A quarter of Britons think that schools should set their own curriculum

One in four Britons believe that schools should have the most responsibility for setting their own curriculum, according to a new ComRes poll commissioned by political communications specialist the Whitehouse Consultancy.

The poll for the Whitehouse Consultancy found that only 24% of British adults believe that individual schools should be most responsible for what is on the curriculum. Twice as many people (49%) believe that the national Government should set what is on the curriculum, with 17% thinking it should be up to the local councils.

The findings follow countless coalition disputes over how much freedom schools should have in setting what they teach our children, following the introduction of Free Schools in 2010. Free Schools, a flagship policy of Education Secretary Michael Gove, are able to set their own curriculum, decide how best to spend funding and employ their own staff. Whilst supportive of many of the aims of Free Schools, Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has questioned in the past year whether there is any point in a national curriculum, “if only a few schools have to teach it?” His Liberal Democrat colleague, and Education Minister, David Laws is also said to be critical of moves to prioritise free schools over their local authority-run counterparts.

The survey for the Whitehouse Consultancy also found that one in three Britons support the national Government in setting how much a school pays its staff (35%), with only 26% believing that individual schools bear most responsibility for setting the pay of its teachers and head teacher. Twenty nine per cent of those surveyed called for the local council to be most responsible for schools’ pay structures.

Nearly half (47%) did believe, however, that schools should be most responsible for deciding how much time is spent on extra-curricular activities such as sports and music, with only 23% believing that this should be the responsibility of the Government.

Emma Carr, Managing Director of The Whitehouse Consultancy, said:

“There is clearly strong feeling amongst many Britons that the Government should still have the final say over the school curriculum, despite efforts from successive Governments to allow decentralisation of education policy and the empowerment of teachers”

“With the education system sure to be one of the most emotive issues raised in the run up to the 2015 general election, these results show that all parties should think twice about promising any further devolution of powers to a local level.”