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Poll's party poopers

Labour remains the most popular party for its policies on education, but according to a Harris poll public confidence in the ability of politicians to boost education has fallen in the past three months, writes Frances Rafferty.

The poll, commissioned by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, shows that despite the launch of the Government's education White Paper and the Labour party's Road to the Manifesto voters have less confidence in all three main political parties on four key areas: investment in education, getting the best out of teachers, offering the best job prospects for children and raising the quality of education.

Even the Liberal Democrats, who have said they will raise taxes for education, have only 43 per cent of respondents believing they will invest more cash in schools.

The Labour party has a massive lead over the Tories, ahead by 38 per centage points on investment, 21 points on getting the best out of teachers, 22 points on job prospects and 18 points on raising standards. The poll shows that Labour's lead on raising standards has, however, been cut by three points.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the ATL, said: "For months the main political parties have hyped their rival education and training policies. Sensing that public anxiety about standards is running deep, politicians judge that the party with the most credible programme for pushing them up could win the whole electoral shooting match. The evidence is that, for all the hype, the voters have yet to bite and that public support for any of the parties is starting to sag.

"Teachers do a good job. They want to see education given the priority it deserves in the run to the general election. The evidence from our polling suggests that far from engaging the public in the quest for better educational opportunities, the politicians have so far only acted to turn them off. "

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