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Teachers' priorities for education reform 2024

Education Reform
14 June 2024 Karen Wespieser

This report shares the results from Teacher Tapp questions we asked about teacher’s priorities for education reform on behalf of the National Education Union (NEU). The analysis is for all teachers in England, including those in private schools.

We asked teachers the forced-choice question: “Which of the following do you believe should have a higher priority when reforming the education system?”. Each time, there was two answers to choose from. Each teacher received five of these questions, each with a different pair of possible answers.

  • Better teaching facilities
  • More teachers with QTS
  • Improving teacher retention
  • Fewer high-pressure exams and assessments
  • Give students greater breadth in the subjects they can study
  • More pastoral support for mental well-being
  • More support staff in classrooms
  • More access to specialist services (e.g. CAMHS, or SALT)
  • Give students greater choice over the subjects they study
  • A greater focus on arts education (including music)

Overall ranking

Overall ranking

Ranking by different groups

Phase of education

When looking separately at the priorities ranked by primary and secondary teachers, there are some changes in the rankings. Primary teachers, for example, ranked improving teacher retention slightly less highly, although it was still third in their list (compared to first in both secondary and overall). Instead, primary teachers wanted to see more access to specialist services and more support staff in classrooms.

Secondary teachers still had retention, specialist services and support staff as their top three. However, they were more likely to rank “More teachers with QTS” higher up, and fewer exams and assessments further down. Among both phases, giving students greater breadth and choice in their subjects were the least popular policies to reform.


This ranking groups together senior leaders and headteachers, and classroom teachers and middle leaders. Among senior leaders, there was movement among the top four policies, with more access to specialist services and more pastoral support for mental wellbeing each moving up a single place compared to the ranking for teachers overall. Nevertheless, increasing the focus on arts education and giving students greater breadth and choice in their subjects were the bottom three for all groups.

How we calculate the ranking

As already stated, the participants were not asked to rank all ten options together. Instead, they were given five questions, each with two of the possible responses, and asked in each case to choose their higher priority for reform. Furthermore, each person did not see all 45 possible pairings of answers.

Nevertheless, across the more than 8,000 respondents, all 45 pairings were seen and from the results of their answers, it is possible to combine these into an overall ranking based on all teachers (the process is the same for demographic splits).

These responses were transformed and entered a multinomial logit (MNL) choice model to output the ranking. This is then repeated several times for the different demographics in order to create separate rankings for these groups.