Election 2015

Election 2015: Labour says unqualified teachers must go

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Media captionTristram Hunt says Labour would fire teachers who were unqualified, or not on a training course, by 2020.

Labour would fire unqualified teachers if they are not working towards qualification by 2020, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said.

Mr Hunt said a teacher not "on a pathway" to a formal qualification would "not deserve to be in the classroom".

Speaking in a BBC Daily Politics Debate, he said the policy was a "sign of respect for teachers".

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said only 3% of teachers were not qualified.

Lib Dem education spokesman David Laws said he believed all teachers should be qualified but that former Education Secretary Michael Gove had changed the rules "without agreement" from his party.

A vow to ensure all teachers are qualified is a key part of Labour's education policy.

While the number of unqualified teachers in academies - which are independent of local authority control - has increased, overall numbers are similar to under the previous Labour government.

In November 2013, there were 17,100 teachers working in state schools in England who did not have qualified teacher status.

Mr Hunt said the "crucial difference" was that under Labour, they had been working towards qualification.

"If over the course of the parliament you're not either qualified or working towards qualified teacher status we don't think you should be in the classroom," he said.

Asked if that meant such teachers would be fired, Mr Hunt replied: "Yes."

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Media captionAndrew Neil and the BBC's Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys were joined by leading politicians to discuss education

He added: "We don't think, unlike the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, that anyone can just turn up and be a teacher - actually you need training, you need qualifications, you need to get the best out of young people."

Ms Morgan said: "We absolutely respect professional, hard-working, dedicated teachers."

She said one million more children were being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010, and, referring to Mr Hunt, added: "Is the first thing he would do as education secretary tell 17,000 people they cannot teach in this country?"

Also on the panel were UKIP spokesman Jonathan Arnott, who said his party would equip children with the skills to "make Britain a modern world leader", and James Humphreys of the Green Party, who said his party would withdraw charitable status from private schools.

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