The Office for Standards in Education this week stated that the majority of weaknesss in the authority were caused by slow decision-making by squabbling councillors.
In a critical report, it said: "While all parties agree with the priorities for education, political wrangling undermines the ability of the current administration to move forward with confidence supported by adequate resources."
Ofsted called for close monitoring of the council over the next two years to ensure that it supported the city's education service, which it praised separately for making significant progress during the past 12 months.
Derby City Council received better news from the inspectors, who said it was now satisfactory after being ranked as poor in 2000.
The authority was praised for improving nearly all aspects of its service following a shake-up of the councillors and officers with responsibility for education.
Milton Keynes and Newcastle-upon-Tyne were also rated as satisfactory by Ofsted this week.
Inspectors described Newcastle as a "hard-working" LEA with good relationships with schools, and were confident of further improvement. But they warned that slow progress in raising exam results meant that the city's GCSE key stage 2 targets for 2004 were unrealistically high.