Unqualified teachers should be fired if they are not working towards qualification within five years, according to shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.
Mr Hunt said a Labour government would give unqualified teachers until 2020 to embark on a route towards formal 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 this meant teachers who were not on the way to QTS should be fired, he said “Yes”.
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.”
Mr Hunt was speaking in a BBC Daily Politics Debate, also attended by education secretary Nicky Morgan and her Liberal Democrat, UKIP and Green Party opposite numbers.
Ms Morgan said only 3 per cent of teachers were not qualified. “We absolutely respect professional, hard-working, dedicated teachers,” she added.
She said of Mr Hunt: “Is the first thing he would do as education secretary tell 17,000 people they cannot teach in this country?”
Lib Dem education spokesman David Laws said all teachers should be qualified, and accused former education secretary Michael Gove of changing the rules on unqualified teachers “without agreement” from his coalition partners.
Mr Gove relaxed restrictions to allow academies to employ unqualified teachers in 2012, bringing them into line with free schools.