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

Teacher support for Conservatives has fallen since 2017 election, while Lib Dems' popularity has risen, Tes poll reveals

Election 2019: Fewer teachers are planning to vote Conservative than did so in the 2017 general election, a Tes poll suggests

The Labour Party is set to win the biggest share of the teacher vote in next month's general election while the Conservatives will fall one place into third, according to a Tes poll.

The Tories were the second most popular party in 2017 among nearly 12,000 teachers surveyed. But the poll shows the party will drop behind the Liberal Democrats when teachers cast their votes on 12 December.

One in five of the teachers who took part in the survey – 19 per cent – voted for the Conservatives two years ago, but only 14 per cent intend to vote for the Tories next month.

More than half of respondents – 53 per cent – voted Labour in the 2017 general election, but a slightly smaller proportion – 49 per cent – plan to do so on 12 December.

Meanwhile, support for the Liberal Democrats has risen, with 22 per cent of teachers planning to vote for the party this time around – up from 15 per cent in 2017.  Other findings suggest that the party's support for Remain may be behind its surge among teachers.

One in 10 respondents was undecided.

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said many in the profession were sceptical about all three parties, on the basis that they had failed to tackle the longstanding problems of school funding shortages and the recruitment and retention crisis.

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"A lot of people are left feeling frustrated that all the parties in power haven't addressed the biggest problems for teachers," he said.

Asked to name the biggest factor influencing the teacher vote, the biggest proportion of respondents – 37 per cent – said Brexit, followed by education policies at 23 per cent, the NHS at 16 per cent, choice of prime minister at 13 per cent and economic competence at 11 per cent.

The vast majority of respondents – 79 per cent – had voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum. This is broadly consistent with a 2016 YouGov poll showing that teachers had overwhelmingly wanted to remain in the EU.

A similar proportion – 80 per cent – would vote Remain in a second referendum, according to the latest Tes poll.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said that whichever party ended up in government, it needed to focus on creating a fully and fairly funded education system; ensuring every classroom and school had "great teachers and leaders"; a reliable school inspection system; a broad a balanced curriculum; and providing strong support services for children and families.

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