Who should I vote for as a teacher? Teachers to shun Coalition after the Michael Gove years

The legacy for the former education secretary lives on in the Coalition's poll ratings with teachers

Jon Stone
Thursday 07 May 2015 11:52
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Angry teachers took part in a rally through Westminster in March last year following a one-day walkout (Getty)
Angry teachers took part in a rally through Westminster in March last year following a one-day walkout (Getty)

Teachers are set to vote Labour in overwhelming numbers after five years of animosity between the profession and the government.

In 2010 the Tories, Labour, and Liberal Democrats were broadly level amongst teachers: 33% said they would vote Conservative, 33% said they would vote Labour, and 27% said they would vote Liberal Democrat, according to a YouGov poll conducted at the time.

A poll by the same firm has however found teachers deserting the coalition parties en masse after a series of combative policies brought forward by former education secretary Michael Gove and consolidated by his successor Nicky Morgan.

Support for the Tories has fallen by 4% to 29%, while previously strong support for the Liberal Democrats has evaporated and now stands on 10%.

44% of teachers now say they will vote Labour, up 11% from 2010. Ukip is now on 7% with teachers, up 4%, while the Green party is on 4%.

Teachers have objected strongly to the government’s free schools programme, changes to the curriculum, and the personal ministerial style of Michael Gove.

In April 2013 the National Union of Teachers passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in Mr Gove, followed closely in May by a similar vote of no confidence from headteachers.

In an opinion piece published by the Daily Mail in March of that year the then education secretary antagonised the profession by saying he would not “surrender to the Marxist teachers hell-bent on destroying our schools”.

In the same article he branded professionals who criticised his policies as “enemies of promise”.

Mr Gove was a journalist before joining parliament and has no experience as a teacher, a fact which many education professionals argued made him unqualified to overruled academics and front line teachers on policy.

Upon Mr Gove's stepping down Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the former minister's "ideological drive is no substitute for measured, pragmatic reform of the education system".

He was "a liability", Dr Bousted added.

Mr Gove’s programme of privately operated free schools was accused of being ideological in nature, while efforts to end coursework and micromanage the history curriculum with conservative political priorities were also derided.

In February 2013 the Historical Association branded the secretary of state’s plan to teach a “narrative of British progress” as “unworkable” and accused Mr Gove of oversimplifying historical facts.

Mr Gove was replaced in his position by Conservative MP Nicky Morgan in July 2014. Ms Morgan has continued the policies of her predecessor but taken a less aggressive personal stance against teachers.

This article was originally published on 20 April 2015. It has since been republished.

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