Local authorities are to be given a scorecard to measure performance and education officers will be expected to have a range of skills needed to improve schools.
Fifteen Department for Educ-ation and Employment advisers currently working with LEAs will work in a new unit, which will be headed by Stephen Crowne, the department's divisional manager for school improvement.
Sheila Scales, the DFEE's divisional manager for LEA improvement, told the Society of Education Officers conference that the unit would be looking at how it can use DFEE data to produce a "balnced scorecard" which would "allow us to engage more effectively with individual authorities to make sure we are offering the right balance of challenge and support".
Andrew Baxter, SEO president, said: "It's a more comfortable concept than the one-dimensional approach of asking 'have you hit your targets for key stage 4' and 'how did your Office for Standards in Education inspection go?'" Meanwhile, OFSTED is working with the DFEE on a list of the competencies which education officers will need to ensure that they manage school improvement effectively.