Survey report

Teachers’ New Year Message
January 2014
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) commissioned the polling company YouGov Plc
to survey a representative sample of teachers in England and Wales.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The figures have been
weighted and are representative of the England and Wales school population by region,
school phase, school type and teacher gender. The total sample size was 826 teachers.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd December and 9th December 2013. The survey
was carried out online. YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by
its rules.
Key findings
Morale in the teaching profession continues to fall and three quarters (74%) of
teachers say their morale has declined since the last general election.
52% of teachers are less likely to stay in the profession as a result of changes to
teacher’s pay and pensions, and 57% are less likely to stay as a result of
changes to teacher’s conditions
In one of the richest countries in the world, almost half of teachers (49%) report
malnutrition or hunger affecting the ability of pupils to concentrate.
86% of teachers would rank Ofsted as inadequate or requiring improvement.
Teachers and parents share concerns about schools having different term dates.
The survey results are set out in more detail below.
Teacher professionalism
In September 2013 the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said: ‘It is
because the teaching profession is so crucial that our programme of education reform
has been designed to empower teachers; to give them more freedom, more power and
more prestige’.
This survey shows that he has much to do to turn his words into reality.
Teachers were asked to what extent they think that this Government’s reforms have
empowered teachers. A large majority (69%) answered ‘not at all’ and a further 22% said
‘not very much’. Perhaps of even more concern for the Secretary of State: 81% of the
head teachers in the sample felt that the reforms had not empowered teachers at all.
When asked how trusted by the Government they feel to get on with their job as a
teacher only 1% of respondents answered ‘totally trusted’ and 4% said they felt trusted
most of the time. Most teachers identified a lack of trust with 45% of respondents saying
they were ‘not at all trusted’ and 36% ‘rarely trusted’ by Government to get on with their
job. 70% of head teachers felt they were ‘not at all trusted’
Respondents were asked to what extent they feel valued as a professional by politicians
and also by their pupils’ parents. The difference in response was stark. While almost two
thirds (64%) feel valued by their pupils’ parents only 3% feel valued by politicians.
Teacher morale
Teachers were asked to describe their current morale. A similar sample of teachers was
asked the same question by YouGov in April 20121 and December 20122. The table
below shows how they responded, then and now:
Teacher morale
Very high
Neither high nor low
Very low
April 2012
December 2012
December 2013
All three surveys have asked teachers whether their morale as a teacher had improved,
declined or stayed the same since the General Election in May 2010.
Has your morale changed April 2012
since May 2010?
Stayed the same
These results show that morale is at low levels and has continued to fall over the last
twenty months. Since April 2012 a higher proportion of teachers are saying that their
morale has declined since the last general election.
Verdict on Government policies
Teachers were asked if they thought the Coalition Government’s academies and free
schools programme was taking education in England in the right direction. Only 6%
answered ‘yes’ while the majority (82%) said ‘no’. School leaders were even more
critical than class teachers with 87% indicating ‘no’ in their response to this question.
Respondents were then asked what impact the Coalition Government had had on the
education system over the last three and a half years. Almost four fifths (79%) of
teachers felt that the Government’s impact had been negative. Only 4% of respondents
thought that the Government had made a positive difference to the education system.
Teachers were asked if they agreed or disagreed that people teaching in academies and
free schools should have qualified teacher status. Only 3% of respondents disagreed
with this and the majority of teachers (93%) agreed that people teaching in these
schools should have qualified teacher status.
Voting intentions
In the context of the above, it is perhaps not surprising that few teachers said they would
vote for the Coalition parties ‘if there was a general election tomorrow’. Of those
teachers who said that they would use their vote (85%), 12% said they would vote for
the Conservative Party and 6% said they would vote for the Liberal Democrats. 43% of
teachers would vote for the Labour Party.
Impact of changes on young people
The Government is introducing sweeping reforms to the curriculum and examination
system to ‘prepare students properly for life after school’3. Teachers were asked whether
they thought the cumulative impact of the changes to the curriculum, qualifications and
examinations was having a positive or negative impact on students. Four-fifths (80%) of
respondents considered the impact to be negative, while only 4% thought they were
making a positive impact on young people.
Since 2012, schools have assumed responsibility for giving careers advice. In a highly
critical report published in September 2013, Ofsted4 said that three-quarters of schools
visited by Ofsted were not delivering adequate careers advice. Teachers were asked
whether their school had adequate resources to provide high quality careers advice to
students. A third (34%) of teachers said their school had adequate resources but almost
half (48%) answered to the contrary. Almost one in five (18%) of respondents did not
know whether their school had adequate resources.
