08:11

I stop using names in replies - just a 'hi' or 'hello' does

AlwaysLatte Mon 16-Nov-20 00:08:35

I'd still go Mr surname.

Changethetoner Mon 16-Nov-20 00:09:18

I'd keep things formal and use Dear Mr Hissurname. But I'm over a certain age, and would also want him to call me Mrs Changethetoner.

HeddaGarbled Mon 16-Nov-20 00:10:09

Yes, if he’s signed off with his first name, that’s your invitation to shift to first names.

ShipOfTheseus Mon 16-Nov-20 00:10:42

I would use Mr.

Lucked Mon 16-Nov-20 00:11:57

I don’t use any address in replies, as it is carrying on the same conversation. Given that he signed off with his first name I would use that in my signature.

Pipandmum Mon 16-Nov-20 00:12:31

When I was being thanked for volunteering or for something positive it was my first name and his. When my son was getting detention it was 'Mrs X'. I don't know him on a personal level. I don't know their teachers. It's a formal relationship. It's always Miss, Ms, or Mr etc. It's a sign of respect and I'm surprised he wrote to you so informally.

PastMyBestBeforeDate Mon 16-Nov-20 00:12:43

I'd go with Mr xxxx.

DobbinReturns Mon 16-Nov-20 00:15:20

I would probably avoid it by thanking for the reply etc.
Otherwise I would stick with Mr Surname, hopefully you'll never need to, but if you get into a complaints type situation, it all gets very awkward when it reverts to surname terms (BTDT)

Hardbackwriter Mon 16-Nov-20 00:20:23

I actually think it's slightly rude not to use the way someone has signed themselves, so I would follow his suit and use his first name. The only reason I wouldn't is if I wanted to make a point that I wanted to be called by my title and surname, in which case I'd use that for him and sign myself off in that way. But I think that would always come off as a deliberate snub, so I'd only do it if I intended it as such!

gcsepanicmum Mon 16-Nov-20 00:29:56

I would normally carry on Mr Surname. However, when my DC joined the school I was told they would call each other by first name with everyone. Apparently it's their way of showing everyone was equal. A problem is the leadership has changed twice since then and each time the system changed quite a bit so I am not sure if the thing is still there. I thought about it when I wrote my first email. But I felt a bit awkward to sound so friendly when I didn't know him very well. So I called him Mr Surname. But now he calls me by my first name and signed off with his first name. So half of me wanting to stick to my usual safer, more polite form, but half of feel it might come across rude not to follow his suit. confused

OP’s posts: |
gcsepanicmum Mon 16-Nov-20 00:32:07

Sorry for the typo. 'Half of me feeling...'

OP’s posts: |
Constance1 Mon 16-Nov-20 00:59:27

Definitely use his first name - why wouldn't you when he is using yours and he has signed off with his first name. You are not one of his pupils, you can just correspond adult to adult surely?

katy1213 Mon 16-Nov-20 01:07:04

It's rude and unprofessional of him to have called you by your first name without invitation. If it bothers you, pull him up on it. If it doesn't, you need have no compunction about calling him Dave.
Hate this fake palliness though.

Ericaequites Mon 16-Nov-20 03:45:38

I had graduated from high school twenty years ago, and ran into a former teacher at a Quaker convention. I called her Miss X. She replied, “I’m Mrs. Y now, but you should call me Connie.”
It’s sometimes hard to use first names with authority figures.
Use the head’s first name because that’s how he referred to himself.

teezletangler Mon 16-Nov-20 06:57:49

He signed off with his first name, of course you should use his first name. It would be weird not to. You're both adults for goodness' sake.

DH is a teacher and emails with parents every day. He quibbles over these things too, but he really dislikes it when people persist in being formal.

Hardbackwriter Mon 16-Nov-20 07:11:36


It's rude and unprofessional of him to have called you by your first name without invitation. If it bothers you, pull him up on it. If it doesn't, you need have no compunction about calling him Dave.
Hate this fake palliness though.

If she signed off 'Jessica Jones' then I think that is invitation - if you want to be called 'Ms Jones' then that's how you should sign yourself. And I don't really understand why two adults would ever address each other using their titles - and in my experience it's increasingly rare that they do.

WitchesSpelleas Mon 16-Nov-20 07:20:00

If in doubt, I always go with the more formal option.

CeeceeBloomingdale Mon 16-Nov-20 07:24:12

The school default is to use titles for teachers and parents. I know the head teacher well as I'm on the PTA so we use first names in emails and conversation unless there are children around and we revert to titles and surnames.

SilkieRabbits Mon 16-Nov-20 08:23:52

I always used Mr whatever term he used which varied between full name, first name, first initial or his initial and some kisses one time (think he'ld been drinking). Just keeps it professional.

Though if he has signed off with his first name its up to you and either is fine.

pastandpresent Mon 16-Nov-20 09:21:51

I just go with whatever is comfortable to me. I don't feel comfortable addressing a teacher with their first name. Some people seems ok with it, but I am not. So even the message is addressed to my first name, I still use mrs/mr.

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