The perfect teacher

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 22, 2011, 11:19 PM GMT+0

Would Carol Vorderman be your perfect teacher? What about Stephen Fry?

We asked 2,014 UK parents with children in secondary school education to choose their perfect teacher from a list of well-known figures, as part of a survey for the Times Educational Supplement. The winning combination from all votes included:

  • Carol Vorderman (48%)
  • Stephen Fry (40%)
  • Helen Mirren (36%)
  • David Attenborough (35%)
  • And JK Rowling (31%)

Not forgetting the students themselves, we asked 530 pupils currently at secondary school who their perfect teacher would be, and the result included a blend of:

  • JK Rowling (40%)
  • Harry Potter head teacher Albus Dumbledore (36%)
  • Along with Jamie Oliver, Yoda (from Star Wars) and Miss Honey (from Roald Dahl’s classic storybook ‘Matilda’) who all picked up a 26% approval rating

For parents, the three most important qualities that make a ‘great teacher’ in 2011 are an ability to inspire (86%), a passion for their subject (84%) and an ability to command respect (81%).

Children meanwhile think that a sense of humour (80%), patience (68%) and subject passion (59%) are the most important traits.

Freedom to teach

Both parents (74%) and children (69%) want teachers to have the freedom to teach as they see fit rather than be limited by a rigid syllabus.

And almost three quarters of all questioned believe that every class is unique and needs a different approach and teaching style (75% parents, 70% children).

Gerard Kelly, Times Educational Supplement Editor, says: ‘Among parents, it’s clear that no one wants to see a real-life version of bully Sue Sylvester [from hit US TV show Glee] stalking the corridors and classrooms, but the majority would be happy to see today’s teachers commanding more respect from their pupils.

‘More importantly, they appreciate that good teaching is about inspiration and passion and more than just an exercise in crowd control.'