Jonathan Jones

Public opinion is split on Gove’s reforms

Public opinion is split on Gove’s reforms
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It seems most of the public agrees with the need to improve our schools. A YouGov poll out this morning shows that 53 per cent think education standards have deteriorated over the past 10 years, while only 12 per cent think they've got better. 48 per cent think exams are too easy; just 28 per cent say they’re ‘about right’ and a mere 3 per cent think they're too hard. And when it comes to discipline, the consensus of inadequacy is especially strong: 83 per cent say schools are ‘not strict enough’, while 0 per cent say they’re ‘too strict’. You don’t see 0 per cent in response to questions like this very often.

But when it comes to how to improve our schools, the public is divided fairly evenly for and against Michael Gove’s reforms. On ‘turning schools into academies’ — something the government has been doing at a prodigious rate — the public splits roughly evenly into four groups:

And there’s a similar split on Gove’s free schools, although with slightly more people thinking they’ll hurt standards and slightly fewer thinking they’ll improve them:

One area where opposition more clearly outweighs support is on ‘allowing free schools to commission private companies to manage their school’, as in the case of Breckland Free School in Suffolk: 28 per cent are in favour, 44 per cent against.

So, while public opposition to Gove’s ‘schools revolution’ is nowhere near as strong as the unions’ opposition, the Education Secretary does have some convincing to do. Of course, if we continue to see results like those at academies run by ARK Schools or the Harris Federation, that should do most of the convincing for him.