But urgent action is needed to control and monitor budgets of schools, as a fifth of them are in deficit.
An Office for Standards in Education report in April 1999 credited education director Heather Du Quesnay - who left this September to head the National College for School Leadership - with turning the authority around.
The follow-up inspection says the authority is increasingly capable at managing improvement and meeting the needs of a multi-cultural community where unemployment is twice the national average and single-parent families account for nearly 10 per cent of households.
Perormance in national curriculum tests and GCSEs remains below average but is in line with authorities with similar levels of deprivation. Key stage 2 tests are improving faster than the national average, as is the quality of teaching.
The authority continues to be successful at rescuing schools from special measures. Inspectors said Lambeth had improved its relationship with schools, and had a well-led school improvement and development division.
The major role the authority played in the education action zone and Excellence in Cities initiatives was also praised.
Lambeth's new education director Mike Peters started his job last month after moving from York, where he was director of educational services.