This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%. It comes after an eight point lead yesterday, and a couple of six points leads at the end of last week, so we’ve had a couple of polls in a row with leads at the top of the normal range. I’m always wary of reading too much into polls that could be explained by normal sample variation, but it could be that the price hikes from British Gas and the renewed prominence of energy prices as an issue over the last few days has given Labour a bit of a boost. Or it’s just random sample error – keep watching the trend.

There were also some YouGov questions in the Times on Free Schools, which found a significant drop in support since YouGov last asked in September. A month ago 36% of people in England supported free schools, 40% were opposed… a pretty even split. Now 27% of people support free schools, 47% are opposed. I suspect the shift is more to do with the coverage of the dysfunctional Al-Madinah free school in Derby than Nick Clegg’s recent comments, but looking specifically at his comments 66% of people agree that schools should only be able to employ qualified teachers, 56% that all schools should have to follow the national curriculum.

488 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 32, LAB 39, LD 9, UKIP 11”

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  1. Edward :
    It’s difficult not to be flippant.
    Why have any qualifications for anything?
    Doctors, solicitors, accountants, architects, fork lift truck drivers, HGV drivers, gas safety plumbers etc etc.
    The bits of paper are important unless you want a free for all of individuals claiming they can do anything.

    Can we see some evidence of how many unqualified teachers are in Eton or Harrow? I’m guessing not very many, maybe the rugger coach?

  2. I can’t see any reason why someone who wants to be a teacher wouldn’t go and get themselves a teaching qualification.

    Yes costs etc but they can be addressed by the Free School giving a grant to this talented non-qualified person.


    But isn’t that why a teaching qualification is useful but not absolutely necessary, because the skills required for it tend to be fairly intangible – ability to have a ‘presence’ in a classroom, to instil discipline, inspire children to want to learn etc? Whereas say law requires a precise knowledge of precedents, procedures etc. Equally none of this answers the points made, first about the appareny lack of harm to indpendent school pupils by these unqualified teachers, and second the example of TeachFirst. Is there any evidence out there either way?

  4. I suppose one could be cynical and think that the government want to introduce a source of non-unionised lower paid teachers to drive down salaries in teaching.
    But I’d never accuse Gove of thinking that way.

  5. As always there are so many variations.

    In a way, when I qualified as a teacher and taught instrumental music I suffered from being so passionate about the flute that I assumed anyone coming for lessons felt the same.

    That may be even more the case for someone with no teacher-training who is, for example, a highly qualified mathematician but has never had any classroom experience.

    The public school questions on quality of teaching are mostly red herrings. The litmus test would be to see how they coped in State schools with much larger classes and less motivated children.

    Most of us who are good at something can probably teach it reasonably well if the circumstances are on your side rather than against.

  6. Statgeek

    A very good chart and summary.

  7. Sorry Rosie and Daisie but I did get images in my head of a dog teaching children the fluke and getting passionate about it in the way dogs tend to get passionate by running around and jumping up at anyone :-)

  8. Colin

    I have a PhD, have managed groups of people for 20 years and have published papers and patents to my name.

    Why does that make me a good teacher?

    Perhaps I will be a good lawyer, solicitor, dentist, doctor, psychotherapist, nurse as well….seeing I may be ‘gifted’

    How do you define a ‘gifted’ candidate – who defines it and what measures have they used?

    I am unaware that there is a qualification ‘gifted’.

    Was that comedy 27 year old head ‘gifted’.

    perhaps you are using the German word ‘Gift’?

    I do find you approach ton this to be very poor, unlike most of your others posts, I would stop digging if I was you.

    Some people have a very strange attitude to teachers….I know many and I respect them for what they do.

  9. TROTS57

    I can only indirectly answer your question about Eton and Harrow. The Spectator article below cites Brighton College, which is a successful independent school, as having a high number of unqualified teachers:

    Secondly in terms of who these unqualified teachers are, there was an interesting article in the Times Education Supplement in February 2010 which explained why some people opted for ‘unqualified’ teaching.

