SCHOOLS MINISTER Estelle Morris has announced consultants will go in to Dudley education authority after inspectors found serious weaknesses.
The Office for Standards in Education said it did not believe the authority could solve its problems without external help.
Inspectors found "a lack of vision and strategic direction" and criticised the authority for not moving quickly or decisively to establish a new relationship with its schools.
The authority's weaknesses outweighed its strengths, even though its schools' test and exam results were at least equal to the national average.
Senior officers, schools and councillors shared the responsibility for a culture which had attempted to minimise change and maximise support, inspectors found.
Too many schools in Dudley expected that their needs would be automatically met by the authority, rather than taking more responsibility for their own improvement, the report said.
Dudley had some good staff but their work was "often rendered less effective by weaknesses and inconsisencies in strategic planning across the education department."
Slow strategic decision-making as well as weaknesses in the management of inter-agency work also hampered staff.
In the past, Dudley had enjoyed "an enviable reputation for its support to schools". But in half the schools visited, the inspectors judged it to be ineffective.
literacy and numeracy support
support to governors
health, safety, welfare and child protection
financial support for schools;
provision of education outside school Weaknesses
leadership and strategic direction by senior officers
education development plan
targeting of resources on
priorities and developing a culture that maximises value for money
supporting school improvement
defining and effectively communicating the LEA's role in monitoring, challenging, support and intervention
support to schools for the use of performance data
identification, and support to schools causing concern
support for special needs
support for children in care; and
support for behaviour and