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. “Nick Clegg gives way on green levies”.Well who would have thought it!

  2. @KEN

    “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…!”


    Well went through this recently. Before you settle on the idea it must be the teachers there are numerous pretty obvious reasons that have nothing to do with teacher quality, if you stop for a moment to consider disconfirming information.

    For example, in many other countries, education continues till age 18. Whereas here, many have left age 16.

    Furthermore, we often specialize post-16, whereas elsewhere they may keep a broader curriculum up till 18. Here, if you choose humanities for A level, that may effectively be the end of your maths education. Similarly, I did science, and my English was effectively frozen aged 15 in a number of respects until I entered the world of work (something which gave my grammar school-educated bosses a certain amount of fun correcting my errors until I turned the tables a bit later).

    Another difference is that abroad, business may provide a lot more training than we do here.

    This is before we get to parental expectations etc.

  3. As far as polling is concerned, at the moment I would expect Tory strategists to be fairly content, no VI disasters, Labour in slight decline from low forties even though their [price freeze] gave them a bit of traction and reclaimed the immediate narrative.
    However, snapshot polls, such as the YouGov daily, are reactive to current issues, when the crunch comes in May 2015, a lot more will be taken into consideration, the Government will then control the agenda, and I would expect a loosening of the purse strings to help the Tory campaign.
    My personal preference would be a concentrated attack on the Labour record, both in and out of office, with promises of improved economic conditions built on the foundation being created. Still, a year and a half is a long time in politics. :-)

  4. @Neil and Colin

    Er, yeah, I went to private school myself. And it was a top ten school nationally, but this doesn’t automatically mean the teaching was all that great, because there are numerous reasons the deck is stacked in the favour of private schools.

    Loved the sarky “poor dears” comment, but the point is, you are not comparing apples and oranges, so can I invite you to look for disconfirming info. to check your case?

    In other words, to bolster your case, consider all the differences between teaching Cameron at Eton, and teaching in an inner city school. All the advantages Eton might have, which make life a lot easier for the untrained. Some have been given here already by others.

    Also, I’m not sure what it’s like at the moment, but when I was at private school, quite a lot weren’t teacher-trained, and boy could you tell at times. You can tell in HE quite often too, as Mr Nameless points out…

  5. @Cloudspotter,

    I’m not all that keen on people doing the job of PCs without being trained to be PCs, but it is absolutely widespread.

    PCSOs, civilian investigators, Detention Officers, Scenes of Crimes officers, civilian disclosure officers, station reception officers, you name it.

    The point is, would I take away the right of police managers to employ these staff and insist they only employ PCs, as it used to be up until the 1970s/80s? No I wouldn’t. I think it is for management to decide who they deploy to deal with any particular task.

    Let’s be clear, I am not advocating that teachers without Qualified Teacher Status should become the norm. Most private and Free schools are staffed overwhelmingly by QT teachers. It’s just the making it compulsory, in all instances, for all positions, that I think is unnecessary. I don’t think there’s any real reason to believe that it is going to be a problem in Free schools.

    There have clearly been some errors in the selection and approval of one or two of the current Free schools. I expect this is partly down to political zealotry – wanting the maximum number of Free schools to be created, so the policy would be seen as a success. Although with al-Madinah I suspect a slightly PC desire to be seen as inclusive and non-discriminatory was also a factor.

    Part of my enthusiasm for Free schools is that I am very much in favour of progressive and unorthodox teaching styles. The School of Creative Arts, a Free school opening in Plymouth this year, is the antithesis of everything Gove stands for. And yet under his reforms, (some) parents will finally get the chance to have progressive education for their children, free of charge.

  6. Maybe also have a look at PISA and TIMSS which are other international measures. England and Wales regularly appear in the top 10.
    Japan aren’t top of these.

  7. I should add that some do not seem to be aware that there are qualifications for teaching assistants too, and if they want promoted posts, further qualifications for those too.

  8. Thanks for you thoughtful reply Neil.
    I concede (not a word you see very often on this site!) at their best, free schools may allow young people to learn in the ways you describe.
    However, I (and the majority of the public) don’t see why it is necessary to employ untrained teachers to provide this type of education.

  9. One way in which some consider QTS, is that at the very least, it is akin to a driving license, the attainment of which doesn’t necessarily mean you are now a brilliant driver, you still need years more experience, but it does mean you have learned essentials and been guided and tested, so at least you won’t be a disaster and will be a lot less likely to do damage.

  10. Licence

  11. As far as polling is concerned, I think it looks like being a very tight race between the Red and Blue horses. Ed M seems to have established himself now.
    I heard Tony Benn being interviewed this evening about him.