    It strikes me the closest we have to RosieandDasie’s test is through Teach First, which hardly seems to have failed and been terribly harmful to education.

  10. I would prefer an unqualified but effective teacher, to a qualified ineffective one, and since there are a large number of children leaving school without the basic skills of reading and writing, educationally we are light years behind most of the industrialised world. Here in London there are more and more parents choosing to teach their kids at home because of the appalling standards of the local schools, this is the driver of the free school movement, parents don’t trust the educational establishment to provide quality teaching, in other words, we need people who don’t just have a qualification, but people who can teach, those two elements are often mutually exclusive.

  11. Does anyone know how many of my lecturers (Durham) had a teaching qualification?

  12. Ken

    How do you determine whether someone is an unqualified, effective teacher? Whose judgement is used?

    Why is it the fault of the teachers that education is difficult, don’t the parents take any responsibility anymore?

    Also, when you say ‘unqualified’ what do you mean?

  13. Air Tech

    HE teaching is much different from schools – I have taught in HE and it is the mastery of the subject that is very important as the level you need to be at is high.

    The best is if we can incorporate that with a teaching qualification but it could be difficult to do. University students would also be expected to be self-teaching to a greater extent. Also, universities look for researchers not necessarily ‘teachers’.

    Things may change seeing the tuition fees are so expensive now but we will wait and see

  14. @Steve,

    I’m totally against the government’s proposals for direct entry to Superintendent and for super-extra-mega fast promotion to Inspector. I do support the proposal for foreign police officers to be allowed to be Chief Officers though.

    I’ve given it a great deal of thought as to why I think this way, and in the end I decided that really they’ve set the entry point too low and aren’t being radical enough.

    I would make Chief Superintendent the highest police rank, and civilianise everything above that. The only formal policing responsibilities that rest above Super (which relate to intrusive surveillance etc) could quite easily be shifted from Chief Officers to the judiciary. Some argue that would be a good thing anyway.

    The reason civilians would make bad Superintendents is because they don’t know how to police, and Supers are still (partly at least) policemen.

    The reason policemen make dreadful Chief Officers is that Chief Officers are politicians and beancounters, and policemen are terrible at those things.

    So lets split the thing in the middle. Let Chief Superintendents run things locally, with operational independence. Let civilian managers “run” the police service, deciding on budgets and real estate and policies.

  15. On qualifications for teachers,

    Aren’t we overlooking the fact that modern classrooms seem to be dominated by “Teaching Assistants” in any event? The teachers I know frequently bemoan the fact that rather than teaching the children themselves they are reduced to ringleading a three-ring circus of other adults, who carry out much of the actual interaction with the children and leave the teacher with tasks such as lesson planning and administration (including tasks such as photocopying, which the TAs consider to be beneath them).

  16. Also, universities look for researchers not necessarily ‘teachers’.

    This, so much. It’s the reason so many of my lecturers (particularly the English Lit ones) emit an hour’s worth of auditory sedative every time I enter a lecture theatre with them. I spent my last English lecture counting the number of tiles on the wall (40,882) then caught up in five minutes after I downloaded her powerpoint and notes.

    The Journalism lecturers are far better, mainly because they mostly were journalists for 20-30 years so actually have some ability to engage with people.

  17. Bcombie

    Perhaps I will be a good lawyer, solicitor, dentist, doctor, psychotherapist, nurse as well….seeing I may be ‘gifted.

    Most of the teachers employed in free schools have a teaching qualification, some have a qualification fron outside the UK and a few have no formal teaching qualification.

    In your argument are you suggesting for instance a foreign laugauge linguist say in chinese has to have a uk teaching diploma to be able to teach chinese, even though they may have been teaching it privately for years, or a physical training teacher with a long record of teaching children sport somehow can’t function without a teaching qualification, or perhaps a mathematics professor who teaches students would find it impossible to teach children for want of a teaching qualification.

