Good news for Gordon: teachers back Labour

15th January 2010 at 00:00
Survey reveals Labour come out top, although one in 12 say all parties are `as bad as each other'

Original paper headline: At last, some good news for Gordon: teachers back Labour

Labour remains the most popular party among the teaching community, an Ipsos MORI poll of teachers has revealed.

A survey of 1,000 teachers, carried out on behalf of the Sutton Trust, showed that 25 per cent who expressed a preference would vote for the party if there was a general election tomorrow.

However, the Conservatives have seen their support double since 2005, with 18 per cent of teachers now saying they would want to see the party running the country.

The profession has historically supported Labour, but there are signs that this support is dwindling, while more than one in three could not say which party would be best for education.

Previous polls carried out by The TES showed backing for the party had fallen from 43 per cent in 2001 to 29 per cent in 2005. Although this poll is not directly comparable, the figures reveal an overall downward trend in support for Labour.

This compares with 14 per cent of teachers saying they would vote for the Liberal Democrats.

But the voting trends are less distinct among teachers aged 34 or under, where 22 per cent of teachers would vote Labour versus 21 per cent Conservative and 18 per cent Liberal Democrat.

Above all, however, the figures reveal an overall scepticism of each of the parties, with 15 per cent of teachers stating they are undecided on which way to vote and another one in 10 saying they will not vote at all.

When asked which party teachers thought would be best for education, 34 per cent were unable to say, while nearly one in 10 said they were "all as bad as each other".

The figures will be particularly unwelcome for the Conservatives, who may have believed their rhetoric of handing more power to schools would have wooed a greater proportion of the profession.

The party certainly didn't win any friends among teaching unions, however, when shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said he would abolish restrictions on senior staff observing lessons and make it easier for heads to sack failing teachers.

Speaking at the NEEC (North of England Education Conference) 2010 in York, Mr Gove said: "Headteachers can only spend three hours a year watching a current qualified teacher going about their work.

"That personally seems completely wrong. The whole point of teaching should be an open and collaborative process, with those who have experience helping those who are learning to improve their craft.

"In my view, there should be no restriction on the capacity of heads and heads of department to observe what's going on in order to raise standards."

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