The Tory leader will tell the Secondary Heads Association tomorrow that Britain's education system is far too prescriptive and over-centralised.
"Faceless bureaucrats and central initiatives can never replace local knowledge and local solutions," he is expected to say. "Teachers are too bound by targets and regulations to try something new when children fail to make progress.
"There are too many examples where teachers get a raw deal. Too many children are being left behind in a system that concentrates on Government targets while those with real need suffer."
Mr Duncan Smith's speech in Birmingham is also expected to touch on the importance of tackling problems with pupil discipline. His debut visit demonstrated the Tories' long-term commitment to education, a Conservative spokeswoman said.
"He hasn't just parachuted into education," she said. "This is something he has taken seriously. He has been involved in this for the past six or seven months and visited numerous schools and universities," the spokesman said.
The Conservatives have not pledged to match Labour's public spending commitments. Shadow education secretary, Damian Green, has proposed an, as yet uncosted, national schools funding formula.