Parents question education policies

March 30, 2013, 6:00 AM GMT+0

Parents express confidence in teachers but no confidence in the government’s education policies, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

After almost three years in power, only 8% of parents believe that the government has made a positive impact on the education system. This compares to a plurality (44%) that think the Coalition has made a negative impact and a third (33%) that think it has made no difference.

Apart from themselves, parents say head teachers (59%) and teachers (58%) are the people they most trust with their children’s education. In contrast, just 6% trust either Michael Gove or an academy chain.

Opinion on academies

Only one in seven (14%) parents believe that academy status improves educational standards, while a majority (55%) think it does not.

Meanwhile, over three-quarters (78%) disagree with Michael Gove and say that all schools including academies and free schools should follow the same national curriculum, with only 5% opposing this. Again, in contrast with the government’s stance, six in ten (60%) parents believe that there should be a national pay system for teachers.

Pessimistic views on education policies

There was a similar negative response to many of the government’s policies and vision for the future of education.

Just one in five parents (19%) believe that the academies and free schools programme is taking education in the right direction. An overwhelming majority (84%) of parents are also opposed to Michael Gove’s willingness for state schools to be run for profit and only 9% agree with the Government’s policy to allow academies and free schools to employ unqualified teachers. Meanwhile, over half (56%) do not agree that free schools should be allowed to open in premises without planning permission for school use.

Concerns about curriculum

Despite nearly three-quarters (73%) of parents describing the quality of teaching in their child’s school as either good or excellent, parents expressed concerns with the national curriculum at present.

More than nine in ten (93%) primary school parents think that time for reading for pleasure in the curriculum is important and 89% feel there should be time for fun and learning through play in the school day. A majority are not convinced that the Year One Phonics Check was helpful, with 73% saying that the use of nonsense words in the tests such as ‘snemp’ or ‘thazz’ could confuse some children.

Although six in ten (60%) parents with children in secondary schools think that GCSEs provide a good breadth and depth in range of subjects, 61% disagree with the government’s plans to get rid of course work and have an end of course examination.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT said: “It appears that it is now only the Secretary of State who believes that his policies are taking education in the right direction. Michael Gove’s proposals for examination reform, the national curriculum and academies and free schools are all being questioned. Michael Gove does not have the confidence of the profession or parents.”

See the full YouGov/NUT results