NUT/YouGov Teacher Survey on Government Education Policy

4 October 2015

Shock YouGov survey reveals disturbing new figures showing that more than 50% of teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years.

NUT challenges the Government to take urgent action on the issues that drive teachers away: workload, pay and low morale.

In another damning verdict on the Government, teachers have expressed their views on both their present conditions and the Department for Education’s plans for the future.

NUT research shows that it is clear that workload continues to be a huge problem. Teachers are working anything up to 60 hours per week (1).

The NUT/YouGov survey shows that:

  • 53% of teachers are thinking of leaving the teaching profession in the next two years.
  • The top two reasons given for thinking of leaving the profession were “Volume of workload” (61%) and “Seeking better work/life balance” (57%).
  • Teachers are reporting seeing reductions in the number of support staff (46%) and teachers (32%) in their school at the moment.

The Government's efforts ‎to reduce workload have so far been ineffective. A major development was the production by Ofsted of a clarification of elements of unnecessary workload. (2) But 48% of teachers have not heard of this and a further 30% have heard of it but said it won't help in their school.

In a major indication that Michael Gove's introduction of performance related pay (PRP) has gone badly wrong the NUT/YouGov survey shows that:

  • 67% of teachers are not in favour of PRP for teachers.
  • Of those not in favour, 84% believe it is “not practicable” to match an individual teachers’ contribution to student outcomes.

The NUT-commissioned YouGov survey also shows that low morale is entrenched.

  • Morale has declined in the past five years for two thirds (67%) of teachers. Just one in ten (9%) feel it has improved.
  • “Current policies for the school curriculum and pupil assessment are narrow and uncreative.” 73% of respondents agree with this statement. 45% of respondents agree strongly. Just one in ten (9%) disagree.

On new and forthcoming Government plans, a majority of teachers:

  • Believe that the forced academisation of schools rated ‘requires improvement’ will damage education (76% agree). (3)
  • Believe that plans for 500 new free schools will damage education (62% agree). (4)
  • Are not confident that the baseline assessment will give valid information as to a child’s ability in reception year (54% are not confident and only 19% are confident it will).
  • Are not confident that the baseline assessment allow an accurate baseline with which to check progress (52% are not confident and only 19% are confident). (5)

Responding to the findings of the YouGov survey, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The Government’s current priorities are both wrong and profoundly out of step with the views of teachers. They are the essential cause of the growing problems with teacher supply.

“This survey demonstrates the combined, negative impact of the accountability agenda on teacher workload and morale. Teachers feel that the Department for Education’s work thus far to tackle workload has been totally inadequate.

“Meanwhile, nearly one million more pupils are coming into the system over the next decade. The Government’s solution so far has been to build free schools, often where there are surplus places, and to allow class sizes to grow. Add to this a situation where teachers are leaving in droves and teacher recruitment remains low. We now have a perfect storm of crisis upon crisis in the schools system.

“The long-term erosion of teacher pay is further contributing to low teacher morale. With schools facing a 12% real terms cut over the next few years teachers face the prospect of stalled pay progression. Many are also missing out on the 1% pay increase from Government.

“Performance related pay was introduced by people in Whitehall who have a tin ear for the way in which schools work. Respondents to our survey strongly reject the notion that individual teachers can be judged on student outcomes.

“The DfE remains wilfully and recklessly unable to see that they are the cause of teacher misery across England. The NUT today challenges the Government to look hard at the findings of this survey and to start addressing the concerns of the profession as a matter of urgency.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,020 teachers in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22/06/2015 - 06/07/2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the school population in England by phase and type.

  1. NUT Edufact on Workload
  2. Ofsted Inspections - Clarification for Schools
  3. This supports recent analysis of FOI data by Henry Stewart which shows that a school’s ranking is more likely to worsen:
  4. “The first free schools opened in 2011 and, with 251 now open, their impact on neighbouring schools and the wider education system is proving damaging.” NUT Edufacts on Free schools
  5. The NUT opposes the baseline assessment.

Full data tables.