A Labour government "wouldn't necessarily scrap" teaching apprenticeships, the party's shadow education secretary has said.
Angela Rayner said she believed in "parity of esteem" and described apprenticeships as "a good route into education", although she added that the top recruitment priority should be improving working conditions for teachers.
The government announced details of a new postgraduate teaching apprenticeships last week. It will enable graduates to be employed as unqualified teachers while training and will be launched in September 2018.
Speaking to journalists this afternoon, she said that if Labour came to power it would "happily look" at the teaching apprenticeship programme, but "wouldn’t necessarily scrap it".
Ms Rayner said she would be opposed to "anything that dumbs down the teaching qualification", but added: “I think parity of esteem is really important and I think apprenticeships are a good route into education".
However, she said that the government should prioritise improving working conditions for teachers rather than focusing on routes into teaching.
"Teacher recruitment and retention is more about the workload and the issues that teachers have in the classroom", according to the shadow education secretary.
"A lot of teachers now haven’t got enough money to live...they’re not even seeing their children at weekends because they're working all hours God sends."
“The apprenticeship route into teaching is not a priority, keeping teachers in the classroom and dealing with the workforce and workload issue is the priority at the moment.”
Ms Rayner was speaking at Teach First's Impact Conference in Wembley, London.
Teach First was launched under Tony Blair's New Labour government, and has been championed by the Conservatives in recent years.
While the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has distanced itself from some of New Labour's policies, Ms Rayner said if her party came to power it would continue to support Teach First.
"Of course we wouldn’t turn our back on Teach First and the teachers that have come through that route, because it’s changed the platform and changed the landscape of education in our country," she said. "It’s fantastic.”
“I will never stop celebrating the work of the last Labour government,” she added.