Most people believe teachers and athletes set the best moral examples for young people, and politicians and pop stars the worst.
A MORI survey, carried out for the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority on public attitudes on moral questions, reveals 77 per cent of people believe teachers are good role models for young people, and 73 per cent think the same of athletes.
Religious leaders, on the other hand, rank only third highest overall - just 48 per cent of respondents believed they set a good example. Pop stars and politicians, however, were felt to set a poor moral example by more than half of those questioned.
The results of the survey, carried out on a representative sample of 1, 778 people aged 15 and over throughout England, will be used by groups making up a National Forum on Moral and Spiritual Values, proposed by SCAA's chief executive Dr Nicholas Tate at a conference on "Education for Adult Life" last January.
The first group, drawn from the teaching profession, met earlier this month and remaining groups will meet before the beginning of April. Further meetings will be arranged throughout the summer.
More than 90 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds in the survey also said it was never right to steal other people's money, and 88 per cent felt it was wrong to cheat in school work.
* SCAA is asking teachers and teacher trainers on the National Forum to comment on existing good practice. SCAA is inviting schools to submit examples of policy on spiritual and moral development, and strategies for implementing the policy through the curriculum and daily life of the school. Any material will be treated in confidence.
Send information by April 19 to Brian Whittaker, School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JB.