    As far as teaching qualifications are concerned I welcomed Mrs Thatcher’s desire for an all graduate workforce of teachers.
    At its best, I think Teacher training is better than it was in 1978-79 when I did my pgce and the NQT/QTS programme for young teachers is far better than my own induction, back in the day, when I started in schools.
    Teach First, I think, is a bid dodgy. A bit like well minded philanthropists in late Victorian England going off to ‘the mission fields’.

  12. @Ken

    As the OECD report from which those tables came points out, a large part of those results (which are, btw, similar for 25-34 year olds) are due to our lack of social mobility and because we have an odd labour market with a disproportionately high number of low skill jobs that do not allow their workers to develop, so they are stuck at the level of skills they had when they left school when normally they would develop.

    However, it seems that an awful lot of the people who have strong opinions on the literacy of young people based on what they have read in newspapers (written by hacks who have only read executive summaries) have not gone to the source material themselves.

    This gives me a pretty firm view on their level of literacy.

  13. @Neil A

    “Part of my enthusiasm for Free schools is that I am very much in favour of progressive and unorthodox teaching styles. The School of Creative Arts, a Free school opening in Plymouth this year, is the antithesis of everything Gove stands for. And yet under his reforms, (some) parents will finally get the chance to have progressive education for their children, free of charge.”


    Same for me too, actually. But there’s a lot more to teaching well than you might think Neil, and the stuff you can learn in a teaching qualification can make a big difference. What do you think they learn when getting qualified, to make you so sure it needn’t matter?

  14. Free schools will mean

    1) Unqualified teachers

    2) With no assurance of a decent wage; up to the schools to decide

    3) With all sorts of bizarre curricula – watch Darwin get dropped by the fundamentalist Christians to start with.

    Either the national curriculum means something and all follow it – or none.

  15. KEN

    Labour in slight decline from low forties even though they have introduced an unfunded, populist gimmick,

    What funding do you need freeze prices and replace regulators.

  16. So it’s seeming that those neck-and-necks we had recently were a blip? Perhaps it shows that the Labour lead isn’t immune to collapse (not that any modest lead is).

    I feel that Labour’s position was getting a quite difficult during the latter part of the summer, thanks to economic improvements, silence on policy, etc and this showed itself in polling, then they had a good conference season, identifying a key national problem – which has suddenly got a bit worse (energy price increases).

    They might not need to worry about economic recovery too much after all.

  17. I dont think its tight at all. The tories cant win without some sort of political miracle.

    Labour has inherited just shy of 10% from the lib dems 2010 performance and that is enough to win them an OM without the help of a single 2010 tory voter. The tories can even increase their vote share on 2010 and they will still lose.

    The lib dems have been nailed on 10% of the vote share for three years without any variation – that is not ‘mid term blues’ – that is a wholesale and permanent desertion. The only thing that will change that is clegg being replaced and the lib dems leaving the coalition – and that is now looking very unlikely.

    It may be that a chunk of that ukip rating will go back to the tories in time for 2015, but some of their vote has come from labour as well.

    I would say that tory election strategists are engaged more on a damage limitation exercise – trying to wrest back their votes from UKIP via ‘nasty party’ politics – than seriously considering that can win.

  18. “Nick Clegg gives way on green levies”.Well who would have thought it!

    I suspect Cameron as agreed to pay it from general taxation (unfunded)

  19. ROGERREBEL………The energy firms will replace the money lost via a price freeze, the source of that revenue will be the consumer. As far as the regulator is concerned, we are dealing with massive public companies, a regulator cannot be biased, so changing it will simply be cosmetic.

  20. Roger Rebel,but is that not just a case of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul?

  21. I really don’t have a problem with “free schools” as long as parents are not forced to send their children to any free school because of placement issues, it should always be a choice not there is nowhere else…we will not know the result of this experiment for many years, and yes I do think it an experiment.

    We must not forget who set us upon this path when the blame game starts and it will, the other issue is who to hold responsible for any failures; which are already happening, parents should have a right to immediate removal of children and automatic placement at another school if the free school is shown to be failing, if children are being failed it is not the children’s fault and if they are forced to stay at a failing school I can see large compensation claims in the future either suing the school to force closure or the government pays out.

