The number of unqualified teachers in England’s schools has jumped by 16 per cent in the last year, according to Labour.
The figures come from the Department for Education's School Workforce Survey published today, which also showed 900 headteachers were earning more than £100,000 a year, a rise of more than a quarter in two years.
Government officials used the data to trumpet the rise in teachers in England's schools with more than 9,000 joining the profession in the last year.
But according to Labour, the figures showed there were more than 17,000 unqualified teachers in all state schools in November 2013 – up from just under 15,000 in 2012 – while the number of unqualified teachers in academies and free schools had increased by nearly 50 per cent over the same period.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt (pictured) said the spike in unqualified teachers came as a result of rule changes brought in by prime minister David Cameron, which he said were “damaging school standards”.
“The evidence from the best performing school systems around the world shows us that the quality of teaching makes the biggest difference to raising school standards,” Mr Hunt said.
“Many parents will be shocked to learn that David Cameron is damaging school standards by making entry requirements into teaching in this country amongst the lowest in world.”
Despite the concerns raised by Labour, the DfE said there had “never been a better time to be a teacher” and highlighted that 96 per cent of the workforce now holds a degree, while 74 per cent hold a 2:1 or higher.
“Our reforms are putting teachers in the driving seat,” a department spokesperson said. “Through academies and free schools, we are giving heads and teachers more power over what happens in the classroom and freeing them from interference by politicians.
“That’s good news for teachers, who can get on with their jobs, and good news for parents, who can be confident that teachers are solely focused on ensuring the best possible outcomes for their children.”
However, a closer look at the figures showed more than one in five secondary school maths teachers – nearly 7,500 in total – do not have a relevant degree-level qualification, along with a similar proportion in English.
Physics teachers were the science teachers least likely to hold a degree in their subject, with around a third having no higher than a relevant A-level, the statistics show.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: "I think the thing is compared with a lot of other countries, our teaching qualifications are quite general.
"Elsewhere, teachers need to be qualified to teach a particular subject and particular age ranges and the qualification necessary to teach that level can be specified."
“Trust and confidence in the system of pay for school leaders will not be secured whilst headteachers’ pay and rewards continue to be shrouded in secrecy.”