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Labour uses Pisa results to attack government support for unqualified teachers

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s education spokesman, has used the success stories of Singapore and Shanghai in today’s Pisa results to attack his opposite number over the use of unqualified teachers.

Shanghai topped each of Pisa’s league tables in maths, reading and science, with Mr Hunt putting the city’s impressive performance down to its high standards of teacher training and the fact that every teacher holds a qualification.

Under education secretary Michael Gove, free schools and academies have been able to hire teachers who do not hold Qualified Teacher Status. One school in west Yorkshire recently advertised for an “unqualified maths teacher with four GCSEs”.

Speaking in the Commons today, Mr Hunt asked Mr Gove whether he agreed that part of the success of Shanghai and Singapore was “down to the high quality of teachers in the classroom”.

“In Shanghai, all teachers have a teaching qualification and undergo 240 hours of professional development within the first five years of teaching,” Mr Hunt said.

“Under your deregulation agenda the South Leeds Academy can advertise for ‘an unqualified maths teacher with just four GCSEs’.”

Earlier this year, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg insisted that all teachers, including those in free schools, should have QTS. It forced his Lib Dem colleague and schools minister David Laws to clarify his position, having previously supported the government’s line.

“So will you now join with the schools minister and me in working to secure qualified teachers in our classrooms?” Mr Hunt asked.

But Mr Gove said that teachers were now more qualified than at any other time, adding that there were now 3,000 fewer unqualified teachers than under the Labour government.

“Indeed, those teachers who are now joining the profession are now better qualified than ever before," Mr Gove said.

"In 2009, just before the Labour Party lost office, only 61 per cent of teachers had a 2:1 or better as their undergraduate degree. It's now the case under this coalition government that it's 74 per cent,” Mr Gove said.

Read the rest of TES' Pisa coverage at our dedicated Pisa 2012 page.

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