Primary school teachers taking part in the survey were asked about the Phonics
Screening Check that has been introduced on a statutory basis for all pupils in year one.
Respondents were asked whether the Check gave them any additional information
about their pupils. Most teachers (58%) said that the Check did not provide them with
any additional information. For 19% of respondents the Check did provide them with
extra information.
Teachers working in early years and primary settings were asked whether the person
responsible for leading children’s learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
should be required to have Qualified Teacher Status. 95% of teachers agreed that there
should be a requirement while only 3% disagreed.
A frequent concern cited by teachers is that they are required to spend too much of their
working time on bureaucratic tasks at the expense of supporting their pupils. Teachers
were asked what proportion of their workload related to tasks and activities which they
feel do not directly benefit children’s learning. The results suggest that changes have to
be made in the way teachers spend their time to reduce the time spent on tasks that do
not directly benefit learning 63% of teachers said that more than a fifth of their workload
does not directly benefit children’s learning. 18% of respondents said that more than
40% of their workload is spent on tasks and activities of no direct benefit to children’s
Teachers were asked whether a range of factors external to schools had a negative
impact on the educational achievement of the children that they teach. Their responses
are set out in the table below:
Lack of space in the home
Lack of access to computers and the internet at home
Malnutrition or hunger affecting ability to concentrate
Fewer cultural experiences such as outings and holidays either in the 52
UK or abroad
Child or adolescent mental health issues
Lack of specialist services for SEN and behaviour intervention
Teachers were also asked what impact public sector cuts and austerity measures were
having on their pupils and their families. 40% of teachers said it was having a negative
impact on some children and their families. A similar proportion (36%) said it was having
a negative impact on many children and their families.
Teachers’ pay and working conditions
Teachers were asked if introducing performance related pay would improve outcomes
for children’s education. 81% thought that it would not improve outcomes with only 6%
answering ‘yes’.
Respondents were then asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the
following statements:
‘I prefer a national framework for teachers’ pay rather than individual decisions at school
level’ – 88% agreed. 6% disagreed.
‘I prefer a national framework for teachers’ working hours rather than individual decisions
at school level’ – 85% agreed. 6% disagreed.
The survey then asked teachers whether the Secretary of State’s changes to teachers’
pay and pensions would make them more or less likely to stay in the teaching
profession. A majority (52%) said it was less likely they would continue in the profession.
Only 2% of teachers said the changes meant it was more likely they would stay in the
Similarly, teachers were then asked whether the Secretary of State’s changes to
teachers’ conditions would make them more or less likely to stay in the teaching
profession. While 2% of teachers said the changes meant it was more likely they would
continue teaching, 57% felt it was less likely they would remain in the profession as a
The Government wants teachers to work longer - until they are 68 or maybe even
higher; pay more for their pensions and get less in retirement. The survey asked
teachers if they would be able to continue teaching to 68. Only 7% of respondents
answered in the affirmative with 69% answering ‘no’. 18% of teachers said they didn’t
want to continue teaching until the age of 68 but they couldn’t afford to retire earlier.
All respondents were asked to what extent they supported the NUT/NASUWT strike
action on pay, pensions and conditions. The majority of teachers (67%) said that they
supported the action while 28% were opposed. 80% of NASUWT and 81% of NUT
members supported the strike action.
Teachers were asked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a series of
statements about Ofsted.
Ofsted inspections make a positive
contribution to school improvement
Ofsted inspections are a reliable
measure of school performance
Ofsted inspections capture a rounded
picture of all the school’s work
Ofsted judgements are independent
and free from political interference
Teachers were then asked to grade Ofsted using the same rankings that schools are
judged after an inspection.
Only 1% of teachers gave Ofsted the top ‘outstanding’ ranking. 7% rated Ofsted as
‘good’ while 43% of teachers said the inspectorate ‘requires improvement’. 43% of
respondents ranked Ofsted in the bottom ‘inadequate’ grading.
For profit schools
There is increasing speculation that a future Conservative government may allow
schools to be run for profit. Teachers were asked whether they would support such a
move. 91% said that they did not think that publicly funded schools should be run for
School term dates
The Government wants to let all state schools in England decide their own terms and
holidays from September 2015.
The vast majority of teachers (80%) disagree with the Government and think it is
important that schools maintain very similar term dates.
A survey carried out by Netmums for the charity 4Children showed that a similar
proportion of parents (77%) are also opposed to the proposed changes 5. Parents fear
that planning childcare and activities would be harder if school holidays varied.