By April 1999 every local authority will have drawn up an education development plan - outlining a three-year proposal to raise standards in its schools.
Councils will be expected to agree draft targets and focus their work on schools that do not have sufficient momentum to improve. Schools that are doing well will be left to get on with the job.
A decade ago, local authorities appeared to have been written out of the equation, but the Government has now placed them - and the education development plan - at the heart of its drive to improve standards.
Councils will have to work with the Government's Standards and Effectiveness Unit on their development plans, which will be approved by the Secretary of State following consultation with the Office for Standards in Education.
Plans are expected to start from a statistical analysis of current performance against key indicators - this will draw on national performance tables and OFSTED data.
Core items might include: local authority proposals for collecting, analysing and disseminating performance and benchmarking data; how the LEA proposes to work with schools to set challenging - but realistic -targets; how it aims to help schools to establish robust mechanisms of self-evaluation, and proposals to help those schools which are causing concern to improve.
A new group is being set up over the summer to look into the coverage, preparation and approval of education development plans.