Michael Gove has defended new proposals which would allow bad teachers to be sacked in a term, despite criticism from union leaders that the plans were a "bully's charter".
The education secretary said the measures, which will be introduced in September 2012, would allow bad teaching to be rooted-out of schools.
Speaking on Friday morning, he said teachers would be protected from unfair dismissal: “If for any reason there’s an unfair dismissal, if you any reason you have a teacher, oh forgive me a head teacher who behaving in a… biased way then teachers will have all the protection that any other employees have under current employee law," he told the BBC.
The department for education claimed the move would prevent bad teachers being "recycled" across the school system.
But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said teachers would see the proposals as an attack that "will anger and depress them in equal measure."
She added: "What the government proposes is potentially a bully's charter. The union believes that many well-functioning schools, where development and professionalism is prized, will not adopt Gove's model.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said the measures were "draconian", adding her union would oppose the changes: "There is no evidence which demonstrates that there are problems with the current system."
Gove told the Daily Mail the measures were needed: “You wouldn’t tolerate an underperforming surgeon in an operating theatre, or a underperforming midwife at your child’s birth,” he said.
“Why is it that we tolerate underperforming teachers in the classroom? Teachers themselves know if there’s a colleague who can’t keep control or keep the interest of their class, it affects the whole school.”
He was backed by Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, who argued the changes were in the "best interests" of the profession.
"The simplest way to protect teachers is to be seen to be taking responsibility for our own performance. There is so much good practice out there that I think the profession has nothing to fear," he said.
"Clearer systems of performance management are one way to build up the professional reputation of teachers and get those outside the classroom to let the experts get on with the job.
"Teachers deserve to be regarded as skilled professionals driven by a sense of vocation and making a real impact."