More than half of secondary school teachers in England and Wales (53%) do not think that setting up city academies is an appropriate way of raising standards in deprived areas, according to a MORI poll of secondary school teachers commissioned by the Sutton Trust and published today.

This is a significant increase from the 37% who said this in response to the identical question in last year’s MORI poll commissioned by the Trust (which was set up in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl, to help non-privileged children). Only 26% of teachers agreed with the Government’s approach, down from 36% in 2004.

Furthermore, teachers express considerable doubt about the real impact of extending greater school choice to parents – another key element of the Government’s White Paper. 60% percent of teachers do not think that school choice is a reality for most parents, compared to 29% who do and 58% do not believe ‘school choice’ has improved standards, compared to 31% who do. Nearly half (48%) do not think the current system of admissions to secondary schools operates fairly, as opposed to 41% who think it does.
Barry Sheerman, MP, Chairman of the Education and Skills Select Committee, said: “As a practical matter, school teachers have to implement the proposals contained in the White Paper and the Government should be concerned that the number of teachers who are against school choice and city academies, two key proposals, outnumber those in favour by a factor of 2:1.”
Sir Peter said: “I think teachers have become more negative about academies because of their very high costs and concerns about sponsors who have little experience of managing educational establishments.”

More than eight out of ten secondary school teachers (82%) support changes which would enable students to apply to universities after they have received their A level results. Asked whether they supported the Government’s proposal to introduce Post-Qualification Admission (PQA), rather than university offers being based, as now, on predicted grades, only 14% of the teachers surveyed thought it was a bad idea.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “This overwhelming support from teachers should encourage the Government to press ahead with the introduction of PQA which would be fairer for everyone – particularly able students in schools which traditionally send few students to the top universities. For these young people, often from less affluent backgrounds, having achieved exam success before they make their HE choices will give them the confidence to aim high and to apply to the country’s leading universities.”

The MORI Teachers’ Omnibus survey covered a representative sample of 477 secondary school teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales. It was carried out between November 4th and 24th, shortly after the White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All (which aims to bring about more choice for parents and pupils), was published on October 26th.

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