By Claire West

Commenting on the statement by the Secretary of State that teachers in free schools will not be required to have teaching qualifications, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:

"This diminishes and devalues the professional experience and expertise of qualified teachers across the UK.

"It shows disdain and disregard for the teaching profession and denigrates their hard work and commitment.

"The Secretary of State is now not only allowing anyone to run a school, he is also turning children into lab rats to be experimented on by anyone with a half-baked idea.

"The analogy he makes with the independent school sector is flawed and inaccurate. Many independent schools insist on qualified teacher status.

"Once again the Secretary of State is twisting the facts to sacrifice quality education on the altar of flawed ideology."