Poll of school leaders and governors: Don’t like Coalition’s education policies – BUT do like Lib Dem Pupil Premium and infant free school meals

05192014 - AD - Hartford 87A couple of findings worth highlighting from a major survey of more than 2,000 school leaders and governors, commissioned by The Key, and carried out by polling firm Ipsos Mori.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to discover that the Coalition’s performance on education is viewed unfavourably: three-quarters of school leaders (75%) are dissatisfied with almost half (46%) saying they are very dissatisfied. However, drill down a level and it’s clear there are some policies which are popular – two of three most popular have been championed by the Lib Dems:

Among current national policies and initiatives, school leaders are most likely to support Pupil Premium funding, 0-25 statements for children with special educational needs and universal free school meals for infants. They are least likely to support forced academisation for underperforming schools and the creation of free schools.

The school leader questionnaire asked about level of support for 12 national policies and initiatives. Of these policies, school leaders are most likely to oppose forced academisation for underperforming schools (73% strongly or tend to oppose) and the creation of free schools (69% strongly or tend to oppose). They are most likely to support Pupil Premium funding (74% strongly or tend to support), 0-25 statements for children with special educational needs (55% strongly or tend to support) and universal free school meals for infants (51% strongly or tend to support). …

Over half of school leaders (56%) feel that the Pupil Premium has been effective in helping to close the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds, with most (47%) believing that it has been fairly effective, and 9% that is has been very effective. A third (33%) of school leaders do not feel that it has been effective.

Here’s the full table:

the key policies popular

Lib Dems might be hopeful that the popularity of with school leaders and governors of policies we’ve pushed would translate into support – there’s not much evidence of that, though. Just 5% of school leaders and 6% of governors think the Lib Dems have the best education policies, lower than for either Labour or the Conservatives:

Many school leaders and governors do not favour the education policies of any mainstream political party.

Six in ten (60%) school leaders did not express a preference for the education policies of any of the mainstream political parties. Of the mainstream parties, Labour receives the highest endorsement, with one in five school leaders (20%) believing it has the best education policies.

More than half of governors (56%) did not express a preference for the education policies of any of the mainstream political parties. Labour receives the highest endorsement with 17% of school governors believing that it has the best education policies, followed by the Conservatives (14%).

the key policies parties

Two possible explanations here. Either (1) the popularity of Lib Dem measures are not sufficient to outweigh the dissatisfaction with the Coalition’s overall education policy; or (2) not many school leaders and governors associate the Lib Dems with the policies they like. Neither, frankly, is much comfort.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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13 Comments

  • Richard Dean 27th Jun '14 - 2:31pm

    Given recent events in Birmingham and elsewhere, I would have liked to see a question along the lines of “Do you approve of compulsory approved training for school governors?”

  • The failure to turn Coalition Government action into support for Liberal Democrats is no surprise.

    I doubt if those polled even knew about the recent revelations about Clegg, Astle and Reeves pushing the Conservatives to go even further on “schools for profit”.

    Cummings wrote — [Update. Clegg’s advisers, Reeves and Astle, did argue for profits.
    Clegg’s ‘I stopped Gove from doing profits’ speech was pure invention, dreamed up by Reeves in summer 2011,
    and was even more dishonest than a straight lie given his own and his advisers’ views.]

    http://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/a-few-responses-to-comments-misconceptions-etc-about-my-times-interview/?utm_content=bufferd535c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Note in particular reference to the real wishes of Clegg, Astle and Reeves at the end of para 8 .

    I have not noticed Clegg or his two former advisors taking Cummings to court for defamation following publication of this in his blog. These are very serious accusations. Not least there is the accusation that Clegg deliberately lied and Reeves wrote a speech to deceive party members.

    If there is no truth in the accusation — why no action to get Cummings to retract??

     

  • Charles Rothwell 27th Jun '14 - 3:19pm

    I do not know many “school leaders” but I do still know quite a few teachers still operating “at the chalk face” and I can tell you frankly that Michael Gove is not just disliked but actually thoroughly hated by a good number of them. They all share his aim of “raising standards” (who would not) but feel that his focus is far too narrow (not least in just seeing educational outcomes in more or less purely academic terms) and his constant, never-ending reforms and, above all, because of what they perceive as his unrelenting denigration of them, combined with a resolute determination to drive down their working conditions, if not actually totally de-professionalize the teaching profession. If the Party is to regain a measure of the trust it used to enjoy in abundance among teachers, it needs to try and do all it can to dissociate itself from Gove and, in addition to the Pupil Premium and free meals, emphasise the work it is doing in promoting NON-academic education, e.g. APPRENTICESHIPS and University Technology Colleges. I would steal Cameron’s line in a recent PMQs and make it party policy to aim to have one of the latter in every city/major town within so many years (linking it to moves like the recent news from the Federation of Small Businesses in increasingly finding suitably qualified personnel (with nearly one million young people unemployed! Truly the “Blair heirs (and of Brown)”!): http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/federation-small-businesses-fsb-said-7308930

  • @John Tilley

    “I doubt if those polled even knew about the recent revelations about Clegg, Astle and Reeves pushing the Conservatives to go even further on “schools for profit”.”

