Survey which gives cash for answers used to generate PR puff for UTCs

Janet Downs's picture

Want to earn extra cash for giving your opinion? Then you can do paid surveys online. explains how this works:

‘All you have to do is sign up, wait for survey alerts to land in your inbox, then zip through the questions. Survey sites then add the cash to your account. Polls are often fun – you get to vent about everything from video games to your sex life.’

Sixth in MoneySavingExpert’s top 20 list of on-line surveys offering readies for responses is OnePoll. This is ‘Mega-popular for its speedy surveys, OnePoll runs polls for the press, meaning fun questions about celebs and your love life. It works slightly differently to other survey sites and doesn't send out invitations - you need to log on daily to check.’

OnePoll was chosen by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust to do a survey about University Technical Colleges. Not exactly ‘fun questions’ about Z-listers or relationships, but every registered panellist who logged in and chose to complete the UTC poll would have answered questions about whether they wanted a more ‘balanced approach’ to education, more school ‘choice’ and whether a ‘technical’ education should be offered.

Unfortunately, the actual survey isn’t publicly available. It’s now closed and would only have been accessible to registered OnePoll panellists. I’ve had to guess the questions from a TES article.

The point of this type of survey is to create ‘survey-led storytelling’ which ‘generate data driven content for brands’ according to OnePoll’s website. Radio 4’s ‘More or Less’ statistics programme described the problem with this type of polling here (11.35 minutes in) when it featured the Premier Inn and UKTV Gold surveys used by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove to ‘prove’ the historical ignorance of teenagers. Readers will remember this story first broke here on the Local Schools Network before being picked up with great hilarity by a number of newspapers.

So how seriously should we take this survey? It appears to suggest enthusiasm for the 14-19 technical education offered by UTCs but two of these, Hackney UTC and Black Country UTC, have already closed. Recruitment at age 14 is proving difficult which indicates parents aren’t as keen about moving their children to a new school at the start of Key Stage 4 as the OnePoll survey suggests. Nevertheless, more UTCs are planned – the Prime Minister has promised ‘one in every city’.

The Baker Dearing Trust also surveyed parents of pupils at UTCs in a different poll. It told parents the data would ‘be used to support the PR campaign’ to raise awareness of UTCs. Respondents were given a chance to win an Amazon voucher for £100.

The money being spent on UTCs would be better spent on work-related education for all pupils: an updated version of the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) which raised awareness of generic vocational education and stressed the importance of Careers Education and Guidance (CEG) at the end of the last century. Unfortunately, the gains made by TVEI, which was an initiative supported by Lord Baker now of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, have been swept aside by league tables, EBacc and judging schools on how many pupils they send to universities. Not UTCs for a few, but work-related education for all is what is needed.

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