Just over a half of respondents (53%) in a recent YouGov
poll disapproved of the Government’s overall record to date, and when asked about education policy only two out of five would be interested in setting up a free school. The numbers
were almost equally divided about whether free schools should be created or not: 38% opposed them, 35% supported them, but a large number, 27%, were unsure.
The numbers dropped when respondents were asked whether they would be willing to help in a free school should one open in the local area – only 18% would be happy to do so. 37% thought that free schools took funds from existing schools while 31% said they increased choice and improved education. A large number – one in five – said they didn’t know enough about the issue to be able to make an informed comment.
Just 51% of the Conservative voters who took part in the survey backed the creation of free schools, which perhaps indicates that grass-roots Conservatives are not overwhelmingly keen on this flagship policy. 63% of the LibDem voters and 78% of the Labour respondents opposed free schools.
The idea that free schools would increase choice was believed by only 47% of the Conservative voters. Again, this suggests that over half of the Conservative voters thought that free schools would have no effect on user choice despite government rhetoric, and this negative assessment was shared by 81% of Labour respondents and 73% of LibDems.
YouGov asked about the amount of power held by the teaching unions, regularly portrayed in the media as malicious fanatics wielding immense control over education. Only 28% thought that the teaching unions had too much power.