Social media has played a huge – and often controversial – role in this general election campaign, and Twitter has been at the centre of many of the biggest pronouncements, accusations and gaffes.
But the subjects of education, teachers and schools are rarely felt to be worthy of a tweet by party leaders, judging by a "dispiriting" analysis of Twitter posts.
The analysis looked at everything tweeted out by the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Plaid Cymru, Brexit Party and Scottish National Party over a period of nearly three weeks – between 11-28 November.
During that time, it was found that there was just one mention of "teacher" by any of the leaders – Jeremy Corbyn, who tweeted a video of a teacher criticising Boris Johnson's school funding claims.
Watch this teacher react to Boris Johnson's comments last night. pic.twitter.com/odi7iF6Fmd— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 20, 2019
By contrast, the party leaders posted a combined 19 tweets about police, nine about nurses and five about doctors during the same period.
There were also 24 tweets mentioning "schools", consisting of:
- 15 from Conservative leader Boris Johnson.
- 5 from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
- 2 from Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.
- 1 from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley.
- 1 from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Overall, out of 764 tweets analysed by data visualisation company Zegami, "education" made up just 1 per cent of tweets, while 18 per cent were on Brexit, 10 per cent covered the NHS, 3 per cent were on taxes and 2 per cent were about the police.
Of the eight tweets mentioning education, four were from Jeremy Corbyn, three were from Boris Johnson and one was from Green Party co-leader Siân Berry.
Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, said: “It is a dispiriting sign of the importance that the party leaders attach to education, schools and teachers that they have paid so little attention to these vital issues in their tweets.
"This is only one strand of their campaigning activity of course, but social media is such a significant means of communication that one would have hoped they would have used the opportunity to show that education is a priority.
"Brexit was always going to dominate this election, but it is disappointing that the party leaders have not paid more attention to schools and teachers during the course of the campaign. We hope that whoever is prime minister on Friday will immediately affirm that education is a key priority over the next five years.”
Overall, Jeremy Corbyn sent the most tweets during the period concerned – 219, compared with just 40 by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price.