Teachers keep faith with Labour

12th January 2001 at 00:00
Despite 'broken' promises and high stress levels, Tony Blair still has staffroom support, according to a TES survey.

Teachers continue to back Tony Blair even though three out of five of them do not believe the Prime Minister has kept his promise to increase support for schools, a TES Election 2001 poll shows.

More than 80 per cent of the teachers questioned say their job has become more stressful since Mr Blair was elected in 1997 and 91 per cent say he has failed to raise the status of teaching. They believe smaller classes, more non-contact time and less red tape would make them more effective teachers.

But support for Labour remains higher among teacher voters than among the population as a whole.

The TES poll of 501 state and independent-school teachers in England, conducted by FDS International last month, shows that, if a general election were called tomorrow, 54 per cent of teacher-voters would back Tony Blair. This is down from 57 per cent who voted Labour in 1997.

Other polls give Labour 46 per cent backing among the population as a whole, the Tories 34 per cent and the Liberal Democrats 14 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats also win more support among teachers than the country at large. They are backed by 20 per cent of them, as in 1997. The same proportion intendto vote Tory, up from 19 per cent in 1997. Some 69 per cent rejected William Hague's "free school" policies: 25 per cent approved.

But the poll shows teachers do not always vote for the party they believe has the best education policies. Almost four in 10 (37 per cent) had no opinion about who had the best education policies. This figure was particularly high among private-school teachers (46 per cent) and the under 30s (43 per cent).

Most (57 per cent) believed that academic standards had improved since 1997 or stayed the same (34 per cent).

And the majority of those polled thought that the Office for Standards in Education had an important role to play in guaranteeing standards but said it should be reformed.

Around two-thirds of all secondary and primary teachers believe pupil behaviour has worsened since 1997.

Despite this, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) were satisfied with their jobs, with just under a third very satisfied.

Heads and deputies - particularly those in secondaries - were more likely to be satisfied than other teachers.

As for the future? Six out of 10 teachers are fairly or very optimistic about their work even though more than half of those polled would not recommend it as a career to their children.

News, 4-5; Briefing, 22-23

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