    I also think it is our future that is in danger, the UK cannot afford to gamble on that future but I think that is exactly what we are doing.

    that’s my opinion

  22. Paul
    We’re talking systems here, a whole profession of teaching at the various levels and in the various subject areas, and with the differing outcomes and purposes that make up the function of the educational system in a post-industrial society.
    This cannot be reduced to the question, can people without professional training and qualification in teaching teach a particular subject: of course they can. But Neil A’s post on TAs seems to me to illustrate why the severe problem of poor literacy and numeracy in the UK cannot be dealt with on either my or a responsible government minister’s good ideas.
    The institutional structure of teacher training, accreditation, methodology, monitored links with the needs of industry,, the arts, science, and the service sector, demand that teaching at every level is given the same respect and rights that we would give to building engineering: you want the whole structure of industry, science, finance, public administration, the arts, the educational system itself to stay up and function? Then treat teaching as the demanding,, skilled, informed and respected profession that a modern society and UK in the world market demand.


    “a modern society and UK in the world market demand.”

    Well, bits of the UK do that. This thread should really have the appropriate flag flying on the header. :-)


    “a modern society and UK in the world market demand.”

    Well, bits of the UK do that. This thread should really have the St George’s Cross on the header. :-)

  25. “Nothing to do with teacher quality of course…!”

    Ken, I do realise that you are oblivious to all but your own opinion but………………………………….

    have you considered that the enormous changes in society may just have had a teeny impact on young children’s teachability nowadays?

    Or do you just think you could send in a cracking teacher instead of the rubbish we presumably have now and all will be well?

    As a visiting teacher employed by the LEA to teach instrumental music I was staggered by how hard-working and dedicated – and skilled – the vast majority of our classroom teachers were. Plus the workload is tremendous.

  26. KeithP

    “So it’s seeming that those neck-and-necks we had recently were a blip? Perhaps it shows that the Labour lead isn’t immune to collapse (not that any modest lead is)”

    I would like to think that the neck and necks were a blip we won’t revisit but I think that they probably aren’t. Assume for argument’s sake that the Tories are around 34 and the Labour around 38. Then it will not be surprising to get, 32 to 40. or 36 to 36 (i.e. a variation in the lead of 0 to 8).

    Personally I will like to see a few more 42s or even 44s out of labour. That would mean a shift as would 38 out of the conseratives, which is no doubt equally in demand by others.

  27. @carfrew : Your post on our education system to blame partly for our national rating is really accurate. I was educated abroad, and so don’t have A-levels. I took 6 (some take 7) broad based subjects for 3 years. That meant that I could take Maths, Sciences and English/ History. I thought my education was inferior, but with a son not long out of school in the UK, I now believe that a narrow specialisation at such a young age is really limiting. The world has changed. People change careers etc. Even at university, in the system I came from you do a broad based undergraduate BA, BSc or BComm degree and then specialise post grad. I now believe I had a better education. I have had 3 very different careers, and am now embarking on another.

  28. “This thread should really have the St George’s Cross on the header. ”

    Good point: they all should really.

  29. @Oldnat
    Well, bits of the UK do that.

    Oft repeated, but…
    Pages 7 and 32.

    Scotland didn’t take part in 2009. Maybe they didn’t like the results.


    Of course, we didn’t like the results – but then we knew the problem in advance. “Oft repeated, but” that’s why the previous Lab/LD Executive (with SNP/Green support) commissioned an OECD report to look at the problem, and why there was a search for a curriculum model that might be best adapted to our situation.

    That’s being implemented by the current Scottish Government (with Labour/LD/Green support), and none of that has anything whatsoever to do with bringing in unqualified teachers.

    Keeping the GTC (which was introduced in 1968, and still plays an important role in maintaining and improving professional standards) has never been questioned – and that was the point of John Pilgrim’s that I was responding to.

    It might be that Wales and Northern Ireland have decided to follow England’s example and introduce “Free Schools” and extend the number of schools that can use unqualified teachers. If that’s the case, I haven’t heard of it.


  32. Time to tune in to the election night programs. I would ask for predictions, but I haven’t been paying attention to the pre-by election stuff until this evening.


    Prediction – The Jacobite will come last.

  34. @Chatterclass

    I have mixed feelings about the specialization thing. What you say is true, but at the same time, there are virtues in specialisation.

    I remember my tutor at Oxford talking to me about it. He complained that other European countries pressured us to have five year degrees in science, because they did, so how could ours possibly be equivalent?

    His point, of course, was that we specialised sooner, which meant we were already ahead when starting our degree. And he was right: bearing this in mind I started reading the prefaces of textbooks to see what students they were aimed at, and when they were foreign books, most notable with the US ones, they were aimed at older students on second degrees.

    Some countries maintain the generality beyond age eighteen and into the first degree, specializing more in a subsequent degree.

