POLITICS
08/02/2015 09:59 GMT | Updated 01/05/2015 06:59 BST

BBC Question Time: Tristram Hunt Says Nuns Can Make 'Brilliant' Teachers, After 'Ignorant' Comment

Nuns continue to haunt Tristram Hunt, as he was forced to insist they can be "brilliant" teachers during an interview about Labour's education policy.

He has been forced to claim "no offence" to nuns after he was accused of making "arrogant and ignorant" comments about their teaching ability on Thursday's Question Time.

He came under fire after he clashed with journalist Cristina Odone, as she said some of the "most inspiring" teachers she had were ones who had not been through teacher training colleges, prompting Mr Hunt to say: "These were all nuns, weren't they?"

Mr Hunt, who opposes the use of unqualified teachers in classrooms, said: "I know about your religious schooling and there's a difference, I think, between a state education system having qualified teachers in the classroom."

Mr Hunt tweeted later:

When he appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he probably hoped the matter was behind him.

But it came up again and he said: "I'm sure there are brilliant teachers who are nuns who are doing fantastic jobs."

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Ms Odone said she had been to a Catholic school, a state school and a private school and "the best (teachers) did not come out of teacher training college".

Following the exchanges on the show, Ms Odone hit out at Mr Hunt.

Ms Odone, a former editor of the Catholic Herald, told the publication: "Tristram Hunt's comments on nuns were arrogant and ignorant. Why is it acceptable to denigrate anything Catholic but bleat tolerance about every other religion?

"To know he and Labour stand a chance at the next election makes me fear for the 7,000 brilliant faith schools in this country."