Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has been accused by the Tories of plotting to sack up to 17,000 teachers after he said those who weren’t qualified or working towards a teaching qualification by the end of the next parliament didn’t “deserve to be in the classroom”.

The accusations come after Mr Hunt appeared alongside Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan, Lib Dem education minister David Laws and other party spokespeople on a special Daily Politics education debate programme on BBC2 earlier today.

When asked to clarify how far his party would go enforce its flagship “qualified teacher in every classroom” policy, Mr Hunt said teachers who had not qualified or showed no signs of working towards qualified teacher status would face the sack.

Mr Hunt said: “At the end of the Parliament if you are not qualified or working towards qualified teacher status, we don’t think you have shown the enthusiasm and the respect…you don’t deserve to be in the classroom.”

When pressed by presenter Andrew Neil on whether he would fire teachers who fell foul of Labour’s  policy, Mr Hunt said: “yes”.

Tory education minister Nick Boles said: “This would mean up to 17,000 teachers getting the sack, even if they are delivering outstanding results. The fact Tristram Hunt is an unqualified teacher himself makes this all the more staggering.”