Labour has announced plans to undo some of the coalition's reforms in an attempt to end the "Kafkaesque" system it claims has been the result.
Central to its proposals is the need to improve local accountability, which is aimed at increasing the coherence of the system. A report published by former education secretary David Blunkett criticises the effect of Conservative education reforms, which he says have led to many schools being accountable to no-one but the secretary of state.
Under the new proposals, local commissioners would be responsible for ensuring standards are maintained. They would oversee all types of institutions, including academies and free schools, and would be able to intervene in the event of problems arising.
The independent directors would be appointed by local authorities on a fixed-term basis from a short-list approved by the education department.
They would have a number of other key responsibilities and would be required to approve plans to open a new school in the local area. There are no plans to return institutions to the control of local authorities, however.
Labour's Lord Adonis told the Guardian: "Astonishingly, there is still no mechanism for dealing with failing academies and free schools, apart from the personal intervention of Michael Gove or his successors as secretary of state."
"A proper failure regime needs to be put in place, including rapid replacement of sponsors and leadership where necessary. Labour will not duck this challenge."
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the changes would end the "sink or swim" system devised by Michael Gove.
Labour's reforms would also give schools more control over their curriculum, with the potential to introduce more vocational courses, and the school day.
In addition, the party plans to increase transparency in the education system by requiring all schools to publish financial information online.
Labour says the proposals have the potential to address the current flaws in the system, which have led to high-profile failures that have recently attracted media attention, such as the Al-Madinah free school.
Posted by Tim Colman