Teachers need fewer qualifications than burger bar employees thanks to Government education reforms, Labour claimed.
7:13PM GMT 30 Oct 2013
Shift managers at McDonald’s require more qualifications than teachers under Michael Gove’s flagship free schools, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, claimed.
Free school headteachers are able to hire staff without formal teaching qualifications, like their counterparts in the private sector.
Mr Hunt, a television historian before entering parliament, said the “wholesale deregulation” of schools had undermined teachers and would drive down standards.
“Under David Cameron, we have this situation where you now need more qualifications to work as a shift manager at McDonald’s than to become a teacher,” Mr Hunt said.
“I am pleased McDonald’s insist on qualifications for their shift managers. It’s surprising and alarming that Education Secretary Michael Gove doesn’t operate in the same way.”
He added: “The quality of our teaching system determines the success of our education system, so it makes no sense to water down standards for teachers.”
In 2008 the fast food restaurant introduced an A-level standard Diploma in Shift Management, endorsed by Ofqual, the qualifications watchdog.
The on-the-job course is examined by a multiple-choice examination, practical assessments and coursework and teaches business principles and people management.
Mr Gove’s department insists state-funded schools should be able to employ untrained teachers in the same way that private schools “hire the great linguists, scientists, engineers and other specialists they know can best teach and inspire their pupils”.
But the policy has caused a split in the Coalition, with the Liberal Democrats supporting Labour calls for teachers to require teaching qualifications.
David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools minister, yesterday spoke in defence of Mr Gove’s policy in the Commons, before abstaining on the vote.
The Labour motion, to force all teachers to have a minimum standard of qualifications, was defeated by 263 to 229 after only one Liberal Democrat voted with the Government.
Defending his party’s stance on teachers, he said it came down to “some of the responsibilities that come with government, some of the need for compromises in coalition”.
Kevin Brennan, the shadow education minister, raising a point of order, suggested the Liberal Democrat stance was in breach of “the voice and vote provision of Erskine May”, the House of Commons rulebook.
Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker replied: “As you are aware, the way in which individual members decide to use their right to vote is not a matter for the chair.”
Mr Gove said Mr Hunt’s position would force unqualified free school teachers to lose their jobs.
He said Mr Hunt had enjoyed good teaching at a private school before going to Cambridge, but wanted to “deny that teaching to poor children”.
“It is the same old Labour Party, do as I say, not as I do. A Labour Party willing to pull up the ladder form the next generation, a Labour Party which has benefited from all the advantages that money can buy and then when the poor come knocking on the door, saying liberate us from ignorance, says ‘sorry, no, we’re with the unions, we’re not on your side’,” he said.