    Maybe under your thinking all of the unqualified people working in state schools should be sacked like the person who got this job…


    If getting a teaching diploma was the key to success then there would be no bad teachers of failing schools but as there is, we can assume there’s a bit more to teaching than having a diploma, maybe being gifted,committed inspirational to the children you teach is just, if not more important .

  18. Surely the thing is that we can all agree that some people without teaching qualifications are great teachers. Some people are just naturally gifted at being able to take information and pass it on in an engaging and simple way that appeals to people.

    Most are not. Having a PhD in a subject area does not guarantee that someone will be a great, or even good, teacher – it only says that they know the subject area. Similarly someone who is a good university teacher may not be a good teacher of children.

    Likewise having a teaching qualification does not mean that someone will be a good teacher. What it does mean, though, is that they will have a knowledge of the subject areas to teach, as well as having been taught a range of tips, tricks and strategies to impart that knowledge too the people they teach. It’s not perfect but, heck, if you can design a perfect way of training teachers such that everyone becomes brilliant then frankly you’re wasted on this board.

    Attached to this is the fact that everyone is intellectually different. We all have different interests, different ways of studying, learning and so on. What may work for one pupil will not for another (and could even be detrimental to them).

    It’s a hard job, harder than most credit, and its gets harder the larger the classes are and the worse the facilities are.

    Not having a teaching qualification should not be an impediment to being able to teach; but nor should just knowing the subject area should not automatically mean someone gets a teaching position. Qualifications help to weed the field and guarantee a certain level of competence that helps when it comes to schools hiring teachers. Is it a perfect system? No almost certainly not, but its probably the least worst system devised so far.

  19. To link that in with the topic, I think an ability to engage (particularly with young children) is a vital ability that an education qualification gives. Otherwise, no matter how much expertise you have, you’ll teach your audience nothing because they’ll be asleep.

  20. Those links in my last comment dont seemed to have worked but they cover non qualified teaching posts in state schools of which there are many.

  21. @ Neil A

    Good post on police- not that I know what I am talking about but it does make sense that some roles are pseudo political or Administrative.

    I’m surprised at your post on TA’s though (what teachers you know have said). There are a lot of TA’s these days but I’m surprised if there is more than one per class generally working on a one to one basis or floating and if there are more it is probably for children with extra special needs.

  22. Turk

    Are we talking about a teaching qualification here? If people have a foreign teaching qualification then that could be considered but it will depend from where and what the roles is.

    You are using two examples where the person apparently has a teaching qualification and we would need to consider equivalence – this is commonly done in other fields and I do not necessarily say it shouldn’t be applied in teaching.

    What we keep hearing about though is about people with no teaching qualifications whatsoever – but expertise from outside teaching.

    There is no claiming that having a diploma is the guarantee of being a good teacher but what is your alternative?

    Who decides whether somebody without QTS becomes a teacher? Noone has yet given me the answer

    Will Dominic Cummings be making this decision or the comedy think tank head from London?

  23. turk

    “If getting a teaching diploma was the key to success etc etc”

    well. I’m not aware of anyone saying it was.

    Such a lot of very silly posts on this: clearly some people are better at communicating, controlling and interacting with children than others.

    Having accepted that statement of the bleedin’ obvious then I would still personally prefer to have someone teaching who is qualified and decide at interview point if it sounded as though they met the other criteria.

    Doesn’t seem overly complicated.

  24. Air Tech”

    “Does anyone know how many of my lecturers (Durham) had a teaching qualification?”

    Given lack of name and date the answer is probably “no”.

    You could, perhaps, check for yourself?

  25. It looks like in a lot of cases overseas qualified teachers are actually allowed to teach

    Also, I have lived in Europe and my wife is a primary teacher and in the country where we lived there was also a QTS equivalent and she had to register with proof of her teaching qualification, a CRB check or equivalent from the UK was also requested going back 10 years.

  26. Edward – I suspect I know someone who was formerly one of Brighton College’s unqualified teachers! Robert Waller (author of the Almanac of British Politics and occasional commenter here) used to be a tutor at Oxford University, an assistant professor at Notre Dame, then research director for Harris for ten years…. then went to teach history and politics at Brighton College. I have no idea if he went back to get teaching qualifications first, but if Brighton College are well known for recruiting teachers without formal qualifications I’m guessing he didn’t. He’s head of politics and history at a different independent school now.

