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

by Stephen Tall on June 27, 2014

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 Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.