Education authorities would be reduced to a strategic role, under the plan by Liz Allen, who worked for Labour between 1994 and 1997.
In a consultation paper for the think-tank and campaigning organisation, the New Local Government Network, she says the school networks could develop into bodies like NS trusts to serve an area.
They could also include groups of schools in different parts of the country, but with similar needs. She said: "We need change and if local government cannot deliver these things then change is going to happen without it."
Ms Allen's report was sponsored by education services firms Rentokil and Nord Anglia.
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