Ofsted is currently investigating Portsmouth's schools and wants to discern whether the city's council is doing enough to help those in teaching jobs to raise educational standards.
The education watchdog's latest annual report, published in November 2012, revealed that only 34 per cent of secondary school children in Portsmouth and 53 per cent of primary pupils attended a good or better school.
Last month, Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw announced a set of measures to tackle the variations in school performance highlighted by the report.
These steps include targeted school inspections over a one-week period in areas where the share of children attending a good or better school is well below the national average.
As a result, Ofsted is inspecting several Portsmouth schools this week, in visits that were already scheduled for this academic year but that have been brought forward, as well as carrying out a separate telephone survey of a number of schools not being inspected.
It is hoped that its findings will indicate not only whether the city's schools' performance has improved since the annual report data was gathered, but also as to whether they are receiving sufficient external support and direction from the local authority.
Michael Coffey, the watchdog's regional inspector for the south-east, commented: "It cannot be right that local authority areas with similar demographics - such as the size of the population and the levels of deprivation - have such varying levels of provision in schools."
The findings and any recommendations arising from these inspections will subsequently be shared with the local authority, as well as schools, parents and the wider local public.
Under a new framework set to come into effect in May, Portsmouth City Council could itself be investigated by Ofsted if it is found to not be fulfilling its duties to promote high standards and fair access to educational opportunity and to support improvement in school performance.
However, Rob Wood, the council's cabinet member for education and children, was confident that the watchdog's inspections would highlight recent progress made by the city's schools, evident from a rise in the number of schools rated as good or better and from substantially better GCSE results attained last summer.
Posted by Alan Douglas