Press release

What do teachers want from the new Government?

4 May 2010

Teachers are sending a clear message to politicians that they want more stability and less change.

NFER’s latest Teacher Voice omnibus survey asked over 1,400 primary and secondary teachers in England about their views on the future direction of education policy in England. They were asked what the three main priorities for primary and secondary education should be for the new government, as well as their reaction to a selection of educational measures that have been suggested by the three main political parties.

Headline findings

According to teachers, top priorities for the incoming government should be more support for teachers to do their job and a reduction in the number of new initiatives coming from Whitehall. Pre-election pledges that would re-shape the structure of schools in England were generally rated a ‘bad idea’ by teachers. Secondary teachers have seen the roll out of Labour’s Academy programme, for example, but now two-thirds of them feel that plans to expand and extend the programme and encourage setting up new Academies by a range of providers (as previously suggested by both Labour and Conservative parties) are also a ‘bad idea’.

There is also little support for measures to spread excellence through mergers and take-overs of schools, with just 8% of teachers thinking this is a ‘good idea’, 46% that it is a ‘bad idea’ and the remainder being ‘unsure’. The strongest criticism from teachers was reserved for Labour’s proposal to enable parents to trigger a ballot to bring in a new school leadership team, with 80% of all respondents believing this to be a ‘bad idea’.

Improving pupil behaviour is a key issue for secondary teachers

Half of secondary teachers and a quarter of primary teachers rated improving pupil behaviour as one of their top three priorities for the incoming government.  This compares with just 11% of teachers suggesting that raising attainment levels should be a top priority and only 7% feeling that tackling underperformance by pupils and/or schools should be a priority. It is clear that teachers are sending through a clear message about prioritising improved behaviour.

In both primary and secondary schools there was strong support for manifesto pledges to strengthen Home-School Agreements to help enforce discipline, with over 80% of teachers rating this as a ‘good idea’. Originally part of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, strengthened Home-School Agreements were dropped when the Government and opposition parties failed to reach agreement during the wash-up session of the last Parliament.

NFER’s Peter Rudd said: “Teachers are entitled to ask why strengthening Home-School Agreements, which appear to enjoy cross-party support, could not have been enacted in the last Parliament. However, their overall message is clear – more support, stabilising policy and reducing initiatives rank far more highly than suggestions of change.”

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For more information contact Gail Goodwin, NFER Media and Communications Manager, on 01753 637159, g.goodwin@nfer.ac.uk

Notes for editors

To see NFER’s Teacher Voice omnibus survey visit: /teachervoice