    But there is no “revelation” about Clegg. You have confused the quote, possibly deliberately in order to obfuscate the matter. Your reliable source on this is none other than hearsay from Dominic Cummings, a rogue former adviser to Michael Gove and avowed enemy of Nick Clegg.

    “Cummings wrote — [Update. Clegg’s advisers, Reeves and Astle, did argue for profits.”

    He did not write that Nick Clegg argued for profits. So there is no evidence for what you say. It is quite possible to say Nick Clegg blocked profit-making schools. After all, if he didn’t, then who did? Certainly not the Tories.

    The fact is, they didn’t happen because while the idea might have been discussed, someone blocked the idea and the only person claiming to have done that is Nick Clegg.

  • Peter Watson 27th Jun '14 - 5:41pm

    @RC “It is quite possible to say Nick Clegg blocked profit-making schools. ”
    But did he block the Tories or fellow Lib Dems?

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Jun '14 - 6:20pm

    Censorship is profoundly illiberal . Let’s try again – why would accept educators accept lib dem policies yet reject the party ? That’s a tough one – please turn to chapter 1 – nick Clegg

  • Bill le Breton 27th Jun '14 - 6:52pm

    It is quite simple for nick Clegg to ask the permanent sec at DfE to confirm that at no time did he or his advisers, Astle and Reeves commission any research on the issue from any member of his staff or require them to attend meetings to discus allowing schools to make profits.

  • @ Bill le Breton

    Whatever his advisors did or did not do, it does not follow that Nick Clegg himself supported something.

    “It is quite simple for nick Clegg to ask the permanent sec at DfE to confirm that at no time did he or his advisers, Astle and Reeves commission any research on the issue from any member of his staff or require them to attend meetings to discus allowing schools to make profits.”

    It is quite possible that one or other of his advisors advocated profit-making schools, given that there are others on the right of the party like Jeremy Browne who have also done so but this is not the central point.

    The point is whether Nick Clegg called for profit-making schools, and no-one, not even his arch-enemy Dominic Cummings has claimed that he did. Do you not think that Cummings would have hesitated for one moment to dish the dirt on Nick Clegg on this issue if there were any?

    I repeat: there is no “smoking gun” on this issue as regards Nick Clegg, just hearsay from the mouth of an enemy of the Lib Dems. That people should go on repeating and even embroidering on this simply to pursue their aims of denigrating our party leader further I find totally strange and rather worrying.

  • Tony Dawson 28th Jun '14 - 8:55am

    @RC :

    “Whatever his advisors did or did not do, it does not follow that Nick Clegg himself supported something.”

    This statement has no connection with reality. Any Minister’s political advisors are only allowed into Whitehall entirely because of her/him. They are effectively an extension of her/him. (S)he is totally responsible for their actions. There is NO ‘plausible deniability’. And having so many of them that he doesn’t know what they’re up to is also no excuse, least of all for NC, the man who said he’d cut down on the number of SPAds.

  • @RC
    ” It is quite possible that one or other of his advisors advocated profit-making schools”

    RC in a hole but still digging. Read Tony Dawson’s comment.

    Do you really think that £1,000,000 a year is spent on people like Reeves and Astle so that they can float around government departments flyimg policy kites of their own, unknown and unsupported by their boss?

    Your defence of Clegg, if accurate, would be even worse than the accusations from Cummings.

  • Where’s the proof Clegg supported profit-making schools?

    There is none.

  • Tony Dawson 28th Jun '14 - 8:07pm

    There is no proof at all that Nick Clegg supported profit-making schools. Only that Nick Clegg supported those who Dominic Cummings says pushed the case for profit-making state schools. Now, Dominic Cummings may well be totally dishonest in this matter. There is no proof on this either. Mr Reeves and Mr Astle appear to me to be quite right-wing people so they are hardly likely to consider the depiction of them as right-wingers by Mr Cummings as being defamatory, so I cannot see anything getting to court.

    PS. Does ‘RC’ stand for ‘Real Clegg’ or just how it is pronounced? 😉

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Jul '14 - 10:28am

    Charles Rothwell

    I do not know many “school leaders” but I do still know quite a few teachers still operating “at the chalk face” and I can tell you frankly that Michael Gove is not just disliked but actually thoroughly hated by a good number of them.

    Yup, and they see Clegg going on and on about this wonderful coalition and how it is the fulfilment of our party’s dreams and what we were working for all those years to become a “party of governance” and they conclude that we are in full support of Michael Gove, and then move on to “I’m sorry I ever voted Liberal Democrats, I will never make that mistake again”.

    Things like this are what I hear again and again and again and again and again from people of my acquaintance, people who in the past were Liberal Democrat supporters.

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