Four colleges have been asked to use their expertise to run groups of "failing" schools, raise their quality of teaching and help pupils progress.
West Nottinghamshire College, Barnfield College in Luton, Hull College and New College Durham accepted invitations to consider running some of the first "accredited schools groups", announced in the white paper Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future on Tuesday.
A Pounds 20 million fund will be set up to develop the capacity of accredited providers to take on underperforming schools, and local authorities will be obliged to consider using these groups in cases of failure.
Elaine McMahon, principal of Hull College, said it already had a long- standing involvement in education for under-16s and was opening an academy in September.
"We have 1,200 young people aged 14 to 16 from schools in every day," she said. "More and more we work as a part of the community, as leaders in partnership with the local authority and schools. The standard of education and training in the whole community is critical."
Other potential school troubleshooters include universities and successful state and private schools.
The white paper also proposed developing a national 14-19 funding formula in the long term, which could close the gap between schools and colleges. The formula could include a rating system designed to ensure the institutions that did best for their students were rewarded.
Colleges are also set to be given grades aimed at helping people choose an institution, with the development of a Framework for Excellence report card for post-16 education. It will be based on existing performance indicators as well as the quality of information and advice given to choose a path of study.