Coalition gets thumbs down from teachers

13th May 2011 at 01:00
A year after he came to power, Gove and his policies are denounced in TES poll

The majority of the teaching profession is deeply dissatisfied with the performance of the coalition Government on educational policy, according to a survey by The TES.

The online poll - conducted to find out how teachers believe the Government has performed in its first 12 months - also shows that a big majority are against both allowing parents to set up free schools and the expansion of the academies programme.

More than 500 people responded to the survey, with 77.8 per cent rating the Coalition's performance on education as "bad" or "very bad".

But education secretary Michael Gove has come out fighting, saying his reforms are designed to allow teachers to "break free" from "stifling bureaucracy".

The staunch opposition to academies and free schools will be of most concern to Mr Gove. More than 77 per cent disagreed with the expansion of the academies programme, and 82 per cent believed free schools would have a negative impact on the wider school system.

But writing in this week's TES, Mr Gove said: "Schools want the freedom to decide what is best for their pupils. They want to be free to innovate in the classroom, inspiring pupils to learn.

"There are now hundreds more academies and many more will follow. This is a decisive shift in the education landscape. A shift of power from politicians and bureaucrats to professionals. It is a shift for the better."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he was not surprised by the results, particularly when it came to free schools.

"This survey shows the uncertainty out there," Mr Lightman said. "Although the Government has indicated its intentions, as yet there is no evidence and no outcomes to show what impact these policies will have."

And he added: "Most people feel free schools are on the periphery. They are not going to have a positive impact on the system as a whole."

Mr Gove's own performance was graded just as harshly by respondents, with more than 78 per cent saying they felt the education secretary's performance in his first year was either "bad" or "very bad".

But not all heads agreed. Mr Gove was supported by David Carter, executive principal of the Cabot Learning Federation in Bristol, who said the expansion of academies was the right course to take.

"Personally, I strongly agree with the expansion of the programme," Mr Carter said. "Being an academy gives a serious solution to improve the school's core work. It gives you the opportunity to focus on the needs of your school and your kids."

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the education secretary needed to start listening to the general public.

"This straw poll is yet another clear indication that Michael Gove's policies on academies and free schools are simply not wanted by the general public," Ms Blower said.

"To have any hope of continuing in office, the Government needs to listen to the growing discontent around them and change their policies to ones which do not leave whole swathes of the country alienated."

Related article: A very bad start: your verdict on the Coalition's first year


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