The latest YouGov poll
found that only 23% of respondents thought free schools would make education standards better. 23% thought they’d make no difference and 33% thought they’d make standards worse. 21% didn’t know.
When asked about academies and whether conversion would improve education standards, 27% thought they’d make standards better, 24% thought they’d make things worse, 29% said conversion would make no difference and 20% didn’t know. Another mixed response.
41% of those polled said that private companies should not be allowed to profit from running state schools, 30% supported the idea while 29% didn’t know. The opposition to private companies managing free schools was even greater with 44% against, 28% in favour and 28% unsure either way.
What was surprising was the lack of wholehearted support from the Conservative respondents for flagship Government policies. Only 38% of Conservatives gave unequivocal support to free schools and 20% thought they’d make no difference to education standards. 21% of Conservative respondents didn’t know whether free schools would improve English education or not while the same proportion, 21%, stated unreservedly that the creation of free schools would make education standards worse.
Support for academy conversion among Conservatives was higher than support for free schools. 44% thought turning schools into academies would improve education, 22% thought it would make no difference, 19% didn’t know and 14% thought that academy conversion would actually worsen standards.
Given the relentless, high-profile marketing campaign by the Government and the screaming support from sections of the Tory press, it’s surprising that so many Conservative voters actually remain unconvinced about the free schools and academy conversion programme.