Headteachers and high-flying business people should become chief education officers, according to Stephen Byers, the schools standards minister.
He wants top-quality people to take on the job, claiming that the chief education officer could make the difference between the success and failure of a local authority.
The Government is now planning a "virtual staff college" for CEOs, offering a postgraduate qualification linked directly to the competences necessary for their new roles.
Mr Byers told the Association of Chief Education Officers (ACEO), meeting at Warwick University last week, that he wanted to improve the quality of new recruits working in local authorities.
He said headteachers knew what schools needed from a local authority in order to raise standards, and added: "They can have the motivation, vision and determination to lead an LEA and make it more responsive to the needs of schools.
"And I want to see more business people in this strategic role, too. There's common ground between the top jobs in business and the chief education officer's job - it is not just a firm grasp of strategy, but the drive to hit targets, get results and deliver high standards."
Roy Jobson, chair of the ACEO, said that the Government was clearly looking for strong leaders and that chief education officers were being given a strategic and significant new role.
"Raising standards in schools is one area of life in which - for CEOs - simply taking part is not good enough, only winning will do."