16/06/2013 05:19 BST

Unqualified Teachers Must Train Or Face Sack Under Labour Government, Stephen Twigg Warns

Male teen students taking Advanced level exams

More than 5,000 untrained teachers will be told they must gain a formal qualification or face the sack if Labour win the next general election.

Unqualified teachers have been allowed to work in academies and free schools under the Government's education reforms.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said it was "unacceptable" that a Government which claimed to want to raise standards in the classroom let teachers who lacked the proper training work in state-funded schools.

"It is shocking that this Government is allowing unqualified teachers into the classroom," he told The Observer.

"High-quality teaching is the most important factor in improving education.

"We need to drive up the quality of teaching, not undermine it."

Under the first two years of a Labour government, unqualified teachers would be give access to training, but if at the end of that time they had still not qualified they would be out of a job.

Department for Education figures show there are now 5,300 unqualified equivalent full-time teachers in academies and free schools.

A recent poll showed schools are using unqualified teachers to cover lessons and prepare pupils for exams, including classroom assistants and cover supervisors.

The survey of more than 2,000 teachers in England and Wales, conducted by the NASUWT union in March, found that more than half (58.7%) said unqualified staff are being used as teachers in their school

The union has declared itself deeply concerned about the prevalence of unqualified teachers. "Now when a parent sends their child to school they have no idea who is teaching them," NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said in a statement following the poll.

"If any suggestion was made that unqualified doctors were let loose on patients there would be public outrage.

"Why should our children and young people, the future of this country, be treated with any less concern?"

Gove also plans a new scheme to get former soldiers into teaching, a £1.9m initiative to pass on values taught in the military to children who have been excluded from school.

The Phoenix Free School in Oldham, for instance, will be run by a group of ex-servicemen when it opens in 2013, with a focus on discipline and zero-tolerance for bullies.