    This has the advantages you describe, but on the other hand, there are advantages in specializing early too. You get up to speed and close to the cutting edge when younger, letting you make more use of your intellectual peak. You can make more use of spurts in brain development.

    It’s no accident we do rather well in research terms.

    I would favour a touch of rebalancing. Keep the specialization, but cut out a bit of chaff and build in a bit more general stuff.

  35. “And he was right: bearing this in mind I started reading the prefaces of textbooks to see what students they were aimed at”


    Just to be clear, I meant that we routinely used textbooks that had been aimed at older students elsewhere.

  36. Dunfermline result expected around 1 am. Since I don’t think staying up will affect the result, going to bed seems the most sensible choice.

  37. Think people might have missed the point about unqualified teachers.

    The real scandal is allowing schools to be run by people with no teaching or educational experience. There are arguments in favour of allowing people with suitable knowledge or experience to teach, who may not have formal educational training, but I can’t see any case for allowing political appointments with no educational experience to serve as head teachers of taxpayer funded schools.

  38. Interested in AW’s comments at the top of the thread regarding the possibility of Tories suffering from the energy story.

    On the last thread I had a couple of posts spiked saying exactly that, with one of them at least being quite balanced and reasonable, in my view.

    While I understand that we can’t make judgements on certain events that take place on a regular weekly basis in parliament, it seems we also aren’t allowed to comment on how these stories are reported in the media and whether this could affect polling.

    Others can claim Labour’s energy policy is an ‘unfunded gimmick’ and meet the comments policy, but trying to say that the BBC evening news did not look good for Cameron doesn’t.

    I’m learning, but very slowly.

  39. Yes Ann your right but Cameron will claim he cut your energy bills

  40. @ Alec (11.49)

    Totally agree with your sentiments re the comments policy when the comment refers to an issue (and the issue was DC vs EM) is likely to result in a change in the polls.

  41. BBC Scotland reporting observers at the Dunfermaline count saying it’s going Labour’s way.

    Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens admit they ‘might just have missed out this time’.

  42. @Peter Bell – thank you.

    I do think the Tories in particular have suffered a really bad press on the energy issue in the last couple of days. Wednesday’s reporting in particular was seriously negative, with talk of panics, policy on the hoof and internal party splits.

    I don’t know what the polling salience is of the energy story, but it has certainly caught the imagination of the press.

    I may be allowed to say this tonight, but I thought Ed picked his ground extremely well. My guess is that he knew in September prices were going to shoot, and made his shock conference pledge quite deliberately, knowing he was on to a high impact issue that was going to grow legs and run.

    I think it was a clever move, and has moved the polls considerably.

  43. @Alec

    Well, to be fair, I don’t know that people are necessarily missing the point, it’s just that there are indeed two points. One is the issue of unqualified teachers, the other is the issue of headteachers inexperienced in education, which to be fair, some have mentioned, it’s just that no one has defended the practice so it hasn’t developed into a discussion.

    And the problem with the arguments in favour of allowing the inexperienced/unqualified to teach is that they tend to have real issues under scrutiny, particularly in more challenging educational environments. Maybe you can help Neil and Colin consider the drawbacks?

  44. “I’m learning, but very slowly”

    Please pass on hints Alec.


  45. CARFREW………..In Japan it is common practice to appoint an unqualified person as a school Principal, an experienced professional from another sector is considered an asset , and a sensible link to the world outside academe.

  46. @Ken

    So you can’t see any drawbacks? And it rather depends on how you do it, and our system may not support it.

  47. @Carfrew – at University level you specialise in as much as you do a major (or 2) for 3 years, sub majors, and minors for a year. The result is, for example, that my sister-in-law majored in English and Psychology. Her first career was as an English teacher and she went on to develop educational programmes. She then went back to University, and did honours and then masters in Clinical Psychology. She is now an adolescent psychologist. It allows the flexibility. Had she been here, she could probably only have done one or the other.

    “For example, in many other countries, education continues till age 18. Whereas here, many have left age 16. ..
    Furthermore, we often specialize post-16, whereas elsewhere they may keep a broader curriculum up till 18.”
    I agree that both these factors contribute either to an semi-literate population or to a narrowly educated one. Much of the blame for the specialisation, and indirectlky for early selection and early termination of schooling for a large section of the population can be attributed to an absurd belief in “excellencce” – secondary schools and universities as ‘centres of excellence”; and the related belief during the past fifty years that schools are providing bright students to specialist universities, and that that was the duty and hallmark of good schools and succesful headmasters.

  49. @AlanRoden – Labour majority of 2873 #Dunfermline

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