PLANS to increase the number of schools training their own teachers in the UK have been welcomed by local centres.

However union leaders said there were concerns that taking teacher training away from higher education would damage the profession.

Education secretary Michael Gove is to review school training programmes as the government prepares to create 600 teaching schools by 2016.

Rawtenstall’s Alder Grange Community and Technology School is one of the school’s spearheading the new ‘in centre’ way of training teachers.

Alder Grange is the lead school in the Pennine Lancashire SCITT, a partnership of five organisations - four schools and Edge Hill University.

Executive headteacher Iain Holland said the most successful schools were the best places to train the next generation of teachers.

He said: “Our key finding is that no school, however good it may be, is outstandingly good in every aspect of its work all the time.

“However, alliances of strong, well-led and clear-sighted schools, sharing their different strengths and experience, and working tightly together for the common good, was much more likely to deliver what we all hoped for.

“This became national policy and so work is in hand to provide at least one Alliance in every part of the country.

“This means that there will ultimately need to be somewhere between 600 and 700 Alliances, across the country which must be led by at least one school currently designated as “Outstanding” by Ofsted.

“It is still possible for trainees to apply to a university to do a traditional PGCE but increasingly other routes are used too.”

Simon Jones, representative of Lancashire's National Union of Teachers said there were concerns about traditional training being overtaken.

He said: “The focus has to be on the theory and the philosophy of teaching – it is a subject in itself.

“While there are links between in school training and universities it’s important that the theory remains as important as the practice. Doing a PGCE you are also sent to many many different schools which gives an overview of the entire profession.”