Education action zones are being invited to bid for up to pound;50,000 to run pilot lecture schemes from September.
The Department for Education and Employment believes savings made by teaching larger groups could free up cash to pay for smaller classes where they are needed. They would also hlp acclimatise A-level students to the higher education teaching practices.
But unions are concerned the measure will be used to disguise the shortage of secondary teachers. John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "The Government might be motivated by the fact that there is a shortage of teachers, thinking that this is a way round the problem. If so, this is not the solution."