Labour’s Hunt clarifies nun comment


Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has insisted he meant “no offence” to nuns after being accused of making “arrogant and ignorant” comments about their teaching ability.

The Labour frontbencher came under fire after he clashed with journalist Cristina Odone on a TV show as she praised the eduction she received.

Ms Odone said some 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 has opposed 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.”

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 BBC’s Question Time 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 last night 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.”

Mr Hunt responded to the row by posting a message on Twitter saying: “On BBC QT I was trying to make a generalised point about the use of unqualified teachers in schools. I obviously meant no offence to nuns.”

Tory MPs seized on Mr Hunt’s Question Time remarks, with C onor Burns saying they were “a bsolutely shocking, sneering comments”.

Fellow Tory Nadine Dorries said it was an “arrogant, sneering, intolerant remark” and predicted it would damage Labour’s electoral chances.

“If Labour had any chance of holding onto its Catholic Glasgow seats, it lost it last night with Tristram Hunt’s remarks,” she said.

Asked whether David Cameron believed nuns could make good teachers, a Downing Street spokeswoman told a regular Westminster media briefing: “The Prime Minister thinks that there are a range of people who are well-qualified to be excellent teachers and it is obviously for headteachers to make those decisions on the ground.

“What matters most is that children are getting the best quality education they can.”

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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