MORE than three-quarters of teachers claim the Government has had a negative impact on the country’s education system, according to a damning survey which reveals the vast majority of the profession does not intend to vote for either coalition party.
The poll published today shows strong opposition to the Government’s academies and free school programme and the current Ofsted inspection regime.
It also warns that changes to teachers’ pensions, pay and conditions is making it more likely that staff will want to leave.
The Department for Education has dismissed the survey as representing the views of less than one per cent of teachers and presenting a picture “which is simply not true”. The survey, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and carried out by YouGov, questioned 826 teachers over a seven-day period last month.
Its key findings include 79 per cent of teachers claiming the Government’s impact on education over the last three-and-a-half-years has been negative, while 82 per cent of teachers and 87 per cent of school leaders do not believe the coalition’s academies and free schools programme, being championed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, is taking education in the right direction.
NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: “If David Cameron and Nick Clegg are under any illusions that their education policies are going in the right direction, they need to think again.
“This survey makes it abundantly clear that both teachers and head teachers do not see their policies as being in the best interests of children or the profession.
“At a time when teacher morale is continuing to fall, it is extraordinary that the Secretary of State for Education refuses to enter into meaningful negotiations with teaching unions. The NUT cannot recall a time over its 144-year history when Government policy has been so roundly condemned by the teaching profession.”
More than nine out of 10 – 93 per cent – said free schools and academies should not be allowed to employ unqualified teachers.
The poll shows 87 per cent of teachers say they would rank Ofsted as being inadequate or requiring improvement – the bottom two categories the education watchdog can place schools in.
One of the most shocking findings is that almost half of the teachers’ said that malnutrition or hunger was affecting the ability of pupils to concentrate.
It reveals that 52 per cent of teachers questioned said they were less likely to stay in the profession as a result of changes to their pay and pensions, and 57 per cent were less likely to stay as a result of changes to teachers’ conditions. The plan to raise teachers’s working age was a cause for concern with 69 per cent of teachers and 85 per cent of heads saying they did not feel they would be able to work until the age of 68.
There was also support from the majority of those questioned for the joint industrial action by both the NUT and NASUWT unions in response to changes to teachers’ pensions, pay and conditions.
The poll shows 67 per cent of all teachers questioned supported the strike action that has been taken. This included 80 per cent of NASUWT members who were questioned and 81 per cent of NUT members.
The opposition to key Government reforms is reflected in the survey’s results for teachers’ voting intentions.
It found that of the 85 per cent who intended to vote, only 12 per cent said they would vote for the Conservative Party, while six per cent would vote for the Liberal Democrats but 43 per cent say they would vote Labour. The survey does not show how many of those polled were planning to change who they voted for.
A DfE spokesman said “Teaching has 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.”
Other findings from the survey include three-quarters of teachers saying morale has declined since the last General Election and just under two-thirds – 63 per cent – say more than a fifth of their workload did not directly benefit children’s learning.