Education Secretary Michael Gove has praised the work of playwright William Shakespeare and claims he was "another grammar schoolboy made good".
The Tory Cabinet member's comments come days after he criticised the "ridiculous" numbers of Old Etonians in Prime Minister David Cameron's inner circle.
Mr Gove told the Commons pupils could be put off an author for life if they were poorly taught.
MPs heard there is evidence that awful teaching of the works of Shakespeare could deter youngsters from English literature for a long time.
New figures show that nearly half of the money paid out in student loans is never going to be repaid. But the Business Secretary Vince Cable has told ITV News the government has nothing to apologise for. ITV News reporter Claire Stewart has the details.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has said state education in the UK was "bog standard" for decades, but a "relentess" focus on teacher quality has improved schools.
Gove, who has made no secret of his desire to see state schools run more like independents, said
"tectonic plates" have started to shift in this "historic period in state education" as the schools have improved more last year than at any time in Ofsted's history.
"We need to thank the nations teachers. We have the best generation of English teachers ever working in English classrooms," he said.
Gove's speech comes amid a public row with Labour and Lib Dem MPs following the decision to replace the chair of Ofsted, Labour's Baroness Sally Morgan
A number of teachers have reacted in fury online on the ITV News Facebook page over Labour plans to introduce so-called 'licences to teach'.
Some people think that teachers only work from 9am till 3pm. The average teacher works 100-110 hours a week as I have to, and that is every week including holidays.
We have to plan, mark and assess around 500-600 pieces of work per week, that's on average. Planning and assessment takes up about 40-50 hours of my week every week.
I've worked in my job for 12 plus years and I must admit the teachers I work with are outstanding, also excellent. But - agency teachers not quite sure about - get paid far too much and have no consideration or care for the children / really not fair on the school or the children.
They are already making the teaching profession almost impossible. The amount of hours we put in trying to manage the work load and little chance of actually having some sort of life is depressing enough. Leave us to do what we love and are passionate about - help children achieve their potential.
Join the debate on the ITV News Facebook page.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, has said that a licence to practice in teaching "should apply to headteachers and not just teachers", adding that it should also apply to state and independent schools.
It is deeply debilitating and demoralising for teachers that any attempt to have a public debate about developing the teaching profession and the quality of teaching inevitably is hijacked by commentators and presented as a system to 'root out incompetent teachers' and present our public education system as failing.
No group of workers, least of all teachers, deserves to be treated in this way. No wonder resignations from the profession are high and recruitment to teacher training is falling.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said it had serious doubts about a proposal to bring in licensing for its members.
The fact is that teachers are very highly observed. Many of our members describe themselves as being surveilled the whole time.
What Tristram Hunt did not announce was any kind of a properly well-funded rigorous CPD system to which teachers have access.
When he talks about lawyers and doctors they attend good quality CPD, they get the points.That does not sound like what he is announcing for teachers.
There will be a good many teachers who will just see this as another hurdle.
Teaching unions have given a guarded welcome to Labour's plans for teaching licenses, but said that is should be accompanied by greater rights of access to high-quality training.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers told The Times (£):
We would need to see the details of the Labour Party’s proposals, but the NUT is heartened to see that Labour recognises the value of investing in teachers’ skills, knowledge and confidence, in a fast-changing world.
If these proposals are a continuation of the Michael Gove’s years of top-down judgmental prescription of how teachers teach, that would be very negative.
As Labour unveils plans for teachers to be licensed, branded "classroom MoTs" by former schools secretary Ed Balls, ITV News has asked you whether it is a good idea.
My graphic design teacher didn't understand Photoshop... I failed the class... went to a different college with a teacher that knew how it worked and got the highest marks. These checks need to happen, it isn't fair that I had to waste my time with a teacher that couldn't teach their subject.
So more stress and pressure on teachers with the 'same standing as professionals' just without the pay that it entails. They can't keep this up.
I'm not a Teacher but wouldn't this mean that if they have the same standing, shouldn't they get paid more?
Join in the conversation on the ITV News Facebook page
A Conservative Party spokesman has said the government is willing to look at any proposals which will "genuinely improve the quality of teaching", after Labour unveiled plans for teachers to be licensed. The spokesman added:
We have already taken action by allowing heads to remove teachers from the classroom in a term, as opposed to a year previously, and scrapping the three-hour limit on classroom observations.
We are improving teacher training, expanding Teach First and allowing heads to pay good teachers more. Thanks to our reforms, a record proportion of top graduates are entering the profession.
The "enormously important" role of teachers should be recognised, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said, as Labour unveiled plans to issue licenses to teachers.
Mr Hunt told the BBC: "Just like lawyers and doctors they should have the same professional standing which means re-licensing themselves, which means continued professional development, which means being the best possible they can be.
"If you're not a motivated teacher - passionate about your subject, passionate about being in the classroom - then you shouldn't really be in this profession."