Exclusive poll: Teachers back Labour on education

Nearly half of respondents to a Tes survey of nearly 12,000 teachers favour schools' policies put forward by Labour

Charlotte Santry

Election 2019: Most teachers believe Labour has the best education policies, a Tes poll suggests

Teachers are three times more likely to favour Labour's education policies over those of the party's two main rivals, a Tes poll reveals.

This is despite the Conservative Party's high-profile pledge to boost school funding by £7.1 billion and raise starting salaries for teachers to £30,000.

Asked which party had the best education policies, 45 per cent of teachers who responded to the survey said Labour, 13 per cent said the Lib Dems and 11 per cent said the Conservatives.

Exclusive poll: Tories 'drop to third in teacher vote'

Background: Exclusive: School funds no longer key issue, say Tories

Politics: Lib Dems pledge 20,000 more teachers and an extra £10bn

The poll of more than 11,000 teachers was carried out before any of the three main parties had published their manifestos, but many of their education policies had been announced previously.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats want to abolish Ofsted and scrap key stage 2 Sats – two policies that enjoy high levels of support in the profession.

Election 2019: The education battleground

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said: "There are similarities between what the Lib Dems are proposing and what we’ve heard so far from Labour.  Lib Dem promises on funding, pay, CPD and inspection are all eye-catching and will certainly appeal to a lot of teachers and leaders."

The Conservative government has been trying to address schools' teacher retention and recruitment crisis with a more teacher-friendly approach. It has eased up on school accountability and recently announced plans to raise school funding and teacher pay.

Yet the poll findings suggest that these measures have not been enough to sway teachers to vote for the Tories.

The Tes poll shows that 45 per cent of teachers plan to vote Labour next month, with the Lib Dems and Tories attracting 22 per cent and 14 per cent of the teacher vote respectively.

Mr Whiteman said: "It’s not surprising that the Conservatives rank the lowest. Since 2010, teachers and leaders have had to endure significant reforms to the system whilst seeing their workload soar and their pay decrease in real terms. They also feel the heartbreak of the impact this has had on pupils."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said not all of Labour's policies would be universally supported by the profession – for example, the party's “rhetoric” around academisation, including plans to bring academies back under local authority control. The majority of secondary schools are academies, Mr Barton highlighted. 

However, many teachers and headteachers were also “sceptical” about the Conservatives’ recent funding promises, he added.

“For a long time they were in denial that there was a funding crisis, even when heads were marching on Downing Street,” Mr Barton said. “I think people became increasingly frustrated by that.”

The Conservatives believe that their promise of extra billions for schools has done enough to neutralise the issue of school funding among the general public, after it became a negative for the party during the last election.

The party's big funding pledge was rivalled yesterday with a Liberal Democrats manifesto pledge to give schools an extra £10.6 billion by 2024 and increase the number of teachers by 20,000.

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Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry is Deputy news editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @CharlotteSantry

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