Minister puts top ten heads together;Inner-city schools
They are advising Estelle Morris, the education minister responsible for the inner cities - drawing on their experience of turning schools around.
The six secondary and four primary heads will meet for the first time this term.
They will leave the minister in no doubt about the scale of the task ahead.
"You can't just turn a school around with a click of the fingers," said Liz Thompson, of Rushmore primary, Hackney. "It takes two or three years, minimum.
Sarah Draper, head of Hinde House school, Sheffield, said action must be based on evidence, not gut feeling.
The other heads are: Jean Else, of Whalley Range in Manchester; Dominic Hendrick, of Beormund school, Southwark; Martyn Coles, of St Paul's Way community school, Tower Hamlets; Carole Evans, of Priory school, Slough; Glynis Gower, of Bowling community school, Bradford; Dexter Hutt, of Nine Stiles school, Birmingham; John Jones, of Ruffwood school, Knowsley, and Usha Sahni, from Argyle primary in Camden.