    Bcrombie – “Who decides whether somebody without QTS becomes a teacher? Noone has yet given me the answer”

    Presumably the person themselves (unless schools are setting up press gangs) and the headteacher who chooses to appoint them!

  27. Heading off to my first political public meeting in years! (May also be my last for many years).

    Dunfermline by election result maybe “sometime after 12.30”??

    Haven’t seen anything to alter my initial expectation of a Labour win, especially given the Bill Walker factor.

    Hope the Green candidate does well (though I doubt she will). She was the most impressive on the TV hustings.

  28. Anthony

    Thanks for picking up on my poor writing….lol

    So a head teacher can choose….appalling idea. Based on what?

  29. Presumably all the same criteria they currently use when interviewing and appointing any teacher (plus, since you mentioned it earlier CRB checks, which are certainly still compulsory – it was the reason the Muslim free school in Derby was forced to close for several days, because Ofsted found the CRBs hadn’t been done)

  30. BCROMBIE……….Strangely enough all three of your questions invite the same answer, ‘ it’s obvious ‘. However, if we don’t agree on that, and I suspect we don’t, let’s move on, it just isn’t worth it. :-)

  31. Just noticed Tony Benn on TV with a beard [Benn, not the TV] – just by that unique tiny, circular movement he makes, continuously, with his right hand as he speaks.

    Beard suits him.

  32. Anthony

    I take from your tone you are in favour of this policy… cannot be the same criteria because they aren’t qualified teachers!

  33. Ken

    I tend to find any question that is answered with another question, is not answered.

    Your first post was full of such crass assertions that I am happy not to take this further with you

  34. Rosieand dasie

    “Such a lot of very silly posts on this:”

    Does that include your silly attempts to wind Colin up today.

  35. Good Evening All, I have been very busy, and happy, in my new teaching post.
    In terms of teaching qualifications, I think Independent Schools have often taken Graduates from the ‘top’ univs, without the PGCE. My late Father became a teacher after WW2, with a degree but without the Teaching Cert.

    Many people are now being employed in schools as Classroom Assistants and Cover Supervisors, the pay is about £10.00 an hour, as compared to mainscale teachers’ rates of about £30.00

  36. I think it’s worth mentioning that all the people enthusiastic about the unqualified getting teaching and headmaster posts when those unqualified people are right-wing bloggers and thinktankateers might feel differently if a different administration in charge, and suddenly it was *left-wing* bloggers and thinktankateers being airlifted into schools.

    I am a parent of a school age child (and also in the education sector myself), and the qualification gives me assurance that someone has been properly trained to do an important job. That is no guarantee that they will necessarily be good at it, but it is a damn sight better assurance for me than an assertion from a stranger unless I have excellent reason to believe that they know exactly what they are doing.

  37. Lib Dems still in single figures.

  38. BCROMBIE………..I don’t wish to add to my crass assertions, but I find questions where the answers are self-evident, are usually asked in the wrong spirit, hence my response.

  39. TURK

    Thank’s for the thought .

  40. turk

    “Rosieand dasie

    “Such a lot of very silly posts on this:”

    Does that include your silly attempts to wind Colin up today.”

    1/ It is DAISIE.

    2/ No, as that was on a different subject – plus, of course, they were both jolly witty and well-deserved.

    You need to lighten up a bit though, me and the pups are very nice.

  41. Colin

    Yes, it was sweet wasn’t it?

  42. Heads can use their discretion on appointing teachers. Most who are unqualified on appointment tend to work towards a formal qualification – that’s the Teach First method, for example, and TF is very good.

    What troubles me is when supporters of the unqualified working as teachers support their case by belittling qualified staff. Teaching is an important job. It is desirable that we have excellent reason to believe that teachers are properly trained to teach. It shows we are taking it seriously.

