A former headteacher with a track record of turning around failing schools has been appointed to a key role in a new drive to improve education in Birmingham.
Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP) has been tasked with boosting the number of schools in the city that are rated as 'good' or 'outstanding' by watchdog Ofsted.
As of last December, just 53 per cent of Birmingham's 418 schools were rated 'good' - seven per cent fewer than the national average.
And now it has appointed Tracy Ruddle as director of continuous school improvement as BEP begins its role of boosting the quality of Birmingham schools.
Ms Ruddle has had a successful 30-year career in the education sector, including pulling Corngreaves Primary School in Cradley Heath out of special measures.
Within four years of becoming executive headteacher at the school, she transformed it from 'inadequate' to 'outstanding'.
Ms Ruddle, who also worked at Timbertree Primary School in Cradley Heath and Brimley Hills Primary in Dudley, most recently worked as a director at a group of schools run by United Learning.
Chief executive Tim Boyes said getting the right team in place was a critical to BEP's first phase in its action plan for school improvement.
He said: "The BEP philosophy is about supporting school leaders and putting the schools themselves at the heart of the improvement strategy and so it was important we recruited a team that not only had the expertise but also the credibility to work with the city's school leaders and support them on this journey.
"Tracy's track record is absolutely first class and her understanding of what it takes to transform a failing school and inspire those around her are the fundamental attributes we were looking for in this crucial role."
BEP, which represents over 300 schools across the city, has also been recruiting current and former headteachers to lead school improvement - with one head appointed to each of the city's ten districts - Edgbaston, Erdington, Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Northfield, Perry Barr, Selly Oak, Sutton Coldfield and Yardley.
Mr Boyes said the partnership had also recruited nine back office staff to help deliver its improvement programme.
"Across the board, we have been fortunate enough to attract a cohort of superb candidates, both in terms of the district leads but also the back office team who are all local people who bring great skills and enthusiasm to their roles and fantastically represent the diversity of this great city," he added.
It comes after respected former education secretary Estelle Morris revealed in August Birmingham schools faced "exciting times" as she takes the helm of BEP.
Baroness Morris, a former Coventry school teacher, was Yardley MP from 1992 to 2005 and an education minister in Tony Blair's government for five years, including one year as secretary of state.
The new head of BEP said: "I'm thrilled to be involved with BEP and to chair the organisation.
"I very much look forward to working with teachers across the city as we move forward and take on challenges, sharing good practice and improving leadership and the quality of our schools.
"I think BEP will be a very important body, it will be a place where we can all come together. It's going to be exciting times, even if they are challenging times."
BEP will work with clusters of schools, identifying problems and sharing best practice.
It will also drive initiatives to train school governors, with a recruitment campaign already under way.
New rigorous checks will be in place to prevent any potential extremists slipping through the net in a bid to stop a repeat of the Trojan Horse scandal.
The debacle saw five Birmingham schools being plunged into special measures by Ofsted last year after allegations surfaced of a plot by hard-line Muslims to take over governing bodies.
Baroness Morris added: "The creation of BEP is an important milestone on the journey towards a model where schools are responsible for their own improvement and the improvement of others.
"All of the research tells us this works best and you have many teaching schools and leaders of education to draw on.
"But schools must not be isolated from each other and need to be part of a wider education community. Trojan Horse taught us that lesson."
She said the partnership would build relations with universities, the council and business.
BEP has been commissioned to carry out the work for the council over the next three years.