Just one in ten teachers would vote Conservative, survey reveals

2nd January 2014 at 13:16

Four out of five teachers believe that the Coalition government has had a negative impact on the country’s education system – and barely one in ten say that they would vote Conservative in a general election.

The results of a YouGov survey of more than 800 teachers – commissioned by the National Union of Teachers – make depressing reading for ministers.

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of teachers say that their morale has declined since the last election in 2010, with 79 per cent insisting that the current government’s impact during this period has been negative.

Education secretary Michael Gove’s focus on academies and free schools comes in for particularly strong criticism; 82 per cent of the teachers surveyed take the view that the programme is not “taking education in England in the right direction”, with just 6 per cent backing Mr Gove. Among school leaders, the percentage of people who do not back Mr Gove's programme rose to 87 per cent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, few teachers signalled support for the Tories. Of the 85 per cent of teachers who said they would vote if there were a general election tomorrow, just 12 per cent said that they would vote Conservative, with 6 per cent backing the Liberal Democrats and 43 per cent saying that they would vote for the Labour party.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the results made it “abundantly clear” that classroom teachers and school leaders opposed government policies.

The NUT and NASUWT unions are currently involved in a trade dispute over changes to teachers’ pay, pensions and working conditions. Unless there is a breakthrough in talks with Mr Gove, the unions have pledged to hold a one-day national strike by 13 February.

Among the members of the two unions surveyed, 80 per cent of NASUWT members and 81 per cent of those in the NUT say that they support strike action. Across all teachers, 67 per cent say they support the action, with 28 per cent opposing it.

“The NUT cannot recall a time over its 144-year history when government policy has been so roundly condemned by the teaching profession,” Ms Blower said.

“With a general election round the corner, David Cameron and Nick Clegg need to completely change tack if they are to attract the support of teachers and start improving the life chances of our children and young people.”

Just under two-thirds of respondents – 63 per cent – say that more than a fifth of their workload did not directly benefit children’s learning.

Ofsted also came in for heavy criticism, with 87 per cent of teachers ranking the watchdog as being inadequate or requiring improvement – the bottom two categories that schools can be placed in.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said teaching had “never been more attractive, with more top graduates entering the profession than ever before and vacancy rates at their lowest for eight years.

“Our pay reforms mean great teachers can now be rewarded with higher salaries and our new curriculum gives teachers more freedom over how they teach.

“Teachers are the driving force of this government’s reforms, with hundreds of teachers coming together to set up and work in free schools, and thousands of schools choosing to take on more freedom and responsibility for their teachers by becoming academies,” he added.


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