NUT/YouGov Polls of Parents and Teachers Reveal Growing Crisis in Schools

Saturday 3 June 2017

Parents put education at the heart of the General Election. More than two in five (43%) parents with children aged 4-18 consider education and school funding as an important issue in deciding how they’ll vote.

  • 60% of teachers report increased class sizes since the last General Election in 2015
  • Over a third of teachers (36%) report that teacher numbers have decreased at their school in the last two years.
  • Over 3.5million watch NUT campaign video in just five days.

Background

The Conservative Government has cut school funding by £2.8 billion since 2015. According to an analysis by the School Cuts website, without substantial additional funding 93% of schools will experience a per-pupil funding cut by 2021/22. (The party pledges are broken down here.)

Every parent, teacher and school staff member knows the debilitating effect a chronic lack of money has for the quality and type of education schools can give to children and young people.

Without sufficient funds, schools will be forced to increase class sizes, drop subjects from the curriculum, or cut staff numbers. Schools are cutting spending on children with special educational needs. Buildings are going unrepaired and begging letters to parents for money are all too common practice.

That is why the National Union of Teachers has been at the forefront of the campaign against real terms school cuts – those which are hitting schools now, and those yet to come. 

The interactive map at http://www.school.cuts.org,uk  has been instrumental in engaging parents, teachers and other concerned voters, and, just in the past week, our campaign video has been viewed by 3.5million people on Facebook alone, and shared on Twitter and Facebook by tens of thousands. The latest relaunch of the schoolcuts.org.uk site gives school-by-school impacts according to the manifesto promises of each of the three main parties.

Survey Results

Today, two NUT-commissioned polls by YouGov – of 1,012 parents with school-aged children, and 755 teachers, conducted separately in May 2017 – demonstrate that the wide concern about school cuts is both real and justified. (1)

The parents’ poll sought to identify their level of concern about education in the run-up to the General Election, and questions surrounding current funding.

On the political issues facing them at the General Election:

  •  43% of parents polled stated that education and school funding will be a key issue in deciding their vote in the 2017 General Election. (Only Health at 50% and Britain leaving the EU at 51% outranked it.)
  •  Of those who prioritised education, 83% are more likely to vote for a candidate who will support tackling education and school funding. 

On the issue of current school funding:

  • 8% of parents believe schools are in financial difficulty, with just 24% believing them to be well-funded of which only 1% thinking they are very well-funded.
  •  72% believed that ‘savings’ of £3bn by 2019/20 would have a negative impact on schools. Only 6% believed they would be positive. (The financial savings forecast is one used by the NUT as part of the School Cuts campaign, taking into account the proposed National Funding Formula of the Conservatives. The National Audit Office has made a similar prediction.)
  •  Asked if their school has approached them for a financial contribution excluding any PTA funding, the multiple-choice question highlighted money going towards school events (58%), uniforms (45%), learning materials such as notebooks and stationery (25%), musical instruments (22%), textbooks (21%), sports equipment (19%), IT equipment (12%), upkeep of school premises (9%) and building maintenance/refurbishment (8%). Only one in five parents (20%) said they had never been approached for an additional financial contribution to their school.

The teacher poll, meanwhile, focused on trends since 2015, when the Conservative Government was last elected. 

On the key impacts:

  • 60% of teachers confirm that class sizes have increased in their school over the last two years. 33% said they had remained steady, while just 3% stated they had decreased.
  • 38% of teachers polled say that the range of subjects available to pupils in their school had decreased since 2015. 46% said it had stayed the same, but only 9% said that the subject range had increased.
  • 36% of teachers polled stated that the number of teaching posts in their school had reduced over the last two years. 38% said that teaching posts had stayed the same. The number of teaching posts has increased in 17% of schools.
  • 62% of teachers reported that teaching assistant posts have decreased at their school since 2015, and 21% stated that numbers had stayed the same. Just 7% reported that the number of teaching assistant posts had increased in the same period. 
  • 54% of teachers polled said that funding for high needs pupils has decreased since 2015. 17% believe funding had stayed the same, while just 7% confirmed that funding had increased.

Comment

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The findings of this YouGov poll point unambiguously to a growing crisis in our schools. Parents and teachers are already seeing the devastating effects of underfunding and the largest school cuts for a generation. The polls confirm that the NUT’s campaign on school funding is closely aligned to the concerns of both parents and teachers.

“Politicians of all parties should be aware that parents are saying school funding will influence their vote.

“Education cuts never heal and we as a country can do better. On June 8, parents, teachers and other concerned voters must consider what is most needed for schools – and which party best fits that aspiration. At this General Election it is time more than ever to vote for education.”

Editor’s Note

(1)

Poll of Parents: 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,012 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18/05/17 to 29/05/17.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB parents (aged 18+) with children aged 4-18. 

Poll of Teachers:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 755 teachers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16/05/17 to 24/05/17.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the teaching population by phase, region, gender and age.

YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council.


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