    The difficulty with a head taking a discretionary approach towards whether or not someone has qualifications is that you then have to trust that the head is going to appoint the best *teacher* and not someone who fits another criterion.

    To go back to the analogy I made earlier, how comfortable would supporters of the current policy be if, under a potential Labour administration, a Left Wing Ed Sec came in, approved schools run by other left-wingers with an avowedly left-wing political stance to education, and then chose teachers with ‘the right attitude’ – ie, political views? I rather suspect your support would melt away pretty quickly. I don’t want to see that happening, but the current situation is that the Ed Sec is perfectly able to do exactly that.

    It is always a good idea to imagine how a policy you like would work if the other team had control over it.

  43. As I was pontificating, I note that Kenneth Baker has been *extremely* disobliging towards the Ed Sec.

    Is it ‘Retired Tories bash their successors’ Week? I guess we recently had the Labour version with Mandy raising the coffin lid and intoning, so it’s only fair to even the sides.

  44. I wonder how this little lot going to turn out the press taking the government to court .

    “The judicial review application will be made by Pressbof (Press Standards Board of Finance), the industry body that funds the current Press Complaints Commission.

    Pressbof’s chairman Lord Black of Brentwood said: “The government and the Privy Council should have applied the most rigorous standards of consultation and examination of the Royal Charter proposed by the industry, which would have enshrined tough regulatory standards at the same time as protecting press freedom.

    “They singularly failed to do so, and that is why – as the issues at stake are so extraordinarily high – we are having to take this course of action.”

    It will all end in tears no doubt..

  45. ChrisLane1945

    I am very happy that you are happy!

    Schools that teach a group of priviledged kids making up <10% of the population cannot really be used as a good representation of the situation elsewhere

    I have seen teachers in private schools (went to one myself for a while – despicable place) and it is of no doubt where the power lies – and it is not with the teachers – when parents pay that school the dearest Henry and Henrietta can do no wrong!

    Excellent posts Chris Riley cannot argue with what you have written

    The danger is most acute in free schools which appear to have no rules as far as I can tell. It really made my stomach turn when I saw a head teacher coming from a right-wing think tank at 27 who would be allowed to choose non-qualified teachers on a whim. And it is my taxes that pay for that!!!!

    I am all for flexibility if the situation is right – fast-tracking teachers into QTS if they have the aptitude can be a good approach – but it ust be the goal to be qualified

    Thie concept of qualified teacher seems to be common in Europe, the case I know of well, Switzerland, requires all teachers to have the requisite qualification and you have to be accredited (this is the same for private schools as well). Obviously to teach in the state system you need the language as well

  46. @ Chris Lane,

    Lib Dems still in single figures.

    But are they too high?

  47. @Chris Lane
    I expect you think single figures are an over-estimate of theeir position?

    @Colin, Neil A, Edward
    Surely the point of a teaching qualification is not the qualification but the completion of the course. A student teacher completes two teaching practices in schools with a reduced timetable, working with experienced teachers who advice and support them. Very little of a PGCE is ‘taught’ in University these days.
    At the end of the second practice, the teacher reports back to the University. If the student teacher is not up to scratch, they do not pass the course.
    Why would you a school take a risk on someone who hadn’t gone through this process?
    Thankfully the public agree with an overwhelming majority.
    BTW Edward – what is the evidence that the Teach First program is a success?

    @Neil A
    You wrote about higher positions in the Police. How would you feel about people with no training becoming PCs?

    Gosh, I think the 9% looks high.

  49. On October 8th last The Grauniad produced the latest OECD, world education league tables……….

    Literacy 16-24 yr old………England Wales….19th

    Numeracy 16-24 yr old…..England Wales…..21st

    Nothing to do with teacher quality of course…!

    Japan came 1st in both tables.

    Japan has a system of inviting people without teaching qualifications, but with skills in business, commerce, or related disciplines, into teaching, whereupon an honoury certificate is bestowed upon them, ( OECD Japan Teacher Training )

    Nothing to do

  50. Previous…….Final…Nothing to do..please ignore. :-)

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